Self-Quarantine Is Crushing Work-Life Balance

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Heads, you lose; tails, I win. That's the definition of a raw deal, and we can usually spot it a mile away. Somehow, though, as COVID-19 keeps more and more of us working from home, a raw deal is exactly what so many of us are getting.

Bloomberg reports that rather than saving us commuting time and decreasing our overall stress, as some studies have found, working from home during this pandemic has expanded our working hours, with no commensurate change in pay. "In the U.S., homebound employees are logging three hours more per day on the job than before city and state-wide lockdowns," Bloomberg writes. That's the most of any nation, according to a business VPN service which tracks connection and disconnect times from customers around the world.

That's bad news for individual employees and for businesses as a whole. Both your performance and your health tend to suffer if it becomes a regular practice. As one researcher who looked into four-day work weeks wrote, "Most of the studies I have performed suggest that the dangers are most pronounced when people regularly work more than 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week."

Freelancers can tell you that one key to setting good boundaries is to begin with yourself. Take breaks when you need them, including standing up, drinking water, and moving your body — especially if you can integrate exposure to nature somehow. Working from home isn't as simple as replicating your office routine on your couch, but if you can communicate your bright lines clearly, your work and your stress levels will thank you.