Striking a healthy work-life balance was challenging well before COVID-19 hit. Then working from home became the ‘new normal’ and the line between our personal and professional lives practically disappeared. Sounds like an exaggeration? The numbers don’t lie: Over half of all employees now routinely work well past 40 hours a week, and over 60 percent report working over five hours on weekends.
More than ever, though, people are looking for ways to work smarter, not harder—all within normal business hours. But how do you clock out on time (whether in-office or at home) without sacrificing productivity?
The secret is to get organized. The more organized you are, the more productive you are, and the sooner a healthy work-life balance becomes a reality instead of a pipe dream. You can maintain your productivity levels and sign out on time, without the guilt of leaving unfinished work on your plate.
Keep work and home life separate, but organize in one place
Without clear boundaries, it can be almost impossible to “turn off” work and “turn on” home. Physically separating your work and home life is a start, but even if you can maintain separate spaces, the very nature of our world puts the two sides on a collision course, clashing constantly across our computers, mobile devices, and social media accounts.
Even if it isn’t possible to create this separation physically, though, mentally separating work and home can have a profound effect on your thought processes and organizational capacity.
Individual project management and productivity apps can help, but since most are designed for a specific purpose, this approach often proves counterproductive as you toggle between multiple apps for multiple tasks. The resulting frustration is a precursor to abandoning an organizational strategy altogether.
A tool that allows you to keep work and home tasks separate, yet organize them in a single place, can be the differentiator. Evernote Professional combines the function of multiple existing apps—task management, schedule visibility, and information collection and retrieval—into a single access point, making it easy to organize every aspect of your life and find that ever-elusive balance.
Power tip #1: Connecting Evernote with your Google Calendar brings your notes and schedule together, making notes easier to find so you can get more done. You’ll even get notified when it’s time to take notes, or to open an existing note related to your meeting. To help maintain your work-life balance, try creating separate calendars in Google to keep track of different types of events. That way, you’ll only get Evernote calendar notifications for the events you actually need to take notes for (and not for your kids’ softball practice).
Power tip #2: Evernote Professional or Teams customers can add multiple scratch pad and pinned note widgets to personalize the app and stay on track. For example, you could use different colored scratch pads to distinguish between work and home priorities. And because Evernote syncs across all your devices, your information is always with you.
Maintain focus so you can clock out on time
Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you’re free from office bureaucracy. On the other? You’re never really off the clock. It’s tough to keep your head in the game when you work ALL. THE. TIME. But do you really need to work those extra hours? Or is it a matter of managing your time better? If it’s the latter, consider filtering out unnecessary tasks and devising strategies to make your day more efficient.
Starting the day with a clear understanding of your work boundaries, in tandem with a workday that is clearly defined, will make you more productive and reduce overtime. And by ensuring tasks are completed by the end of the workday, you can maintain that all-important divide: turning your work commitments off—no matter where you’re working from—and clocking out.
To fully disconnect, shut down your laptop at the end of the day and step away from the desk. The more you’re able to disengage from the work mindset, the more relaxed your spare time will be. This will also allow you to recharge and be more productive when you return to work.
Here are few strategies to help:
- Review your completed tasks at the end of your workday. Appreciate the work you’ve completed and set reasonable goals for the next day.
- Stick to a set end time for your workday. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a traditional hour like 5 p.m., but it should be a reasonable time that doesn’t change.
- Create a third space that acts as a bridge between work and home. This helps prepare you for the mind shift required to transition from employee to parent or partner. This bridge can be in the form of taking the dog for a walk, creating a commute, or exercising.
Power tip: Use Tasks in Evernote to create a list of to-dos at the start of each day and prioritize them accordingly. You can keep them all in one place, along with your calendar, reminders, and due dates for long-term projects. If you manage a team, you can also use Tasks to redistribute and balance employee workload.
Busy-ness is the enemy
Have you heard of “busy-ness,” or the illusion of productivity? You know, when people appear to be productive when they’re not? This need to show that they’re ‘busy’ actually makes employees unproductive and overworked while wasting resources and time. It also creates stress and more overtime. To-do lists, where tasks are organized in order of priority, and management models such as the Eisenhower model—sorting tasks into four buckets based on their urgency and importance—can be extremely helpful here.
Power tip: Evernote’s Home dashboard provides full visibility into your workday, complete with task lists that organize your to-dos. You can customize your Home to show you the information you want, and with everything in one place, it’s easy to see what needs to be accomplished. Set priority levels for your tasks using flags, due dates, and emojis, and consider setting up a tagging convention for easier organizing.
Detachment can be an asset
In today’s fiercely competitive world, many of us feel compelled to go the extra mile. The idea of “detaching” may be seen as negative, with connotations of being unproductive. But knowing how and when to detach is just as important for your productivity as knowing how and when to immerse yourself completely.
When people fail to regularly detach themselves from work, it can spell disaster for their mental and physical well-being, which can drive down motivation and productivity. So log out, chill out, and come back with a fresh perspective. It may make all the difference.