Balancing Work and Life in a Work from Home Setup

This article was written by one of our Senior Operations Managers, Max Cordero. He brings with him more than 10 years of operations management experience as he currently leads the FGC+ Bacolod Site.

One of the biggest areas of concern around the COVID-19 pandemic, aside from the grim possibility of death are loss of income and suboptimal mental health.  More and more people have reportedly showed signs of clinical depression.  Healthcare insurance providers have come up with care hotlines specific to counselling and psychological well-being.  I remember 2, 3 months ago when people can still say “I don’t personally know anyone who died of COVID”.  These days, it has become quite normal to see a friend in Facebook change their profile picture to either full black or a lighted candle. 

               Many business owners are currently operating from within their own homes. Even before the proliferation of COVID cases, many new entrepreneurs prefer the WFH setup – thinking that it’s the less stressful, more-time-to-oneself option. Truth is, it is easy to blur the boundaries of work and “non-work” or simply “home-life”.  This is true especially for roles with deadlines or cross-departmental dependencies.  I am no exception.  With social media and instant messaging providing round-the-clock connectivity, that DM notification can sometimes be very difficult to ignore.  My sister who is based in the US shared that she found herself working 12 to 14 hours straight everyday ever since she started working from home.  She’s an accountant.

               Making a distinction between the hours of “Work time” and “Home time” is crucial in maintaining our mental health.  Key is to acknowledge the fact that work doesn’t run out, so it’s futile to squeeze in all deliverables in one’s waking hours.  When work-life balance suffers, burnout ensues.  And it’s difficult to get burned out when you can’t “get out”.

To simplify, I think of my daily routine in terms of 3 chunks of 8 hours each:

  • 8 hours of Work
  • 8 hours of Home/Family
  • 8 hours of Sleep

Now, more than ever, don’t forget to make clear boundaries for each chunk.  I also can’t emphasize enough how we all need a total of 8 hours of sleep, Netflix and Facebook notwithstanding.  I, for instance, have managed to adopt the “medieval sleep pattern 1 ” of:

  • 4 hours sleep + 4 hours chores/errands or “me” time,
  • 4 hours sleep + 4 hours Family Quality Time

               The trick is to optimize our productivity during the 8 hours of Work.  I have to admit that it’s easy to be distracted when your Team Leader or Operations Manager is not around to monitor our online activities.  The result is our deliverables remain idle until maybe the last few hours of the shift.  Then we end up extending, hence Work eats into the other 16 hours of our day.

               It takes conscientious effort to stick to the 8 hours.  Be creative. Use an alarm. Set up a buddy system.  We should respect the act of LILO (log in, log out).  We owe it to ourselves.

Sources:

  1. “The myth of the eight-hour sleep” (https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16964783)
  2. Figure 1 and 2.  Bacolod City Health Office (CHO)

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