How to: Work – Life Balance

DateTime.AfterPost - DateTime.Now = 5 minutes

The 2020 Pandemic

coronavirus structure

In February 2020 a global Pandemic emerged. At first, in December 2019 we started hearing about cases of an unknown virus from the Coronavirus family in China. The cases appeared later that month in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam… And then in Italy. From Italy it was a matter of days until it appeared in all Europe and, eventually, in Israel – where I live.

The WHO rapidly declared the Covid-19 as a Pandemic; schools were closed all over the world, restrictions on when and where you can be outside your house were declared, businesses needed to re-invent themselves to online marketing as they could not open their physical stores and all workers were obligated to work from home (that is, those who can).

I’m talking about this past-tense, but it is still active. The restrictions are now less strict, but the pandemic is very much still here, and its affect on us for the long run is unknown. I’m writing in past tense, maybe as a wishful thinking this will be over someday.

My Work-Life pre-Pandemic

work life balance joke
Pre-Pandemic I would get to my work place at 7:30-8:00 everyday and leave at 19:00-19:30. Those were the hours I worked, not because I’m obligated to work that many hours, but because I always felt like I needed to finish something, “just this little thing” before tomorrow. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. I think its worst when you can actually take your work home.
Taking your work home is a great way to blur the line between your work and your home. Happily for me I can’t just take my work home and work from my living room, when I leave my office, there is nothing I can do to continue.
I would get very early in the morning because I needed to get on two buses to get there. Taking them later in the morning, adding all the traffic that was building up, would take me more time to get there. I’m not a person that likes wasting time, less when in public transportation, and getting up early is OK for me, thus I preferred arriving early and fast than later and slow.
Why then, I leave so late if I got there so early? Well, my coworkers wouldn’t get there so early, so for them leaving at 18:30-19:00 was the rational thing to do. I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving the office “early”, before they did. Moreover, because of this “need” to finish stuff before tomorrow, I would schedule meetings with my boss whenever he was available, i.e. easily after 17:30.

Work during the first wave of the Pandemic

I wrote a blog post about this here. During the Pandemic first wave, we were all divided into two shifts. The morning shift worked between 07:00 and 15:00 and the evening shift work between 15:30 and 23:00. You couldn’t stay before/after your shift and you couldn’t change shifts. (I once dreamt I didn’t pay attention to the clock and stayed after 15:00 during the morning shift. Then I had to escape my work without being noticed, running from the security personal).
Luckily for me, I bought a car about two weeks before the Pandemic stroke in Israel. Getting there at 07:00 was a piece of cake, no traffic at all. Getting there at 15:30 on the other hand was a bit more trickier. I couldn’t get there before 15:30, but if I got there after 15:30 I would need to complete the hours to 7:30 hours (thus, staying after 23:00).
My first morning shift was strange. Suddenly, half of my team wasn’t with me. They were in the other shift. Everything I needed from them, was ought to wait until their’s shift, my coded needed to get PR into master without me there explaining what I did. I started writing code a bit different, better – I think. It was like I needed my code to be perfect and to explain itself better than ever. I couldn’t wait for later in the day to schedule appointments with my boss because, a. there was no “later in the day” and b. he was in the other shift. But then something even stranger happened. At 15:00 the bells rung and we were all “expelled” from work. That is how I found myself at 15:30, sitting in my living room, with nothing to do.

welcome to work-life balance

The “Life” part of Work-Life balance

It’s very easy to understand what is the “Work” part of the Work-Life balance. But have you ever stopped to think what is the “Life” part?
Obviously, my weekends are all about this “Life” part. I travel, see friends, see my family and my girlfriend’s family and such and such. Sometimes I would go out with friends or my girlfriend mid-week. If I’m taking a course, I would leave some time available for that. Sometimes I invested in some really fancy cooking. But what do you do when you get home 3-4 hours earlier than you use to? Every single day?
It got me thinking, what is my “Life” part? Simply, it’s what I love to do. I filled my time with writing this blog, doing wood crafts, exploring more cooking doctrines and more. My girlfriend and I started playing more and more board games, we built a giant puzzle. We started filling our calendar with fun and cool stuff to entertain ourselves. We built an “empty-beer-bottles” rack (here is a post about this!) and we are not building a cool bench!
Even more important than this, I suddenly realized I don’t need to stay late working because there is always a tomorrow to finish it. And even if I do finish something, tomorrow there will be another thing to do. Always. 

After the first wave

We are now back to working from 08:00 to 17:30 official hours and instead of getting there at 07:30-08:00, I get there at 08:00-08:30. Instead of leaving at 18:30-19:00 and south of that, I leave at 17:30-18:00 and have the rest of the day for “Life”. The most important and shocking part? I don’t feel my work quality nor quantity has decreased. On the contrary, it’s has even increased if you ask me.

I’m sure I have still a lot to understand in this “Work-Life” balance but I think I’m on the right path.

No Comments

Add your comment