As a 20-something student, I’ve suddenly found myself swept out of “adulting” and back into my childhood bedroom in my parents’ house for the foreseeable future. While working from home, I’m sure, like me, you’ve experienced family members walking in on a Zoom meeting, dogs jumping onto your lap mid-sentence, and the distraction of everyday family chatter.
It’s probably also become clear to you that the so-called “work life balance” is nearly impossible while your personal and professional lives are now so interconnected. I was recently introduced to another way of approaching work life while working remotely, one that isn’t a balance but is instead a healthy integration of the two.
So what is work life integration?
In our latest Jostle webinar, Alexis Haselberger coached us through how to transition from surviving to thriving while working from home. The key to work life integration is knowing yourself and what you need to function well. The answer to this may lie in identifying whether you’re a segmentor or an integrator.
What does this mean you may ask? Well, a study from Google’s HR team highlighted that 30% of people are what we would call segmentors—they like to keep their time at work separate from their personal life, and the other 70% of people are integrators—they’re okay if their personal and work lives intertwine and are willing to work alternate hours to accommodate some personal time throughout the day.
Since our home and personal lives are so interconnected now, it’s important to have the self-control to be able to shut off work to allow for personal time—especially if you’re an extreme integrator like me!
What are the ways you can gain control?
Alexis recommended a few ways to ensure you remain in control of your work life integration so that you stay on task for work, while also getting the much-needed rest and relaxation you need:
Block off time for tasks: It’s important to identify what you want to accomplish and when. You should block off the time you’ll need to complete a given task and stick with that plan. Feel free to post this on your door or fridge so your family or roommates know when to not disturb you.
Plan for tomorrow, today: Do you ever find your thoughts whirling around at night on all the things you need to work on tomorrow? Try brain dumping all the things you need to do tomorrow, today. And from there, make a realistic plan of what you can complete tomorrow.
Communicate: Communicate with your employees and family about what you need from them to be able to do your best work and remain on track. Are you missing a second monitor and would benefit from getting one from the office? Tell your boss! Are your partner’s boisterous Zoom meetings distracting you from your work? See if they can move to a different area for their calls.
Experiment with what works for you: Lastly, reflect on the changes you’ve made and see if they’re actually working better for you. Remember that experimenting should also be followed by iterating until you find your best strategy.
Finally, how to maintain focus?
Did you know that on average you get distracted every 11 minutes and that it takes 23 minutes to recover from this distraction? I was shocked to find that when this was all added up, one-third of my workday was lost to distractions! Here are some tips from Alexis that I’m trying out to get that lost time in my day back:
Use notifications mindfully: Some notifications have an increased importance now that we’re remote, such as calendar reminders (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had a minor heart attack thinking they’ve missed a meeting since being remote). However, some just decrease your ability to focus, like your email going off every few minutes. So decide what applications require your immediate attention through notifications, and manually check the rest less often.
Declutter your workspace: Have you noticed that when your workspace is cluttered your stress levels increase and it’s harder to focus? A quick tidy up of your workspace and surroundings will help you have a clear mind and let you feel more in control of your work.
Reduce temptation: This is a big one for me. I often find myself lulled into checking my phone quickly, only to realize 20 minutes have passed by on social media (TikTok is quite the rabbit hole). Alexis recommends hiding your phone so it’s out of sight during the workday, and also using the Momentum Chrome extension, to set goals for your day to keep you on track.
With all this in mind, what I learned most from Alexis is that I should take the time to explore what works best for my circumstances and needs. By discovering these things about yourself you’ll be better equipped to identify what strategies will work best for you. It’s also important to be open to change—after hearing from Alexis, I’m committed to pre-planning for tomorrow, today. I’d love to hear any of your tips and tricks for bringing harmony to your remote work life.