It’s official; we are more stressed than ever about the current, COVID affected job market. In fact, in a recent survey, three-quarters of Brits said they ‘felt stressed about trying to find a new role in the current job climate, with a third putting their search on hold due to COVID-19’.

For those fortunate to have held onto their jobs, managing expectations about adapting their roles and responsibilities to fit into the ‘new normal’ has proven equally difficult to cope with. The home office and the home have blurred their boundaries, and there’s a danger that the nation’s workers are taking on more work than they can manage, just to keep hold of their jobs. 

Just because we’re in the throes of a Global Pandemic – or more importantly, because we’re in one – doesn’t mean you should let the Man grind you down or exploit you. Instead, here are 7 IDEAL tips on managing your work-life balance during coronavirus. 

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

The temptation to overextend ourselves is so strong whilst working from home. We’ve chores to complete, more meals than usual to consider, and of course, deadlines to meet which seem to have an added sense of urgency due to the pandemic. 

Take a pause. A moment. Stop trying to do everything. Focus on the tasks that you are good at and delegate the others, whether that’s around the home or in the virtual office. If you are not good at digital marketing or finances, for instance, outsource those tasks to co-workers or a international virtual assistant. Should cooking dinner not be your forte but you’ve got a chef in the family currently on furlough, then….do we need to spell it out?

Work smarter, not harder, as they say.

PLAN YOUR DAY

Learning how to manage your time is crucial for taking back control of your work-life balance. Instead of living each day flying by the seat of your pants, planning is key to boosting efficiency and productivity. Set work hours for yourself and do everything in your power to stick to keeping within them. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ll be working until midnight every night, the temptation stronger than ever since you’re working from home.

So, before you start your day, spare a few minutes to plan your whole day, as meticulously as you can bear. Write it down on paper or note it on your phone, with a to-do list as the focal point. You will be amazed at how planning your day will help you get more work done and reduce stress. 

PRIORITISE YOUR TASKS

You may well have 40 tasks on that to-do list we just extolled the virtues of. Ideally, you need to prioritise those tasks from most important/urgent to least important/urgent. That way you can tackle the urgent tasks first and complete the least important ones in due course. You wouldn’t want to waste a precious hour labouring over something minor, now would you?

TRUST YOUR COLLEAGUES 

‘’If you want something done right, do it yourself’’. Never was there a mantra more harmful to the stressed out home office worker.

Indeed, if you feel like you are racing against time, wondering how your day went by so fast, then you are probably not delegating enough. One person can only do so much, after all. By delegating properly and efficiently, you are able to focus on the more urgent tasks and handover the others. 

Use technology to assign those tasks and encourage teamwork between you and your partners, via collaboration-encouraging, communication-streamlining platforms such as Slack, perfect at keeping colleagues connected, Chanty, ideally suited to smaller businesses, Microsoft Teams for larger corporations, and Flock, which is similar to Slack but claims to run faster. Choose your poison.

KNOW YOUR PEAKS AND TROUGHS

Are you a morning person or are you more productive later in the day? If you are a morning person, it’s best to tackle the tough and high-concentration tasks early doors, leaving the afternoon free for more imaginative, creative and free-form activities. Should the reverse be true, then pace your day so that you hit your peak in the afternoon; perhaps giving you the perfect excuse for a lie in? 

Should you find it really tough to get going in the morning, check out our 8 expert-approved ways to become a morning person, and turn your day around!

LEARN TO SAY NO

If you’re the kind of person that finds it hard to say no to your boss or teammates when they ask for help, you’ll know the feeling of finding your proverbial plate overflowing. 

It’s all about learning when and how to stick to your guns. Indeed, there’s no need to respond straight away when someone asks you for help with a task; and don’t allow anyone to pressure you into doing otherwise. Instead, inform pushy colleagues that you’ll get back to them and take a moment to take back control of your time. This is where working from home is a blessing; it gives you that extra bit of distance and therefore assistance in saying no gracefully.

Give permission to yourself to put your foot down, with refusal delivered in a firm but friendly manner, and you’ll soon notice people in the office are treating you with more respect, not less. If not, then a little reasoning goes a long way. Remember, it’s better to do a few things well rather than burning the candle at both ends trying to get too much done.

TAKE BREAKS

Remember to take breaks throughout your workday. And no, not those types of break where you try to tackle the household chores. Instead, make time for yourself, to recharge and replenish, to take a walk or to meditate. It’s been suggested that these ‘micro breaks’ are actually hugely beneficial to productivity and workplace contentment. 

According to the Wellbeing Thesis, ‘’research found it is important to take mini-breaks throughout the working day. Mini-breaks help to support your wellbeing and increase productivity. A mini-break is a few minutes away from your work; this may be chatting with someone who is in the room with you or getting a drink.’’

If you find it difficult to pull yourself away from work, set regular reminders on your phone to do just that; doing so can break that trance like state we all fall into, and prompt you to recharge for a moment.