A Personal Redefinition of Work-Life Balance in the New Normal

In 2020, it’s almost possible for people to never leave their homes. We can shop online, do our groceries on the internet, and find all kinds of entertainment under the sun. Recently, many people have realized that it’s also possible to work from home.

Bringing the office to our homes always sounded like the dream to almost everyone I know, including myself, but we weren’t prepared for the catastrophe that the WFH lifestyle would bring. Internet issues, people from our house (and our neighbors), barking dogs, loud vehicles, and scorching hot weather are only a few of the things that we realized we had to live with.

We try to force our way through it, but it seems like it’s so tough to combine work and life. Instead of getting everything done more easily, why is it so hard to adjust?

When I started working from home, I immediately realized that my lunch breaks took longer for two reasons:

  1. I now eat with my family rather than my colleagues. Eating with my family meant talking about current events in our lives, such as school for my sister, me finding work, or news about our newly-adopted puppy. With my officemates, I’d have no problems immediately leaving after eating, but I’m not that kind of person at home.  
  2. As a resident residing in my residence, I’m also expected to carry the burden of doing the household chores. I’m the official dishwasher during this timeslot and at night. I do help with other tasks whenever I can, but that’s what I’m expected to do every day.

Since the time I spend for my supposed lunch break (compared to my previous full-time job) spiked up from one to two hours, I started to get upset about the amount of time I was wasting. I love having fun with the people I love over lunch and I have no problems with a huge pile of kitchenware to wash, but I didn’t like that it got in the way of work. It feels like enjoying the endless scrolling on social media then hating it immediately after realizing how much time was spent on it.

But time with my family, in this case, is NOT procrastination because it’s something I value. Yet why do I feel like it gets in the way?

You might be in the same boat as me, having a hard time separating the things we love with the work that we’ve brought into our homes. Your family and friends aren’t the only factors that can seemingly hinder us from working. It could be a certain passion project taking time away from you, a hobby that you love deeply, or even a new exercise routine that you need to maintain.

The combination of work and life in our own homes has created a new system of life. We didn’t just stack our work on top of our lives but have rather intertwined the two. If you get the reference, it’s Gogeta, instead of Goku and Vegeta separately.

If everything around us has changed, doesn’t it make sense to create a new normal for ourselves as well?

We can’t expect the things that worked for us before to work the same right now. Lunchtime used to mean keeping myself well-rested for an hour to continue the next four hours of work. But now that I don’t have an 8-hour, full-time job, I should get out of the mindset that lunch breaks are a maximum of an hour only!

I have to stop thinking that waking up early is only for morning shifts. While I can choose to push off work to the afternoon, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other things to do. That mindset is one of the reasons why I lived like a piece of garbage for a while. I forgot that I have other things besides my source of income that I’m responsible for.

I can’t rely on someone assigning work for me, because I’m on my own now. It’s up to me to find something to do so I can eat and save money for the future.

We might live different lives, but that change of mind might be what you need. If you no longer have the same hours or days of work as before, stop thinking that you’re going to get them back anytime soon. Find ways to fill in for those gaps and make things work for yourself.

Even if you’re working full-time, you still have options! If you need to have a conversation with your family about making things efficient, do it. If it doesn’t work, try talking to your employer if they can help with your adjustment.

Because you’ve seen the possibilities of working from home, do you feel that you can do better? Or is the job simply not working out for you anymore? You might want to consider a change of pace.

I know it’s going to be hard, but imagine the people who don’t have the means to read this post, yet have found ways to adjust during this time. We can do it too.

As it turns out, spending two hours during lunch isn’t so bad after all. Because I accepted that this was going to be a regular part of my day, there’s no reason to be upset.

I can choose to be in the moment while eating lunch. Whether it’s a blazing hot or stormy cold afternoon, I can have fun annoying my sisters, joke around with my mom, or have thought-provoking discussions with my dad.

After that, it’s time to organize everything neatly for dishwashing in our tiny sink. I do the plates and silverware first, proceed to glassware, then pots, pans, and everything else. (Greasy plastic containers are the bane of my existence though.) Once I’m through with kitchen duties, I can resume work after having some “me time” and an afternoon nap. I didn’t settle for doing more work after work, so I switched things around in my schedule.

I’ve never thought about looking my day in that perspective before. I’m grateful that God let my new normal make way for these moments.

Remember, something’s bound to happen that’s going to change all this again, but we just have to learn to live with the new normal again, whatever that may look like.

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