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Finding a Work/Life/School Balance in Our New Online Lives

by Judy Durkin

Both work and social life are moving online, and this lack of normalcy can make us all feel uncertain. Remember, it is okay to adjust what “normal” means right now, and to help you find some balance, here are a few tips that have worked for me: 

Work and School… 

Keep work, school, and everything else separate

Try to keep your regular work hours. If your classes have moved online, try to watch them at the same time of day that you would if you were still attending them in-person. Avoid letting them pile up, or it can feel overwhelming! It's also important to make sure not to get distracted with personal things throughout the workday, which can be easy when at home.

Try to do as much of your work as you can away from your computer

You can draft emails on pieces of paper if you need to rest your eyes. Fun fact: writing on unlined paper helps you be more creative! It can also be helpful to organize your cyber workspace—clean the folders on your desktop and delete any unnecessary notes and documents.

Make sure you eat at regular times

Eat breakfast before you start your work/school day, and take the same amount of time off for lunch as you normally would. If you shower in the morning—keep doing that! Also, make sure to get dressed for class or meetings. 

When the workday is done… 

Take all work-related things off your desk (especially on weekends)

This will help you differentiate your work time from your private time. If you change your clothes when you get home from work—do that! Get comfy.

Immediately after work, try to spend time resting your eyes from the glare of screens

 Things you can do instead include: working out or listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. You can also rest your eyes by talking on the phone with a friend instead of video calling.

Reaching out to loved ones

This activity can be stressful right now, especially because it can be hard to think of new and exciting things to talk about. Something that can be helpful is centering your conversations around activities. If you have a weekly tradition, you can keep it going online! You can still “grab a coffee,” have a dance party, do a workout, or have book club meetings.

When you are on the phone or on video calls, avoid multitasking

Also, make sure that your family and friends know when you are “at work/school” so that you aren’t being disrupted throughout the day. This will also make it easier to focus on the work at hand and stay on track.

Remember that it is completely normal to feel like things aren’t normal right now. As we all try to stay present in the real world while spending more time in virtual spaces, I hope that these tips will help you strike the right balance between work and social life.

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