Working from home has many benefits, such as flexible hours, greater happiness, reduced stress, work satisfaction, and increased productivity. In order to reap the benefits of this lifestyle, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Sometimes, when people work from home, they find it difficult to separate their personal lives from work because they live and work in the same space. There are a few simple things you can do to help maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Even though you can work from the comfort of your couch, if you wanted to, it is still important to get yourself into a work mindset. Don’t stay in your pajamas all day long. Instead, you should get into comfortable but presentable clothes. Especially if you are going to be on any conference calls or video chats.
Go through your morning routine
When you are working from home, your commute is the delightfully short jaunt from bed to desk. It is easy to roll out of bed and go straight into work mode. There is a natural buffer created by your commute when you drive into the office. Now you don’t have that time to get into a work headspace.
Try to give yourself a buffer between waking up and working by going through your normal morning routine. Make some coffee and take a minute to enjoy drinking it before you even open your laptop. Consider getting outside for a walk, head to the gym, or take a short trip to get breakfast. The extra movement and change of scenery is a great way to separate your work life from your home life. Plus, with all the time you are saving by not commuting, you won’t have to get up any earlier to do these things.
Create a separate workspace
Create a space in your house that is dedicated solely to work. This can be a spare bedroom that you turn into an office. If you have space in your house to do that, go for it! If not, you can find alternatives by dedicating a specific area to be your workstation. Consider setting up a desk in the corner of your living room, dining room, or wherever you have space. Don’t use that desk for anything except work.
You should have a separate space for your home computer that you use for internet surfing or gaming. Don’t mix the two spaces. This way, you know that as soon as you sit down at your work desk, you are “in the office” and ready to work.
A normal 9-5 job gives you a couple of breaks and lunch. Don’t forget to take this time for yourself. Make a point of stepping away from your workspace and do whatever you would normally do on a break. Get out and take a walk, call a friend, or both.
When you are home all day, it is so easy to sit down in the morning and plow through your work without stopping. There are none of the distractions that come with office life, like coworkers stopping by for a quick chat or to share funny videos.
It isn’t healthy to be alone all day long, especially if you are forgetting to move around. Doing something that takes you away from your workspace for a short while is a great way to give your brain a break. It is even better if you can squeeze some human interaction into that break.
Give yourself dedicated work hours
Decide what hours you want to work and stick to it. This doesn’t have to be the standard 9-5 schedule. Choose what is going to work with your lifestyle.
Some people are night owls and prefer to work late into the night. If that is what works best for you and your body, you should maximize that. Just be careful to stick to your work schedule, and don’t be tempted to keep working “just one more hour.” If you are a morning person, focus on that.
You can work a split shift where you spend a few hours in the morning working, have a chunk of time to yourself in the middle of the day, and return to work in the evening. It doesn’t matter what hours you work as long as you stick to the schedule you set for yourself.
Don’t check your email at 9 o’clock at night and hop on for “just a quick minute.” Next thing you know, two hours will have passed, and you are elbow deep in work. Save that for tomorrow when you have designated work time.
Once your workday is over, leave your workspace
It is the end of the workday and time to go home. Normally you would hop in your car and leave the office behind you. When you are working from home, there isn’t that level of separation, and it is easy to just roll into your off-work hours by still hanging out at your work desk.
Get up and physically leave your workspace. This is your version of leaving the office. It means that your workspace is a dedicated “work only” zone.
This has a couple of benefits:
- Whenever you do sit down in your workspace, you automatically shift into a work mindset. Your workspace is for work. You want it to feel like going into the office and being in work mode.
- When you physically leave your workspace, it means you are off the clock. You can focus on your home life without the distractions of work.
If you live with family members, a spouse, or kids that are going to be around during your work hours, make sure to have a serious conversation with them. During your work hours, interruptions should remain at a minimum.
It is hard to be productive when you are pulled away to break up two screaming kids or walk your mother-in-law through how to video chat. Unless it is an emergency, all of these things can wait until after work like they would if you had to go into the office.
Your workspace should be in a quiet area that is out of the way. Don’t stream old episodes of Friends on the TV while you work or try to juggle multitasking household chores while you work. If you are trying to prep dinner for later, you aren’t maintaining that healthy work life balance. Your everyday life is creeping into your work life, and it is important to keep those separate.
It is possible to maintain a healthy work-life balance even when you are working from home. With a few conscious decisions and a little dedication, you can keep your home life separate from your work life. Working from home is a great experience for many people who find that it helps increase their productivity, happiness, and job satisfaction.