Finding a Work-Life Balance While Job Searching from Home


Finding a true work-life balance can be quite difficult, especially when most of our jobs are entangled within the digital world. But what if you're also job searching on top of that?

We may find ourselves checking and responding to emails after hours and on the weekends, or even skipping meals throughout the day because we were busy and forgot. Since I can remember, it's been a constant struggle for me to leave my job at the office and live my life at home. 

Now that so many of us are working and job searching from home, placing effective boundaries between work and life has become even more difficult. 

Your desk might be in your bedroom, or maybe you're using the kitchen table as your office. The commute may be lighter, but without that physical distance between the two, it can start to feel like there isn't a difference, nor is there a real escape.

As someone who is working part-time while also full-time job searching from home, finding this balance I've talked so much about has honestly been difficult. 

Since quarantine started, keeping track of what day of the week it is has been a struggle; weekends and weekdays are basically one in the same. There is no division between the so called "work week" and what I used to know as the weekend. And in every free second, including weekends, I've found myself saving jobs on LinkedIn or worrying about an application.

On Sunday, I decided I'd make a few changes throughout the week to build those walls up myself. And let me tell you, it made all the difference. 

As we head into the weekend, I encourage you to join me in giving yourself "off" if you can. 

Turn your email notifications off or set an automatic response message stating that you will be back and reachable again on Monday morning. If you're job searching like me, only send out applications during normal work hours (i.e. 9–5 or 10–6) and take the weekend off. No, really. Step away from that LinkedIn app and give yourself a break — you deserve it.  

Now, for those of you who are working full-time and job searching, the weekend might be the only window you have to send out applications. Why not try giving yourself specific timeframes each week (i.e. Saturday morning or Thursday night) to focus on searching rather than pushing yourself after work?

Another change I invite you to make is keeping your bedroom and desk (or makeshift home office) separate. 

If you have the space, try moving your desk and working in another room. And if you don't, make sure to spend time outside of your bedroom for meals and after work. 

Without this separation, you might start to associate your bedroom, which should be a safe and relaxing space, with the stress of work. Eating a meal at your kitchen table will give your brain and body a much needed break from your laptop screen.

Similar to creating spacial boundaries, getting out of the house at least once a day can do wonders. For me, a pro of quarantine life has been not having to leave my house; I'm an introvert and a homebody, and it's been nice to be essentially be praised for such.

But being stuck inside all the time without a change in environment has not been as fun as I'd first thought. Feeling trapped inside one's own home is bound to make even the best of introverts a little stir-crazy sometimes. 

Try taking a walk before or after work, or even on your lunch break. If the weather doesn't agree and you have a car, literally just drive around the block or your neighborhood for a few minutes. Changing your surroundings — even just a tiny bit — will feel good, especially if you've been staring at the same screen and wall for eight hours straight.

And finally, choose something for yourself — something that makes you happy — and make it a priority every day. 

This might be taking a bath on a Monday night, then taking the time on Tuesday to make and enjoy a comforting meal. Or being active every day by going for a walk with a friend or planning a special "date night" with your partner. 

Yesterday, I chose to light an apple-scented candle after work and made my favorite Greek soup with my mom. I quickly forgot about the cover letters and emails I'd spend the entire day sending out, and just enjoyed the moment.

Whatever it may be, by choosing something that puts a smile on your face, you're setting important boundaries and prioritizing yourself. Yes, we need to work to live, but that doesn't mean we should live to work.

I hope you find these changes as helpful as I have. And more importantly, I hope that you give yourself permission to set these boundaries and be present with yourself and loved ones in the coming work week.