Work/life balance

Set your alarm clock to go to sleep…

As a child I learned that an alarm clock was used to wake you up. But it took me a lot longer to realise that an alarm clock was a tool to send you to sleep and sleep more.

By sleeping more, I don’t mean hammering the snooze button every nine minutes to have half an hour longer in bed. With a blurring of home and office (and working from home for the last year and a half), I have found that my “down time” from work has become less, particularly where I have taken time out to pick up children from kindergarten, do some shopping, cook etc. And so this was where the alarm clock came in.

I set alarms for 21:30 and 22:00, which were the soft and hard cut-off points, past which I could not work. And then thirty minutes later (ie 22:30) to indicate time to sleep. Between the soft/hard alarms I would only finish a task I was working on, but not start new tasks.

In addition, I have also set social media apps to be blocked past 22:30, and my phones to go into do not disturb mode. All of these steps have helped me to sleep better, making the being woken up at 05:00 – 06:00 by the twins a little more manageable, even if their alarm to do so is daily, rather than just limited to the working week.


Back to the “normal” Office

After having worked from home for sixteen weeks, last week I was back in my “normal” office, in the room that I have worked in since 2014, since I joined my employer. The difference this time around is that I am only in alternate weeks for the time being, and only sharing the office with one other colleague rather than upto three.

The return to the office, with a maximum 50% occupancy nevertheless helped in terms of “Gesichtsw√§sche” – I felt on occasions during lockdown that it was easy once the situation “normalised” that the prominence I enjoyed sitting with banking supervisors had eroded somewhat, and felt the return to the office was a useful fillip in terms of gently nudging colleagues that I was not out of sight and out of mind.

“While I locked the office door behind me, I still had the office with me as I embarked on my commute.”

The new reality of being back in-house.

There is also a different discipline involved now compared to working in-house before lockdown. For starters, meetings are widely still virtual and I am expected to take my laptop home with me each evening to be able to react accordingly for the eventuality of there being a suddenly enforced lockdown. So while I locked the office door behind me, I still had the office with me as I embarked on my commute.

One important organisational task that becomes a part of the in-house/remote flip is to ensure that when I really leave the office at the end of an “in-house” week, that I have any physical documents that I need – for example, if I am finishing up a publication that I feel the need to actively correct following a read through of a physical copy. Of course this only works for documents that are intended for public consumption, anything with a restricted nature remains exclusively electronic.

Given experiences of substantial downloads in combination with the VPN tunnel, I also make sure that while in the office that I perform any software updates required to avoid issues about VPN tunnel connection speed for downloads. This also allowed me to have a declutter – in March I ended up “leaving in a hurry” so took the opportunity during a software download requiring several restarts to file and shred as appropriate a stack of paper that had been on my desk since prior to lockdown.

Currently I am not carrying reference books between my offices – I have a recent law codex at home, and fortunately the Rechtinformationsservice des Bundes‘ offering keeps me up-to-speed, and during the flurry of Covid-19-Gesetze was essential for downloading or bookmarking applicable primary and secondary legislation. The other staple of my research has been the EUR-LEX as well as the European Union Terminology database IATE.

This week as I celebrate 20 years since arriving in Austria, I also doff my hat to IATE’s predecessor, Eurodictautom, which I used in the early days – before it was sent into a well-earned retirement in 2007.