There’s no better way to put it: the new normal has significantly transformed the face of work today. Many businesses have been affected to the point of restructuring while others, unfortunately, have been forced to shut their operations down. Fortunately, some businesses have adjusted just in time, offering a unique work set-up, one that is flexible yet managed, and one that is not familiar to most, if not all.
This leads us to the issue that comes with remote work, which includes working long hours – something that you might have seen in other countries, such as China and Japan, but has led to devastating results to the mind and bodies of workers from those places. But are we any different from them? After all, some may think that working from home offers the most convenience. However, is it sustainable for people to keep this set-up, especially since the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Working Long Hours? Here’s How You Can Survive and Thrive in the New Norm
The discussion about working long hours can be liking walking on a tightrope. On the one hand, working hard directly affects one’s productivity and growth. You develop skills and gain knowledge quickly, and at the same time, your grit increases. That said, working hard can be truly a unique ad satisfying experience if you truly respect and enjoy what you do.
On the other hand, you can easily fall into the trap of getting burned out. And in the process, you might damage your relationships, lose your health, and make bad decisions at work. This is because when you put in more time and effort at work, you take away some off from other aspects of your life, including your wellbeing.
Listed below are some strategies that can help you work long hours (at least for some time) and still feel happy and healthy.
- Look for abridged versions of self-care methods and strategies.
Haven’t got enough time to do a 40-minute meditation? Whenever you go to the toilet, try taking a few deep, mindful breaths.
Too busy to go to the gym? Try using the stairs instead whenever you get the chance.
Don’t feel like you have the energy to attend a yoga class? Watch some videos on how to do yin yoga (restorative) poses at home. Try keeping one pose for five minutes or until reheating your food on the microwave is done.
Haven’t got any chance to cook? Look for healthier but scrumptious versions of pre-cooked dishes. Try getting something simple and nutritious, such as adding an avocado to your cold burrito. It might just give you something new to tickle your palate!
- Develop new habits to reduce the feeling of getting overburdened or distracted, which could lead to unnecessary stress.
Busyness can often leave us resorting to unnecessary behaviors that could add up to our stress levels. This includes rushing or missing important stuff. To prevent this, establishing healthier routines can help us better manage the situation.
One form of problem you might develop amid your busyness is neglecting your relationships by having little to no time to ensure healthy ones with others, and even yourself. To deal with this, try to develop small habits such as leaving your phone at the entry, so you can focus your attention on your partner for even ten minutes right when you come home from work.
If you have children, try creating and sticking to a checklist. This can help you remember what you need to accomplish each morning. In coming up with your check or to-do list, make sure to include things that apply to particular days of the week, such as days when your children would need to bring their gym attire to school.
After you have come up with a working routine that’s convenient enough for you, try to further optimize it as much as possible. Zone in on the things that you can’t do without in the first place.
In making your checklist, take note of the things you need to accomplish in the evenings, to lessen the burden you need to cover in the morning. This includes preparing your clothes for the next day, packing your lunch, or charging your devices.
- Explore ways to integrate personal satisfaction experiences.
Look into sped-up versions of sports that you have fun playing, just as there are simplified versions of self-care techniques you can do on your own. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips you can consider:
Find options that will not require you to invest a long time to accomplish, and consequently, cause you to binge or stay up late. So instead of watching TV late at night, you can explore listening to podcasts about topics that you love. Remember, small changes in behaviour (whether healthy or not) can have a big impact in your life.
Set routines, such as working a fixed schedule so you would get to see friends that you don’t have time to plan a meet-up with, as this can also eat up some of your time and energy, as well. If your work demands much of your time, set your mind to make changes to your plans, even at the last minute. Still, by planning your routines and schedules, you can close off some days and plan around them.
Note: It is important to know yourself well. For example, you might be aware that meeting friends for an after-work drink on a Friday feels nurturing despite your busy schedule while having people over for dinner feels too stressful.
- Keep supplies of things you need more often to lessen the stress of needing more of this stuff when you need them the most.
To ensure productivity and optimal self-care, even at work, it is a good idea to stock up on some snacks as well as work clothes, so you have everything that you need on hand. For instance, having a pair of sneakers that you can slip right on for a quick walk outside on your lunch break can be handy, especially on those days when you could use a quick breather.
Have extras of objects that are prone to wandering, such as chargers or charging cords.
It is also a good idea to keep a spare of items you depend on, but are likely to break at some point. These could be things related to your personal enjoyment/satisfaction, say, headphones, for example.
After working long hours, the last thing you’ll want to do is to drop by the store, simply to get a supply of a single item, such as pain relievers or toilet paper. With this in mind, keep an inventory list of the things that you would warrant a quick trip to the grocery or supermarket, so you can schedule it ahead even before these things run out.
- It’s okay to pull the brakes for a change of perspective.
Though you might be tempted to work long hours for a time, keeping up with this routine is not sustainable. Instead, you must learn to step back and see what has been going on in your life from an outsider’s point of view. Are you still focused on your goals, or are you just going through the motions and letting time pass you by?
If you can see that you’re leaning towards the latter, then consider taking a mental break – perhaps, a full weekend off, every once in a while.
Even minor changes in your routine can help you mentally step back and gain perspective, particularly if they include opportunities to communicate with new people or being in a new physical environment. For the latter, it might be as easy as going to a movie by yourself after work if that’s something you’d never do otherwise.
Remember that you do not have to do something big to help you get the mental break that you so deserve. Even if it’s hard to get away under these current circumstances, small changes in your routines and behaviors can help you get back into perspective on how you are treating your body, others, and your work, in the process.
It’s understandable how many of us would want to spread ourselves thin, working long hours during this time of the pandemic. Perhaps, there’s the dark side of wanting to be grateful for what you have (such as your job) to the point of overworking yourself. It could also be the fear of not wanting to lose your job, when so many others already have, so you try to do more. Either way, overworking can lead to physical problems, when the stress starts to build up – and it will. So, even before you reach the point of breaking down, try to develop healthier habits and better approaches to dealing with your routine, especially for those who do not have a choice but to work longer hours than others. Keep this guide handy so you’ll know how you can best approach your work-life routine this time of the pandemic.