Balancing Personal and Professional Life During the Pandemic
The ongoing struggle for many in the lives of professionals for the last month, as the pandemic continues to uproot what used to be a normal emotional and physical separation between the workplace and home, is how to balance the needs of professional life and those of family, friends and loved ones. Some are adapting with grace and ease, while others are now in awe of the caregivers and educators in their lives as they try to adapt to a blended schedule of homeschooling and virtual meetings. For those without reliable Wi-Fi, deemed essential workers, and/or the ability to have a partner or family member to help share with educating and entertaining children, the distance between their personal and professional lives continues to shrink, causing stress and anxiety.
To confirm that none of us are alone in this struggle, below are the stories of Kanarys’ users, team members and friends of Kanarys team members, all shared anonymously.
“Now in my second week working from home. I miss the structure that comes from being at work, listening to podcast/audio books on my way to and from work and the double monitor at work. The pros is that I can take the dog out every morning for a run or bike ride, make and have lunch with the family, work on the school stuff with the kids through the day and have some time with them after I log off for the day. Also, I have a window I can look out off now. I am finding I need to find something for me, but I am not sure what that is or means. Push-ups through the day have been suggested or reading a few pages in a book.”
“My husband and I just had a discussion about reworking the balance of the day. He has a full-time office job that is now at home, and my consulting and entrepreneurial life has always been the flexible part. But now that kids are never at school, he decided to block out a few daytime hours each day where no one can call him so he can be primary parent and I can get some work done. And then all of my creative work happens after the kids are in bed and the house is quiet again.”
“It has been very difficult to adjust (and I worked from home a lot before the Coronavirus). It would be easy if I didn’t have to work with my 8- and 6- year-old on their schooling (and keeping them entertained). The schools are placing what I feel as pressure on the parents (i.e. I have to conduct spelling tests every Friday for 1st grader and turn in the results).”
“My son is safe at home. I’m exhausted though. We don’t have a set schedule, we tried but my son is young, so he rebelled. With everything going on around him, I figured we could go at his pace.”
“Separate workspaces in separate rooms!!! It allows us to work in our own styles (for him, that means TV on in the background, but for me, it mostly means quiet).”
“I’m still working regular hours until 4:30 or 5, then I take my shift homeschooling our kids. Then I pick back up around 8 after I get them to bed. My husband is working about 3 feet from me in our office each day and takes his kid shift from 3-5 p.m., then works until dinner. It’s a juggle but we’re making it work!”
“I started out with an hour by hour schedule with times blocked off for certain subjects, outside time, lunch, art/craft, science, etc. but that quickly went out the door when a deadline from work came up. Now I just wing it and do the best I can.”
“It’s only been a week for me…working from home I’m just nonstop working.”
“My work for the real estate industry has slowed down tremendously. I have tried to stay in front of all my people by calling and checking in on them offering home solutions to not be bored such as tips and tricks to get organized etc.”
“My biggest challenge though is my dogs when I have a conference call.”
“I became a pharmacist so I couldn’t bring [work] home. But it’s hard not to worry. I feel like I go to work and bring it home. I don’t know how to shut it off. I need to learn how to do that.”
“I have a decent work set up and was quite productive the past couple of weeks. I stuck to a schedule and was sure to make time for lunch breaks each day. I also live alone, love working in quiet spaces and have always been self-driven.”
“I feel lucky in my position that I’ve been able to maintain regular office hours, meaning I can shut down the laptop at the end of the workday and take a 30-60 minute lunch break most days to have lunch with my husband or with work friends over video chat. I think it helps that my company/team valued work/life balance even before this situation (note: I don’t have kids, so that helps, too!).”
“I’m making things happen as they come, and scheduling as needed. My team is handling most appointments that don’t require my presence. Still having team meetings every other day and still closing business.”
“I’ve noticed that those I engage with have lost their boundaries, so it’s really hard to maintain my own. For instance, we do 4-day work weeks and our clients really stopped contacting us on Fridays as their needs were met by Thursday. Now, I hear from people Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as one day is indistinguishable from the next. I’m also seeing that EOD/COB deadlines are pushing to 7:30/8p where morning communication is getting later as well. I don’t have kids, but I do teach a college course and take business classes. The online curriculum and setup are already a heavy lift, then adding on inability to focus as we all have our devices on and the ability to turn our cameras on and off, and it’s almost impossible for information to be retained.”
“Something I appreciate from certain facilitators at my organization is when they state “we know that as we adjust, we may see / hear noises, family members, and sounds in the background. If we were in the office, you’d hear people talking, making lunch, eating food, so please feel free to do that without the pressure of mute.”
As evidenced by the stories above, everyone is finding a way to deal, or still determining how they and their household will cope. Hopefully you found a gem in these that you can use. If you want to talk more about how to balance the personal and professional, join or start a conversation in the Kanarys forum.