With the Covid 19 pandemic, I really struggled big time to create the boundary between my work life and personal life. Day by day, that boundary was getting thin. There were lofty overlaps and I sucked at creating the balance.
How do I transition? When do I switch off ( my mind, not just the laptop and phone) and discharge my personal and family duties mindfully?
I wanted to reclaim that work life balance. Before the pandemic, the bike drive from my home to my work place and vice-versa served as a foundation to make the transition smooth & to switch off. Now everything was happening within the four walls, for a long 6+ months time, since mid March'20. Now the commute is just a few steps away or from one room to another and without proper transition, I was making silly errors and my effectiveness wasn't good.
Recently, I learnt a few hacks from my fitness coach Arvind , as a part of improving my ' self care ' and that really helped a huge deal:
Here's what you need to do:
Create a routine to transition from work-mode to family-mode. Let's say I aim to finish work at 6:30 pm. I have a visual reminder ( handwritten on my whiteboard that's in front of me) or an alarm that goes off around 6:20 pm. That's my signal to start wrapping things up. I then :
- Check off the things that I have done today from my TODO list. I write my TODO for the day in a notebook and I put a tick mark when things are done. This gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I finish something meaningful.
- Write down things that are pending and incomplete.
- Write down things that need to be done tomorrow ( TODO for the next day).
- Switching off the laptop. Yes, click that 'shut down' button, not just close.
- Turn off any official notifications, messages on my phone.
And once that's completed, I'm officially done with the work.
I tend to revisit, reprioritize and adapt that TODO list ( created the previous evening) before I start my work the next morning. The TODO sets my focus for the day.
Though physically, I am done; mentally I'm NOT...NOT YET....
On to the actual transition, which is me mentally switching from being at work to being with the family.
This was a 5-15 minute routine for me, depending on how my day went by. I usually do a 10 minute silent meditation focusing on my breathing ( inhale and exhale slowly) in a calm place, without any devices. This helped to switch levers in my head. I am now preparing to exit out of my work mode( as an employee) and prepping up to play the role of a son, father, friend, spouse or an individual; rather than just arbitrarily straying into the personal boundaries.
At the end of 10 minutes, along with "shutting down the laptop" stuff, I am done with work and I am free to spend time with my family and get some me-time.
At the beginning, it was hard. Things didn't go as planned. It was all over the place. I then learned to prioritize better and say no to unimportant things. The fix was in having a sustainable structure in place, and not in breaking the system. Over the weeks, I was getting better at it. It is important to remember that exceptions can always happen i.e. there might be a real emergency that requires you to continue working.
It's a RED flag when there's an emergency every other day that pushes you to make exceptions.
Once I transition, I'm now fully present with my family.
It helps to recharge, reset, readjust, reboot and rejuvenate . My stress levels went down and my focus & productivity improved in manifolds.
Learn to transition the right way. Get that structure in, mostly importantly the structure or routine that works for you. Stay consistent on most of the days, be in it for the long haul.
Until next time, sweat it out, rinse, recover and repeat !
#MakeFitnessAHabit #1repatatime #ScrumOn
Inspiration, Credits and References:
- Co-founder and Coach, Arvind Ashok ,@thequad.in,The Quad Fitness Pvt. Limited, Madras, India