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Lockdown and its Effects on Work/Life Balance

- By Tannistha Roy (DanceofChaos)

Illustration by Christian Schroedel

2020 has changed the way we work, for most of us. Suddenly we find, working from home is the new normal. Teachers, professors, personal trainers had to update their tech savvy and learn to hold video classes and trainings. Video conference calling have been the new normal right now. Most of us were not prepared for this mentally or logistically. This has thrown the work-life management off the balance once again. In this post, I am trying to explore the problems created by the enforced lockdown and some of the positive outcomes of it.

Saving Time /Separation of space

For a lot of us, getting ready is no longer needed unless we have video calls or video classes. I am working most of the time in my pyjamas. The whole effort of getting ready can be invested somewhere else. The time that gets saved on daily commute, boy the day suddenly have so many extra hours.

It was so refreshing to have so much time freed up suddenly in the beginning. But as days rolled into weeks and weeks rolled into months: I realised, there is no separation of getting up and getting to work.

More often than not, I am starting to work, immediately after getting up and without getting breakfast. The mental distancing between work and my own personal time was gone.

Going Out/ Staying In

Lockdown has severely limited our going out options. In the beginning, it was good to be cocooned in my own little space, cosying up being my own self. There was no need to go out unless necessary. But the enforced solitude meant that when you were desperately craving company, even then you could not meet anyone. You could not visit your elderly parents or grandparents if any. If there was a vulnerable friend, you also could not visit them. Going out for recreation, meeting up with friends, going shopping became very restricted.

Household Chores

The ongoing lockdown has multiplied the chores a lot. Those who have household help, do not have them now. Everyone is staying at home; working from home; studying from home; doing hobbies from home. That means all the cooking, cleaning, washing has been increased and must be done all the time. No eating out or ordering from outside (for most places), no eating from office canteen. Cooking efforts at our two person household has increased by tenfold.

There is limited option to decrease the pressure of the chores. Me and my husband, we divide the chores between us, so that one of us is not burdened too much. Most of my friends are also dividing the chores between the family members. Those with small children, find it a bit challenging. However, most of the people I know, are using this opportunity to teach their children how to be self-sufficient and help out in the house. Dividing the chores is the key to conquer them all.

Isolation/ Mental exhaustion

Most of us are busy with our daily job, and education and other things in life. So even those, who live under the same roof, do not always find time to spend it together. The enforced lockdown has made it easier for these people to come together and spend the time together. Those who live with their grandparents or have them over, this time spent together is quite precious.

On the other hand, for those who are separated right now and isolated, in different cities and countries: this ongoing lockdown is creating isolation and loneliness. My elderly parents, despite having enough to do at house, is gradually finding it difficult to cope. My grandmother, who is over 80, was extremely fit and strong for her age. She travelled halfway around the world to visit me when she was eighty. But the lockdown has taken a toll on her. She belongs to high risk group, so even a short leisurely walk to local market, a quick prayer visit to local Temple, all has been stopped for a while. She has fallen sick and it took her a bit to get well and she has trouble walking right now.

I have been living in Europe for more than a decade now. This distance never meant much to me before as I could always visit home whenever I wish. Right now, the ongoing travel restrictions have suddenly made the distance very real. I do not know when international travel will be safe and I can go visit her.

It is not only the elderly though, living alone is difficult for everyone currently. Video chats can go only so far to make the presence of your loved ones.

Working Space Ideas

Not everyone is lucky to have a dedicated office room at home. Some of us are lucky to have a work corner, some of us are working from the dinner table. Some of us are working from wherever I am finding space today. This probably has been toppling the balance between work and life a lot.

What helps me is to have a dedicated working space, a corner, where I can work and then after I finish work, I do not go to that corner unless needed. There are plenty of way to decorate that corner to make you comfortable. I came up with a post about how to make your home office space a little cosier and more comfortable just a few days back. You can read all about it here: The Home Office Space.

Keeping the Balance

Another way of creating the balance is to indulge in some small hobbies, try to walk or do some sort of exercise as a counterbalance to the cooped-up time.

One of the best hobbies is gardening. Tending to plants, watching them grow and nurturing them is a beautiful way to reconnect with nature and try to find your place in the universe. It is also a healthy way to deal with anxiety and find some time alone, amidst everything.

Some friends I know, who have been talented cooks before, have thrown themselves into experimenting in the kitchen. Others are taking the time to spend as much time with their children and tending to them, another sort of gardening.

Some has opened new business in their field of passion or just to supplement their income. We are all trying to survive and move forward together, in these difficult and trying times.

Do let me know how your lockdown experience has been and what you do to keep yourself positive. I am coming up with a long and elaborate series on the ways to maintain balance while working from home, if you are interested, you can bookmark the series here: Work-Life : Balance and Productivity.


About the author:

Hello, this is Tannistha. I am from India but based in Germany now. I work as project manager in E-Mobility field. The high stress job often tends to spill over in my free time and over the years I have had to develop some boundaries to have a healthy work-life balance. I loved to write growing up, but never took it seriously until recently. I have been blogging for over a year now, mostly about my experiences in having a work-life balance and about my favorite hobby, gardening. Creativity is my passion and provides the much-needed balance in my life.

You can reach me on Instagram: @writingreen

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