Navigating a New Work/Life Balance

Contrary to popular belief, I like to work. (Well, hopefully that’s not popular belief, but just in case it is . . .) I’m a fan of getting stuff done, and I’ve had years of experience figuring out what to do where, when, and how. (“Why” sometimes eludes me still.) I love the feeling of being “done” with work. Coming home for the day and knowing I was effective and efficient, and that I’m on top of things.

Enter COVID-19.

I’m now working from home, because while I view my work as important, I also recognize the bulk of it that isn’t direct staff supervision can be done on a computer or over the phone. And since for now, we’re all supposed to have as little direct contract with each other as possible . . . here I am at home.

But I’m discovering when I’m home all day long, I have a much harder time separating myself from my work. It’s hard to feel like it’s “finished.” I find myself checking email first thing when I wake up and last thing before I go to bed. You would think that being home, I’d be working less. Somehow, I feel like I’m working more. Some of that is probably because I have to take breaks now and then to go help the kids with their homework or solve a computer issue around the house. But all that does is make it so it’s hard for me to accurately gauge how much time I’m working. At work, if I take some time to go talk to a coworker or rest for a bit, I know I’m still at work. Still available for questions and issues that may arise. I’ve got years of practice knowing what the balance is.

That’s all out the window now, and I’m finding myself feeling much more drained the past few days than I should normally feel. Yes, some of that is because the world is exploding, but I think a good chunk is because I don’t know where the balance is anymore, and I really want to get it back as quickly as I can.

So what am I doing about it? For one thing, I’m trying to stick to my routine as best as I can. Wake up. Get writing done. Go to “work” by sitting at my desk at home, checking email, checking blogs, touching base with coworkers, etc. Banana at 11. Lunch at 12. Exercise then. I’m also trying to come up with things that I can do. Projects I can tackle to make it so I can see the progress I’m making throughout each day.

The university is in “spring break” until next Wednesday. What will things look like once that break is over? I have no idea. How many questions will start coming in via chat? How many problems will arise that I need to iron out? I’ll figure all of that out when it comes. For now, I’d just like to get to the point again where I can be done with work and set it out of my mind. Maybe that’s not anytime soon.

I know there are more important things to really be worried about right now. I know my job isn’t nearly as stressful as some. I’m not a doctor. I’m not saving the world at the moment. But a lot of my blog is about me, and this is where I am right now, mentally speaking. I have to assume I’m not alone.

Even if it feels that way sometimes now that I’m cut off so much from my coworkers . . .


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