Planning the way ahead

Although restrictions on movement and socialising with others are easing slightly here in Scotland, we are still very much in COVID-19 lockdown.

I am grateful to be one of the lucky ones who hasn’t been furloughed and has been able to keep on working from home during the course of the lockdown. For the sake of my own mental health, I have tried my best to keep, more or less, to the work schedule I maintained when I attended the office on a daily basis.

A balancing act

However, of late, I’ve noticed that work is creeping more and more into my non-work time in the evening. Worse still, my weekends appear to be fair game for this work/life balance creepage too!

Whilst I relish the chance to keep my mind engaged and occupied throughout the duration of my nine-to-five day, I don’t want to succumb to being obsessive about the number of unread emails in my work inbox when I log off for the evening! Nor do I want my weekends to become an excuse to “get a head start” on the work week ahead.

For context: I can, at times, be one of those slightly obsessive types that can easily vanish down “the rabbit hole” and lose all track of time when I start something that grabs my interest. A new piece of software to play with, or an interesting article on how to extract 99.99% efficiency from your RAM/SSD/GPU, for example. When this happens, minutes become hours, and before I know it, it’s nearly 3:00 AM.

This “Wonderland” effect is now beginning to seep, insidiously, in to my work time. It’s starting to stretch my work day well in to the evening, and I don’t like it. I work to live, not the other way around!

Compartmentalisation

Therefore, in an uncharacteristicly bold move (for me, anyway, it is) I have made the following commitment to myself:-

For the sake of my personal mental health, I will start compartmentalising my work time and my personal time.

The plan

The main thing I can do to help alleviate things is to ensure that work time is strictly enforced. When I sign off at the end of the work day, that has to be it for work until the next working day. Working days, for me, are Monday to Friday, 0830 – 1700.

Undoubtedly, there will be exceptions to this. Given the nature of my job, (I’m an IT Systems Administrator), I have to make allowances for this. However, I need to ensure that these exceptions are kept to an absolute minimum, and are only used for genuine (emergency) reasons.

All going OK, that then means that I am free from 1700 daily to engage in whatever I want to until 0830 the following working day. OK, I have to factor in family time, eating, sleeping, and such things, but it means that I have ample time to shift my focus from work to something completely different. For most weekday evenings, that’s at least 4-5 non-working hours that can be spent far more productively!

The next steps

Divvying my day up in to work time and personal time seems to be an obvious step in the right direction. Time will tell if it’s as clear cut as I make it out to be.

Now that I will be making more free time for myself, I have a list of few ideas as to how to make productive use of it. Creating more content for here is at the top of that list.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned …

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