Figuring out a routine to tackle both work and a life outside of it is always tough, but having to work from home comes with its own set of challenges.
Even if you had a routine before, chances are it’s been flipped upside down, and you have to start from square one.
Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, faculty at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Canomiks — a startup that uses science to ensure the quality of natural remedies — admits she has yet to find a work/life rhythm during quarantine. As someone who started her MBA when she was four months pregnant, she said it’s just the “story of her life.”
“I have neglected my physical health at times,” Pradhan-Nabzdyk said.
Experiencing a sort of constant burnout, she thinks Zoom calls accelerate the exhaustion. On top of connection issues and extreme focus to a computer screen, she notes that we can see ourselves in business meetings now — and it’s pretty distracting.
“Burnout is something we don’t talk enough about, especially in entrepreneurship,” she said.
Realizing that you can’t have everything, she acknowledged that she was going to be slowing down on work calls in the coming weeks to spend more time with her six-year-old son at home.
“Burnout is something we don’t talk enough about, especially in entrepreneurship.” — Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk
The two have recently gotten into gardening and bird watching at the birdfeeder in their yard — both outdoor ventures they didn’t have access to in their previous home in Boston. Another activity they’ve done together is create a Facebook page for family and friends to share wildlife they’ve encountered, from snakes to koalas.
“It’s been a lot of fun, connecting with nature,” Pradhan-Nabzdyk said. “We lost touch with that.”
As far as time management goes, she said not procrastinating and not micromanaging have gone a long way in saving lots of energy. She also tries to have 30-minute breaks in between every meeting so she can check in with her son and take a short breather.
These mini-breaks can be extremely helpful, Stephanie Wagner, owner of Inner Fire Health and Well-Being Coaching, said. Wagner suggested the Pomodoro Technique: working in sprints of 25 minutes with a five-minute break.
“I recommend the five-minute break to be device-free,” Wagner said. “Really step away, walk around the block, take deep breaths… do something meaningful.”
Then, after four sprints of 25 minutes with five-minute breaks, the method suggests a 30-minute break. This helps keep the work time concentrated and focused, and allows healthy breaks throughout the day.
The Pomodoro Technique has helped many, but it isn’t a catch-all.
Das tends to work all day, come home for dinner, and then go right back to work. That’s the way it’s been since back in his academic days.
“It’s definitely not a job where you work nine to five and then forget about it,” he said.
For Das, there haven’t been many changes now that he works full-time for a startup, and since he’s primarily in a lab, he can get his steps in and avoid sitting for long periods of time to stay physically healthy.
One thing he has had to adapt to, though, is working from home. UEL is now open to companies who rent lab space there, but for a while he was working amidst kids, changing his schedule.
“It’s definitely not a job where you work nine to five and then forget about it.” — Siba Das
Instead of taking smaller breaks throughout the day, Das tends to work until a project is finished, and then take a full day or two off.
“After that [one thing] is done, I just take a day off and don’t think about it,” he said.
Everyone works differently, and needs to find their own sense of balance, especially in a time of change. We can’t compare the work we’re doing now to what we did before, Wagner explained.
“[We] need to have some compassion for ourselves and give ourselves a bit of a break,” she said.
Interested in hearing more about health lifestyles from Minnesota entrepreneurs? Check out some other entries in our Work Well series!