Getting that “Online-Offline” Work-Life Balance

Christelle Viljoen

In Touch Volunteer

If you want to maintain a healthy ‘online-offline’ balance, you need to take control of your time. Set aside enough time to work so that you do not feel stressed or anxious during your online time.

With the continuing community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has now become the new norm and it is becoming more difficult to maintain that work-life balance. Where there used to be a clear distinction between the office and home, you now have your office in your personal space. You may be experiencing pressure to be online and available at all times. Besides work, you use online platforms to stay connected with family and friends. Everything is happening online, but it is still important to find a balance between online and offline life for your mental health and well-being.


The following extract is from an interview with a businessman working from home in Metro Manila. He gives some practical advice on maintaining ‘online-offline’ work-life balance.

Photo by Pixabay

How do you stay productive while maintaining your personal time?

I create work hours for myself and try to stick to a routine. Although I have flexible hours during the lock-down, a structured time enables me to ‘walk away’ after a day’s work. I informed my employers and colleagues that I am only available during those hours. Of course, this is within reason, and I make sure to keep my work up-to-date. This gives me the time to ‘shut-down’. Having to attend to phone calls or emails in my offline time puts me right back into working mode. One of my colleagues who has young children, organizes his working day around their needs, opting to work early mornings and late evenings. He says that this works for him if he sticks to his routine.

 

How do you make sure that you maintain your own schedule?

I shut my computer down when my workday ends. There is always more work to do, and this forces me to walk away. I won’t be tempted to check on work when I see my computer on my way to do something else.

 

Do you have any other tips for your home ‘office’?

Having a designated workspace is essential. I like to keep everything neat and organized as if I am at the office. This helps me to create a productive space. I can also physically distance myself from my workspace at the end of the day.

 

How do you balance your online social/work obligations with your offline family/personal time?

I schedule my social online meetings in advance. Not only does this give me something to look forward to, but it lets others know when I am available. I realized that online socials are very different from physically going out with friends. After spending an entire workday in front of the computer, I need to prioritize my offline time. This also gives me a chance to spend time with my wife. We organize online meetings with our relatives every weekend. During the lockdown, we have been checking in with them more often than before.

 

What do you do in your offline time?

I try to do fun things offline, like reading a book or exercising. It gives my body time to rest away from the computer. I used to watch series all the time, but now I do things offline. We’ve recently started playing board games again, and I can recommend it.

Photo by Peter Olexa

​If you want to maintain a healthy ‘online-offline’ balance, you need to take control of your time. Set aside enough time to work so that you do not feel stressed or anxious during your online time. Make sure that others know when you are available or not to maintain your personal boundaries. This could make you unnecessarily anxious and cause you to feel as if you should be available all the time. You need to be able to forget about work during your offline time (even if your office is right there in your home), otherwise you stay alert when you should be resting. Do something fun offline and spend quality time with the people around you. The ‘online-offline’ balance will look different for each person. Find what works for you and go for it. Finding that balance will help boost your well-being and your productivity, making the new normal a little less stressful and more manageable.

Christelle Viljoens is a Fourth Year Honours Degree student in University of South Africa

Feature Photo by Duncan Kyhl

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