When the lockdown first came into force in March, I immediately had a number of speaking engagements and meetings cancelled, which meant spending more time at home. This took the pressure off my time, and I was more relaxed and could spend more time on my hobbies, which felt great.
However, after a few weeks it felt as though life online exploded—there were more events available to attend remotely, and more people seemed to be commenting on social media. It felt as though the virtual walls were closing in, and put me off online engagement.
Since then, I think things have balanced out, not least because we all are more used to doing things online. I have found online teaching this term less stressful, simply because of familiarity and finding ways of better online self-management.
For me, keys to remaining healthy have included being absolutely disciplined about Sabbath—Saturday is an almost non-negotiable day off away from work pressures and with family. Walking the dog is an important daily discipline, and I have also been doing more, regular exercise at home, making use of YouTube fitness videos.
For the last few years I have shifted to starting work early (from 6.30 am to 7 am) and it has been important to accept that the working day therefore finishes earlier as well. And I have decided to feel more relaxed as deadlines pass me by!
I have also settled on a habit of not allowing email transactions to be purely business, but also enquired after correspondents, asking how they are doing. And most weeks I also arrange to catch up with someone for ‘Zoom coffee’, in order to make up for the loss of casual conversation at conversations or around meetings.
All in all, this has together created a good sense of work-life balance.
Dr Ian Paul is Associate Lecturer at St Hild College, and former Academic Dean, St John’s College Nottingham. He is also a writer at www.psephizo.com.