How not to blur your work/life balance when you’re working from home
-Mar 16, Hannah Hargrave, Living -
Working from home can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse, especially if you’re not used to it. But there are ways to balance your work and your life when your office is your home to ensure the lines don’t get blurred.
Whatever your reasons for working from home, whether it’s improved technology or an exceptional global pandemic such as the Coronavirus, when you’re seated behind a desk in your sitting room, it’s hard to get the balance right.
Procrastination can kick in big time when you can see the pile of washing out the corner of your eye or you don’t have the big boss watching over you.
On the flip side you may find it impossible to clock off meaning you work constantly and your family and your stress levels pay the price.
So, if your new commute takes you from the bedroom to the study, rather than a 30 minute train journey from home to the city, here’s how to make it a success.
Set yourself hours
Just as you would in an office, set a time you start your day and a time you finish. While there will always be a little more flexibility given you’re working from home, you need to have that structure so that you still have work routine in your life.
Give yourself a lunch break and stick to the hours you would normally work if you were in an office. Let the people you work with know these hours too so that they know when you’re shutting down and are less accessible.
Remember that just because you’re contactable 24/7 you’re not expected to work around the clock. Don’t read emails out of hours, no matter how tempting.
It’s tempting to slouch around in your pajamas when you work from home, especially if nobody is going to see you. But getting ready for work is really important. You don’t have to dress up in a suit, but getting dressed in clothes you would happily wear outside of the house should be a must. The way you look changes the way you feel. If you look scruffy and slobbish, your work may reflect this.
Have an office
Even though a lot of work can be done on a laptop and phone, which you can pretty much tap away or talk on wherever you are, establishing a specific work space is important.
Find an area with minimal distractions and set up shop there. Make it your work space, rather than moving from the kitchen, to the sofa, to the bedroom. Once the day is over, close the door on your home office and focus on something other than work.
Write a list
At the start of your day write down a work list (A) and a life list (B). During working hours you stick to your A-list and gradually tick things off until you clock off and you can hit the B-list.
While it’s tempting to quickly do a household chore when you should be prepping for a conference call, or alternatively, get a quick bit of work done rather than reading with the kids, if you stick to your lists for the most part, things will run much smoother.
Go for a walk
Fresh air and a little bit of exercise does wonders for the brain, the body and productivity. When in the office you may feel too guilty – although you shouldn’t – to step outside during your lunch break for brisk walk, if you’re at home add it to your list and make it happen. You’ll likely find you get much more done when you come back to your desk, even if you only stepped outside for five-minutes of fresh air.
It’s all very well YOU knowing what time you need to start work, what you need to get done and what time you’re clocking off, but your family and friends may not realise this. If they can see you, they often assume you’re open for a chat.
It’s important to make your loved ones – even small children – understand that you cannot drop everything, whenever you want to meet for lunch, go to the park or hit the sales.
Make it very clear that you have a routine and you have to stick to it. Once they understand the pattern they’ll start respecting it more.
When your home is your office it’s almost impossible to switch off and see it as a place to relax too. But you need down time as well. Schedule movie nights on the sofa with your family, date nights at the kitchen table, a relaxing bath or whatever you enjoy doing from the comfort of your own home and ensure you take those moments and cherish them.