Office work and remote work contribute to quite different lifestyles, but both share the burden of long hours. Remote working is even more conducive to long hours as it combines work and leisure. But work shouldn’t be your main focus in life, and you have other things to watch out for. Here are a few ways to use your personal calendar to prioritize time despite your work responsibilities.
1. Create blocks of personal time
Your contract requires you to work certain hours or a certain amount per day. But outside of them, do your best avoid work altogether – otherwise you will spend less time with your partner. You can help yourself to set this time aside by creating time blocks specifically for your family life. This may be all it takes to make a difference, even if the effect is purely psychological for you.
Different calendar platforms offer different ways to visualize your schedule, but most represent time periods as rectangular blocks. This is one reason why this method is called time blocking – the other is that other responsibilities are blocked. You do not have to think about work at these times, because it is already accounted for or will be later. It’s a great way to systemize your daily agenda.
2. Redirect work communications during off-duty
To facilitate these blocks of time, you can devise a system to redirect work communications while you are not at work. For example, current colleagues can be your point of contact for others to get in touch with questions usually directed to you. In calendar programs that allow this, you can set up alternate contacts within your account for this purpose. This way, people who need you can be directly referred to your point of contact if they invite you for something.
If all else fails, let people know ahead of time that you won’t be available and stick with it. As mentioned before, work is not your only priority and therefore does not have to come before your personal life. Anything work-related can wait until the next day — and if it doesn’t, you’ll have to be paid for your time.
3. Mute work notifications during free time
In the end, you don’t have to do any of these things or even contact others. If there is a possibility that coworkers will not respect your hours, communicating your unavailability can make that possible. In the end, muting notifications after work, no matter how necessary, will save you from a bigger headache. And even if you’re partially available, you don’t want to be pulled back to the office with every notification.
A convenient alternative is to have separate work and personal devices, with the former being the sole recipient of work notifications. But of course not all jobs have set hours, and yours may require it be on call for a longer period of time. In this case, you can combine independent devices with a physical separation of them over time with your significant other.
4. Set automatic responses for events outside working hours
Another method to keep your time yours is to have your calendar automatically reject appointments outside office hours. This way you don’t have to do anything active yourself; if you really need it, the sender can contact you personally. But again, doing this creates a targeted filter that works in the background of your work. And the more robust the process, the harder it is for others to get around your personal time limits.
You can set specific days and times for the automation so it doesn’t happen universally. For example, if you have a date night on Friday night, you can only activate it then. Watching a movie every night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. can help make sure your calendar avoids just that period. What works best for you and your work-life balance is ideal.
5. Keep your schedule transparent
Finally, it may be easiest for you to make your schedule publicly available for colleagues to consider. Place the link in your email and other message signatures for anyone who contacts you to see. Label your previously created blocks of time as precisely as you need, including the nature of the time, its inflexibility, etc. You want to make it clear that it will be moved for nothing.
It may be useful to use the scheme to: stay on track — and be transparent to others. You can directly plan events in it, such as dinners or concerts, to maintain their importance to you and your colleagues. Nothing will make it easier to prioritize your personal time than being open, but also determined about your schedule.
The most challenging part of working is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Even when you’re needed at work, less personal time means less rest and therefore lower workday efficiency. So set these limits, leave your work phone at home and have a good night with your significant others.
Image Credit: Photo by Gustavo Alves on Unsplash; Thank you!
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