Before the pandemic, remote work for you was largely intentional. After all, when you choose a position that allows you to travel and work from home, you can build remote work around the rest of your life—and vice versa.
However, suddenly you had to contend with all kinds of new circumstances. Whether it was kids home from school (who either needed help with online classes or just to be kept occupied), partners also working from home, or the loss of everyday routines, MSLs everywhere have had to figure out how to navigate the new realities of work.
Or maybe it is the new kind of isolation of not physically seeing HCPs, coworkers, friends, and family—along with the flurry of current events that brings a buildup of anxiety and stress.
All the disruption and uncertainty of these unprecedented times can take a very real toll on your mental health and well-being.
Finding any work-life balance is a challenge.
Work-life balance is a famously elusive concept. Some people think it’s just a mindset away. Others subscribe to a more Jack Welsh1 paradigm of thought, where “…There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”1
For MSLs, though, it might be possible to find fulfillment somewhere in the middle of these approaches.
Studies and reports indicate that the next few months (or years) are sure to bring about many more changes. From continued hybrid scientific engagement and school schedules for your children to potential additional waves or shutdowns, finding balance should be part of everyone’s long-term wellness strategy, yours included.2
Here are some tips for staying productive, alleviating stress, and avoiding burnout on your work-from-home journey—not just for today, but for the long haul.3
Manage your energy
One of the main barriers preventing people from showing up with more energy is a lack of awareness.
The energy level you are used to isn’t fixed! It’s merely a result of your habits. The behavioral system you have set up (whether intentionally or unintentionally) is getting you the exact results it should.
With this in mind, managing your energy starts by looking at your “system of behaviors.” This means the daily habits, behaviors, rituals, and activities you partake in every week. When looking at this system, two questions matter most and the answers give you some clear insights and instructions:
- “What enhances my energy? After doing X, do I feel markedly better?”
- “What depletes my energy? After doing Y, do I feel noticeably worse?”
Some things bring your energy up. Do more of these things!
Other things bring your energy down. Do less of these!
Create a Schedule and Set Boundaries
Even if your employer doesn’t follow a rigid schedule, creating (and sticking to) a regular schedule can help you maintain productivity and ease some of the stress that comes from working all the time. Set your work hours and log off at the end of your scheduled workday so you can focus on other things.
When your work hours have a beginning and an end, you can more easily set boundaries with your family, coworkers, and manager.
Give Yourself Breaks
Going from item to item with no time to reflect and regroup doesn’t allow your body or brain to work optimally. Remember to give yourself a little space between outputs.
Spend ten minutes reflecting on a meeting, take a 15-minute break with your family or a roommate, or go for a quick walk around the block. And don’t be tempted to look at your phone or answer an email during this time. You’ll feel refreshed and reconnected with the world around you.
Keep the connection going
Why not schedule a quick 10 minutes/day to chat with coworkers (via Slack, Zoom, or any other real-time communication tool) about topics unrelated to work? Social support and connection can help you decompress.
Schedule the fresh air you used running from HCP to HCP
Studies show that breathing fresh air leads to better decision making, higher test scores, and improved information processing—and it’s a wonderful way to support your wellness.
It is too easy to stay cooped up in your home office all day; make sure to get outside for some fresh air (or open a window!) whenever you can.
Make Time for Yourself
Setting aside time to take care of yourself will bring balance to your day and give you the energy and focus to tackle the next task with your mind refreshed. Prioritize exercise, yoga, meditation, hobbies, well, anything that brings you joy and peace will positively impact your ability to achieve a better work-life balance when you work full time from home.
There may be times when taking breaks and having the best-laid plans to take care of yourself are still not enough. It’s normal to be nervous about the state of things right now—like your family, your health, and the economy. Just remember that your mental health is important, too. And please, don’t be afraid to reach out to a family member, friend, colleague, human resources team, or an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for support and resources.
Danielle is a creative, results-driven, international pediatric nurse, with 25 years of Global Pharmaceutical experience, project management, and scientific learning capability, and leadership building. She has extensive qualifications in all facets of drug development, scientific learning, and onboarding program within matrix organizations. Danielle possesses strong strategic planning skills, from performing need analysis through implementation and evaluation of the impact on business. Excellent problem-solving skills and a strong orientation in customer satisfaction. Some of her key achievements: Designed, implemented, and delivered a new approach to leadership Training for Field Medical Managers Lead cross-disciplinary scientific and leadership learning for 1,000 field associates globally;
- A key contributor to effecting change:
- moving the organization towards a team-based culture and empowering and encouraging scientific challenge and debate through the design of workshops, contextualized training, and other development opportunities.
- management initiatives and facilitated Medical Affairs business transformational activities to align and improve the effectiveness and delivery of scientific engagement with external stakeholders across Franchises
Danielle has more than 15 years of experience in Capability and Leadership Building in the project team and individual leadership skills. Coached, mentored, facilitated expertise for the pharmaceutical industry.