I am sure that by now you have already realized that I love working from home – I have talked again and again about the multiple perks of my current working environment. No commute, freshly cooked lunch, increased flexibility, ability to multitask, etc. are just a few of the advantages that come with working from home. However, no matter how much I love doing that, even I have to admit that sometimes it can really be difficult to draw a clear line between my work tasks and personal/home to-do list.
We recently had this conversation with my team mates from work and it was really eye-opening to see how many of them are still struggling with work-life balance when working from home. And to be perfectly honest, I have also found it a bit challenging at the beginning – it can be very easy to fall into bad habits that will leave you feeling like no longer have a home life. But with some practice and drawing some boundaries working from home can become the exciting and relaxing experience that we all strive for.
So today I wanted to share my practical strategies that I have implemented to maintain a healthy work-life balance for the past year and a half. I hope you will find those helpful as well if you are struggling to draw the line between those two.
Set boundaries with your work hours
Let’s start with the most important one – setting clear boundaries with your work hours so that you can know for sure when you are supposed to start working and when you need to stop. The increased flexibility that comes with working from home can often lead to working more hours than you are supposed to. Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking “let’s check my emails real quick” just to end up in an additional three-hour work spree that you were not supposed to do?
I know that I have so it was apparent for me from the very beginning that I need to set my work hours straight. No matter if you have set hours by your employer, or if you dictate your own hours, it’s good practice to decide what hours you are going to work, keep track of the time and stick to the schedule. It will always be tempting to want to continue ploughing through your to-do list, especially if you are on a roll or in the middle of a more complex task. But I can guarantee you, that this will quickly become very counterproductive. Setting boundaries with your work hours means that you can be productive when you need to be, without feeling guilty about switching off and enjoy your life once you are done.
Separate your workplace from your living space
I have already talked about the importance of separating your workplace from your living space (check my working from home experience in this post that I published almost a year ago). I can understand, though, that it can be difficult sometimes to set up a home office entirely separated from the rest of your home but the truth is that you actually don’t need a whole new room for this reason. You can either put a desk somewhere in the living room, like I did last year, or put strategies in place to separate work from home. All you need to do to achieve this, is ensure that at the end of each workday, you tidy and pack away your work equipment and materials.
So for example, if you work from your dining room or kitchen table, remove your work items at the end of the day so the space is cleared. If you work from your lounge, or bed, as soon as you have finished work, pack your laptop and papers away so they are out of sight. The key is to create physical separation so you can create mental separation as well and ensure a healthy balance between your work and home lives.
Remove distractions to avoid temptation
I know that distractions can be very tempting when working from home – you might be thinking that quickly checking your Instagram can take just a few minutes, but this can lead to mindless scrolling for hours, if you are not careful enough. Removing distractions works both ways. You want to ensure you remove any non work-related distractions and temptations when you are supposed to be working. But, by the same token, you also want to make sure you remove any temptations to work when you are clocked off.
Start by turning off your notifications on your phone – all social media notifications are turned off while I work, whereas all email notifications are off when I don’t work. Also, you can strategically set yourself up somewhere in the house where you won’t be bothered by others. I understand that this can be tricky if your family members spend more time at home as well but try to have a few super productive hours away from them, if you can. You might also want to refrain from scheduling any other commitments during work hours – going to the bank or meeting your friend might be tempting during the day but limit those commitments, if you can. And lastly, if you use a work phone and you are not required to be on a call after your EOB, turn it off. Any non-urgent work can wait until tomorrow.
Get out of the house at least once a day
I have made a consistent effort to incorporate more physical activities during the day since I started working from home, and getting out of the house at least once a day has always been a top priority, no matter the weather. Staying in the house all the time might sound nice but actually it is not very good for your productivity, or your sanity.
It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time, you could simply go for a short walk, go to the gym, or pop to the shops and do your weekly groceries shopping. Changing up the environment works wonders for stimulating new ideas and allowing you to return to work more refreshed and more productive. Plus, you will do some of your daily steps.
Do you have any tips for setting up a clearer line between work and personal life when working from home? Let me know in the comments below.