How to master the dance of balance in remote work

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Carly Ewasiuk

5 min read

  • Entrepreneurship

How COVID-19 has thrown us off balance

2020 was a year of upheaval and change. Remote work came with a day notice for many who were habituated in the daily commute and the luxuries of office life. We all had to shift our lifestyles at a moment’s notice and embrace the uncertainty of what was to unfold.

In the first moments, while the news about COVID-19 was still relatively novel, the consensus seemed to be that the changes in place would be short-term, ranging from weeks to months.

For me personally, the day that I was notified of the beginning of my remote journey, my place of work was talking about the change in terms of weeks. As I left the office on the 13th of March, 2020, I left with the thought that I would be returning in at most a month.

Pause for a moment of silence for my poor plant Jerome who was among the many who were put at a disadvantage during this time.

jerome the dead succulent :(
Even low maintenance succulents were impacted by the COVID shutdown

The courage to live in collective uncertainty

Change is challenging to maneuver. Even for those with a growth mindset who are able to embrace change, change still requires a whole lot of mental energy and will power to adapt and thrive in a new context.

Our communities were enveloped by fear and uncertainty. Our cities suddenly became ghost towns. Our grocery stores looked as though they wouldn’t be able to support our basic needs. Everything was beyond recognition. And all we could do was try our best to keep moving without knowing what was looming around the corner.

It took a lot of courage.

Using journalling as a tool for working through problems

Journalling is an excellent approach for getting clarity around problems that arise. It provides the objectivity that we usually reach out to trusted friends or family for. Feeling uncertain about what my life was about to become, I sat down on that first day, laid out my concerns and made a plan to make the best of the shift.

My two primary concerns were:

  • How am I going to manage living and working in a 420ft apartment that I share with my partner?
  • How am I going to be able to downsize from two external monitors to a single 13 inch laptop screen?

I was not thinking about how to thrive in a work from home environment, I was focused on how to survive.

We need to upgrade our routines to prioritize our health and well-being

It’s been a longer go than we all expected. It’s been over a year since the initial lockdown. The idea of re-opening keeps being pushed further into the future. Many workplaces have made permanent changes to support remote work. Simply pushing through will not work forever, since it is running on our willpower. Our willpower has limited resources and when overused can lead to us feeling depleted.

The lockdown gave us the gift of a subtle reset and a nudge to question whether our current habits were serving us. But we are the ones who have to put in the work to make a difference in our lives and it all starts with how we treat ourselves.

We are more productive but at what expense?

Working from home has made our work so much more efficient. The days of chatter, water cooler chats, and interruptions are no longer filling our days. We’re spending the majority of our days sitting in the same position staring at the same screen. We have more meetings. We rarely speak to people outside of who we are directly working with. We’ve lost the balance.

We’ve traded in our moments of connection for more focused productivity. I challenge each of us to add activities to our days that are centred around giving ourselves the loving attention we deserve. We are living through an unusual time. We owe it to ourselves to treat ourselves with a little compassion.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas to incorporate during your day to take a moment to reconnect with the one and only you.

It’s not selfish to fill your own cup first, it’s necessary.

These activities don’t take much time to do, but they will add years onto your life.

  1. Joint circles

    As our friends at Restore Human say: “Motion is Lotion”. These simple exercises will get the blood flowing throughout your body and you will have even more energy when you return to your focus work.

  2. Nature walks.

    Go outside and listen to the birds. Smell the smells of the day. Be fully present and observe how the seasons are changing day by day. Say hello to your neighbourhood Mr Crow. 

  3. Eat lunch on the floor.

    If you’re working from home, I assume you are spending a lot of time in the 90degree position (sitting). Do yourself a favour and switch it up! It might hurt at first (it probably will) but it will hurt a lot less than the immobility you’re preventing from doing it.

  4. Drink herbal teas.

    There are so many healing teas out there full of herbs that support healthy immune function, relax your nervous system and make you feel so nourished from the inside out. I would recommend going to Gaia Garden. The teas are made by herbalists who are knowledgeable and helpful. Plus, it’s a local business!

  5. Sit in stillness.

    Everyone’s saying it because it truly does help to keep you centred and grounded. If you’re already on a practice, awesome – keep up the good work and I’d love to hear some of your strategies to maintain it. If you’re on and off, that’s totally normal. The goal is consistency, not perfection, so 2 minutes on the toilet is better than no time at all. Start small and be kind to yourself if you fall off. It’s hard to build and maintain habits. And you are doing an amazing thing by even trying.

  6. Get your movement in.

    If you’re having a low-energy day, try going outside and getting some physical activity. It’s counterintuitive and the last thing that’s often desired on a low-energy day, but usually it’s exactly the thing that will raise the energy.

  7. Get that Vitamin D.

    Feel the sun on your face. Fully feel it. Take off your glasses so you can reap the full benefits of the healing sunshine. Your body needs it as does everything else on this planet. It is life’s most beautiful gift. It feels good during, and you feel good after.

Balance is a dance, not a destination.

Your needs are constantly changing. What enlivens you one day may exhaust you the next. It’s OK to listen to those cues and do what your body is asking for. You’re not lazy for taking a day off when you’re not feeling up to it. You don’t have to struggle through every single day. We’re all in a pandemic. We understand. It’s been tough on all of us. You have permission to treat yourself with love and compassion.

Having a self care practice and prioritizing yourself will not only make you feel better, but it will enable you to show up more fully for others and that is where the real magic happens.