The pandemic might appear to be ending, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be saying goodbye to a lot of the mainstays of pandemic life. One of the lasting changes will be remote work, with many companies choosing to make remote work arrangements permanent or to start functioning on a hybrid work plan where employees will split their work hours between the office and the home.
While there are plenty of benefits to these changes, it makes creating boundaries between work and home life even more difficult than it already is. Not only will the “new normal” require us to find a work-life balance, but also a work-tech balance to ensure that we avoid the adverse effects of constant exposure to screens and technology.
There are many studies that demonstrate the detrimental effects of being immersed in technology such as sleep deprivation, attention deficits, neck pain, poor posture, diminished visual acuity, hearing issues, and even depression. Here are four tips that will help you maximize productivity while avoiding burnout.
Schedule all work time
Working from home makes it easy for us to sneak back into ‘work mode,’ even when we mean to be offline. With your laptop within arms reach, it’s all too easy to walk by your computer and check for work emails or updates.
Instead, limit screen time for yourself (and your staff if you’re in a position of authority) by being strategic about meetings and virtual collaboration so that you can maximize everyone’s time and avoid monopolizing the day. Without boundaries, it will feel as though work and tech never leave you alone.
Another good thing to remind yourself of is that working from home doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a schedule. Plan your day as if you were going to the office by maintaining regular working hours as much as possible. Of course, it won’t always be an option to keep work within “normal” hours, especially if you’re working with international clients or colleagues, but being intentional about consistent schedules and taking breaks will help you reach a satisfactory work-tech balance.
Keep up on your cleaning
It can get easy to let regular household chores slip when you’re working from home and are not expecting company, but keeping up with these daily activities can help balance out your screen time. Taking short breaks from work to fold laundry or scrub your stovetop is a way to force yourself from your screen while still being productive, creating an effective barrier between work and home.
Another way to establish the barrier between work and home is to have a designated work-free space in your home. This could be the back deck or a loft. If space is tight in your home, then you can just make a certain corner of your bedroom a screen-free zone.
Use technology to your advantage
Use technology to limit your exposure to technology by using the Do Not Disturb function on work-related applications when you’re “offline.” Use your electronic calendar to schedule in screen-free time and have it warn you when you’re approaching one of these breaks.
Regularly “take five”
Make sure to leave your home office to give yourself a brief break. Taking a walk will not only help you relieve your mind and free yourself from technology, but it has several physical benefits that help address many symptoms of sitting too long in front of a screen.
In fact, doing some physical activity will improve your overall productivity, boost creative thinking, and help you calm yourself if you’re in the middle of a stressful work predicament.