If you’re like many readers, you’re juggling a lot. In a number of instances, we’re managing without the bookends to our days – the commute, stop at a coffee shop and so on – that mark transitions between our personal lives and our careers.
Whether you’re working from home, in the office, or sorting out a hybrid combination of the two, it can sometimes be challenging to prioritise personal time.
My experience with hybrid working situations extends all the way back to 2006. I’d completed a year-long secondment working with our organisation’s CEO, filling in while my colleague – EA to the CEO – was on maternity leave. As her return date approached, the CEO asked me to stay on longer and take on some projects. This was another welcomed opportunity, with a wee glitch: there was no space in the office for this role. The solution? I worked from home, and popped in to the office for meetings. That part was a breeze, as the office was a mere seven minute drive from home.
Balance and boundaries
We hear a lot about work-life balance. Whether or not it’s consistently attainable, I prefer to think of this as life-work balance, as a reminder to prioritise the first.
While working at home, I found myself taking advantage of early starts to the work day. I’d take a break once our two were up and preparing to make their way out the door for school, and then resume work. One particular project involved a significant amount of research and writing, so there was flexibility. At some point most mornings, I took my laptop out to the patio, enjoying the scents of our garden while thinking and writing.
This approach meant I was able to wrap up a given work day by 2:00 p.m. or so. I was free to garden, go for a walk or do anything else I chose. More than once, though, I found myself so engaged in the task at hand that I continued writing or working on other project priorities. Sound familiar?
While many readers made sudden transitions to remote work environments as the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, I began working remotely – with exceptions – a year earlier. Those exceptions typically take the form of travelling to deliver training at conferences and onsite for employee groups. As well, I began writing for more clients, including a major corporation based in New York City.
It remains all too easy to work beyond typical hours, especially when you love what you do. With our two now grown and established in their own homes, it’s not as though there’s the pull to have a look at a homework assignment or head off with them to a game or practice of one sort or another. I can imagine, for those of you with kidlets at home, how torn between multiple demands you may have felt at times – or consistently – while working remotely during this pandemic!
This had me thinking back to my early (pre-pandemic) Weekend Poll on establishing and maintaining boundaries, and your responses. Last year marked the fourth consecutive year I’d posed such questions, and – once I publish the results of my latest poll – I think it would be timely to again pose those questions.
Have you ever had one of those days?
Some days are golden. Yesterday, the first day of June 2021, was just that. I’m emerging from a month full of commitments, with a heavy and productive workload. June will also be full, yet I’m taking a bit of time to breathe and reflect.
I woke up looking forward to delivering one of my minutes-related courses, and also to taking the afternoon off. Yes, I had ( and have) lots to do, yet it’s important to carve out personal time. I checked the tide charts, which clinched things: I’d make it a beach afternoon! I love heading to the waters when the tide is out, and walking along the inlet floor.
What made the day golden? We had a good group for the morning webinar. The sun was shining and we reached temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius/80 Fahrenheit. Shortly after arriving at the beach, I saw two eagles … and I consider every day I see a single eagle a bonus day.
Then, something I’d not seen before at Spanish Banks: beautiful horses and their people galloping through the waters.
This trio and their people rode in from Mission – about 82 kilometers/50 miles away.
The three friends, who graciously allowed me to photograph them and their gorgeous horses, said this outing was on their respective bucket lists.
Next, I took a dip in the waters. I’d been walking in the waters for half an hour, yet the initial chill that comes with full immersion makes you know you’re alive! Then, over the course of the next couple of hours, while still out in the waters, I saw four more eagles … or the same two eagles three times over!
When the weather’s good, our routines include biking to and from another local beach after dinner some weeknights. I was looking forward to last night’s ride, yet my husband noticed my (old!) bike was in need of maintenance. As a result, I switched gears and instead went for a walk.
Would I have preferred the bike ride? Yes. Did I enjoy my walk? Yes. I also stopped to smell and admire flowers along the way. It serves us well when we’re able to adapt to roadblocks or changes to plans that are beyond control.
On the heels of taking time off yesterday, I’d planned an early rise and a morning of almost non-stop writing and following up with clients today. That changed when I heard from good friend Paula Moio, who is one accomplished, impressive and busy person. I’ve interviewed Paula here on Exceptional EA, we’ve visited in London, England when I’ve crossed the pond, and you can click here to see just one of Paula’s initiatives.
What began with some voice messages early this morning wound up taking the form of a 90+ minute video chat. Will I need to do some juggling as a result of this unplanned yet terrific conversation? Yes. Is that an issue? Not at all!
No day or life is perfect, yet yesterday was sweet and the conversation with Paula this morning was an unexpected bonus in the start to another wonderful day. It’s my view that our attitude – especially during trying times – significantly impacts our outcomes.
You’ll find below a couple of videos that reflect that golden day I enjoyed yesterday, with horses splashing through the waters, and one of an eagle sighting from a couple of weeks ago.
What are you grateful for? What’s working for you in these pandemic times?
In lieu of those bookends that mark transitions between our personal and business lives, how do you maintain boundaries – and do you have some favourite spots in your community when it’s time to take a break from work?
What do you do, and where do you head, to exercise, reflect, rejuvenate and think? In addition to beaches, I love exploring plant life. Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Garden is one of my consistent go to spots, typically meeting my best friend from our school days for lunch and a stroll.
All six eagles I saw yesterday were in the air. I did catch a video of one of them, yet thought I’d share this one from a couple of weeks ago. I was thrilled with the proximity this bird allowed me.