At a time when our homes are serving as our offices, gyms, and places of rest, creating boundaries can be very difficult. Various aspects of our lives have become intertwined and muddied. On our Optimist Daily Update, our team leaders Kristy Jansen and Summers McKay often discuss the difficulties of drawing the line between work, play, and rest in our daily pandemic lives. If you’re having a hard time compartmentalizing the previously separate parts of your schedule and carving out some “me time,” try these strategies for getting your daily schedule back in balance.
First, speak kindly to yourself. The current crisis is putting additional stress on all of us, but most often the person we put the most pressure on is ourselves. Remember to cut yourself some slack if you’re not as productive or upbeat as you usually are.
Next, create structure and stick to it. In our current situation, days and even weeks are blending together. Creating structure and adhering to it will help you stay on track with your goals. It’s okay to sleep in every once and a while but try to set aside designated work hours, create a specific physical workspace in your apartment, and maintain a steady sleep routine.
It’s also important to remember to schedule a time for leisure. If we don’t plan to relax, most of us forget to. Carve out time to do something that is purely enjoyable. Whether it’s watching TV, reading a book, or playing a board game with a family member, set aside a chunk of time and commit to using it to unwind.
Physical representations of boundaries can also be beneficial in reinforcing emotional and mental boundaries. This can be more than just having a designated workspace in your home. Maybe it’s playing your favorite music at the end of each workday to signal it’s time to let loose or starting each morning with a walk to clear your mind before the long day ahead.
In addition to going offline once you’re done with work for the day, consider also cutting down on your personal social media consumption. Engaging with others virtually can be a welcome distraction, but it can also exacerbate anxieties and feelings of inferiority. Try investing your time in a video chat or virtual trivia night to connect instead of browsing Twitter.
Lastly, communicate your boundaries. Discussing our commitments with others not only makes us more likely to follow through with them, but it can also help those around you act in accordance with your values. If your colleagues are routinely scheduling meetings late in the evening, discuss timing that works for both of you and still allows you to share dinner with your family. If your partner understands you are limiting media consumption at night, they will be more cautious about putting on the news or sending you distracting notifications.
It can feel like COVID-19 has thrown our daily lives upside down. When you’re not commuting, it’s tempting to tack on an extra hour of work each day or forget to prioritize exercise when kids at home need constant attention. Use these strategies to narrow down what you truly want to make time for and create distinctive lines between your personal and professional commitments as well as communal and individual activities.