Achieving Work-Life Balance as an Expat with a New Baby and Theatre Company in Hong Kong
I work from home, I love my job and I just had a baby. Here are 6 tips to balance work and life.
Hi everyone! My name is Kristina and I am the founder and creative director of KrisP Production. For new friends in the community, I have been acting since I was 12 years old, decided to found KrisP Production in 2017, have written and produced 7 shows since then, have given many acting workshops in Hong Kong and Russia, taken part in the international Camden Fringe festival, enabled many creatives with collaborations, and earlier this year, I was blessed with my firstborn. So yes, I love my job, I work from home and really just had a baby.
Many of us were thrown into the work from home situation because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and until horizons start to clear, our future situations remain uncertain. I often wonder: Will things ever get back to normal? Will I ever be able to perform again on an actual stage in front of a live audience? Or will we forever be stuck in the digital space? We really don’t know as of now. Either way the winds blow, working from home is becoming an increasingly accepted notion.
However, with new situations arise new pain points that need to be assessed. As someone who has been working from home her entire career, I understand what you’re going through. The lines are so blurred between being a functioning family member and a professional service provider.
Some days the house just seems in total chaos and you aren’t happy with the work that you put in that day and so you try to catch up with a work sprint that ends up tiring you out so much you lose motivation to do any work for a few days, which leads to a backlog and then you realize how you didn’t put in the effort you could have and you feel unhappy about it. Repeat cycle, sprinkle generously with family chaos.
On the other end of the spectrum, some days you have so much energy and so many things to do that you completely dive into it, forgetting taking any break in weeks and missing most of your lunches. Then you catch a heated look from your loved ones and you understand that you completely lost track of time because the notion of time is very different when you work from home.
Well, here’s some good news—there’s a way out of it. Your work-life balance is very achievable and today, I am giving you some of my very own learnings, so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
RE-ALIGN YOUR MINDSET
First and foremost is re-aligning your mindset. It is important to stop thinking about yourself as having to choose between family and work. To choose is to 'pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.' Doesn't sound very right, does it? There must be a way for those to co-exist in importance? Good news is, there is a way, and it is as simple as looking at it as an allocation of attention.
Work fulfills you, and so does family. They're on the same spectrum of importance. No one is better than the other, you are just choosing to allocate a certain amount of attention to either one for a certain amount of time per day.
They don't even have to be large blocks of time for each, you can allocate one hour for lunch with the family, or choose to do light work for an hour while you're pumping milk.
HAVE A MORNING RITUAL
Second tip is to set some time aside everyday to prepare yourself for the day ahead. A morning ritual, if you will. This could come in any form that suits you. Your ritual could be a 5-minute gratitude meditation, a short work-out session, or an entire hour of activities that also comprise 30 minutes of free-writing in your morning pages, and then 25 minutes of coffee with a book. Tailor it to your preferences!
Thirdly, I'd highly recommend you set some environmental boundaries between work and life. Like not bringing work to the bedroom or your child's playpen. When you're in the bedroom, your attention has to be on your spouse, likewise in your child's playpen, your attention has to be on your child.
These boundaries allow you to be in the present and to fully commit to the different aspects of your life that you have deemed important. This mental break from work greatly helps your productivity and focus.
GO OUTSIDE, EVERYDAY
The fourth tip might sound simple but you'd be surprised how many people often forget this—make an effort to go outside, even for five minutes. Trust me, it will do a lot of good for your mind, body and soul. You can even kill two birds with one stone by allocating a 30-minute work break in the afternoon for time at the park with your family!
Tip 5, be flexible. Flexibility in managing your own time is one of the perks of working from home. Remember that. If a small home issue needs urgent attention, breathe, be transparent with whoever you are working with about the situation at hand, tend to that issue, and come back to your work knowing that it was just a matter of attention reallocation. It's all a wonderful part and parcel of life!
So, the next time you need an extra 10 minutes before a Zoom meeting to change your baby's diaper and calm him down, ask for it! We are all humans here, and we all know the importance of family.
REMEMBER TO REST
Lastly, don’t forget to rest. Working from home washes off the notion of clocking in and clocking out of work. With lack of structure, you can end up working with no breaks and sometimes no days off. It certainly often happens to me being a freelancer. You don’t want to burn out and definitely don’t want to make your family members feel left behind. Set aside at least one day off. You don't do any work that day, no matter what happens.
With that, I conclude the 6 tips I have for you in maintaining a work-life balance, especially if you're like me and you love your work! I hope this has been helpful and that you find my tips as easy to start applying as I did. Motherhood has been a wonderful journey for me thus far, I have a lot yet to learn and I look forward to sharing them with you.
In the meantime, I’d really love to hear about how you have been progressing in finding that balance between work and life, especially if you work from home! Let me know how you’re doing in the comments or drop me a DM on instagram @krisp.production, anytime! <3
Lots of Love,