Work-life balance describes how workers share their time between personal and professional obligations. Someone who has achieved this can allocate time to the different aspects of their life. They create quality time for their family, social activities, and hobbies.
Working remotely has many perks, some of which include the freedom to choose when and where to work. Remote workers take advantage of this flexibility to travel and also work from home. But, too much freedom can be quite dangerous. Without the right planning and balancing, it can chew you up and spit you out! Many work-from-home employees face the challenge of separating their personal and professional lives. Without fixed work hours and knowing when to stop for the day, we can get caught in an endless work loop.
When I first started working remotely, I found myself trapped in a time loop. I seemed to have lost the concept of day and night. I would sleep late because of work, wake up tired, and then spend the rest of the day trying to catch up with new tasks. I often felt dizzy because I usually forgot to eat.
It was a nightmare! I couldn’t even spend time with my friends anymore. My favourite new lines became “I’m sorry, I have work to do” and “I’m busy, I can’t make it.” This wasn’t the flexibility I envisioned for myself. So, I decided it was time to make a change and I did! Today, I get better rest, enjoy quality time with friends, and I even get more work done. Yesterday is in the rear-view mirror and I’m never going back!
I’ll be sharing some tips with you on how I was been able to achieve this change and how I’ve been able to maintain it.
Why Work-Life Balance is Important
Research shows that stress is one of the many outcomes of having a poor work-life balance. It has a negative impact on health. This can make an individual less productive, less happy, and less in control. In contrast, individuals with good work-life balance are happier. They’re also more in control and less stressed. Happiness leads to more productivity at work, and this leads to more happiness. It’s a self-feeding loop!
Remote workers say flexibility and increased work-life balance are among the benefits of working from home. It gives them the freedom to structure their day to a more convenient schedule. A well-structured workday means more free time to spend away from your job.
How to Create a Balance between Work and Life
Creating a work-life balance when you work from home is all about prioritization. To accomplish all the tasks on your to-do list, you need adequate time management and planning. Adequate scheduling is important as well. Besides, you also need the right productivity tools to help you along.
How to Maintain Work-Life Balance When Working Remotely
1. Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Working from home can make you feel like you have to be available at all hours of the day. If you subscribe to this idea, you’re at risk of experiencing work burnout. Flexibility doesn’t mean availability. You need to understand the difference. Even with flexible hours, you still need to create a work schedule. This will help you know when to unplug from work and enjoy some personal time. Working from home doesn’t mean you should be available for work all day long.
Time management for remote workers can be a dicey affair. By setting a schedule and sticking to it, your team members will know when not to reach you. This is especially important if you’re working in a different time zone. Having an off-work period during which you don’t respond to work emails will give you a sense of balance. It allows you to enjoy personal activities.
To achieve this, you should wake up and go to bed at the same hours every day. No matter what you do, don’t eat into personal time. Stick to it and it’ll get easier.
2. Use Communication Tools to Show Your Online and Offline Hours
You’ve decided on a schedule that you’re comfortable with. It’s now time to make it public. There are different tools you can use to publicize your availability. They help your team (especially those in different time zones) to know when you’re off work.
There are plenty of productivity tools that will give you the option to set your availability hours. By using the proper app, you can set certain hours of the day when you don’t want to receive notifications. There are also tools that prevent you from accepting tasks or events outside work hours. The key is to choose the right application that will suit your workload and needs. By making your working hours public, your co-workers will be mindful of your “personal time”.
3. Take Advantage of Breaks to Run Personal Errands
While working from home is great, the solitude can get monotonous. Spending most of your time at home means you don’t get to enjoy the pleasure of random conversations at the office. This can be mind-numbing and it may leave you feeling like time is standing still.
Take advantage of your newfound flexibility and use it to run personal errands, especially when you feel like taking a break from work. That way, you’re still being productive even though you’re taking a few minutes away from the job. Use this break period to run errands that you normally can’t do if you were working in an office. Aside from that, take the opportunity to cook, relax, or do some exercises.
Taking regular micro-breaks is an important part of boosting productivity. We usually ignore this crucial fact. Dr. Lisa Belanger, a Ph.D. scholar at the University of Calgary, agrees with this. She once commented,
“I know it’s not rocket science, but breaks are good. We know that but we don’t prioritize them.”
Make regular breaks a priority and use the time to be productive. Take a little stroll and get some sunlight (it provides you with Vitamin D). The fresh air and sunlight reduce your risk of developing health-related complications.
4. Make Plans for After-Work Hours
For many remote workers, their workspace and living space is in the same room. This makes it difficult to have a true sense of leaving work at the end of the day. Even if you’ve closed your laptop, you might still find yourself thinking about work. Making plans for after-work hours is a good way to combat this effect.
If you make plans for after-work hours, you’ll be compelled to switch off your work-brain and enjoy yourself. It can be as simple as making plans to see a movie. This is something you can do with your friends and family without leaving the house. Enjoy a couple of drinks together or do some workout sessions.
5. Prepare for Work as If You’re Headed to the Office
When you’re working from home, you can take your time to wake up, shower, and have breakfast. You don’t feel the need to rush. But keep in mind, this can make you start your tasks later than you should. It can even reduce your productivity.
Preparing to go to the office is a different ball game. You wake up early and hurry to perform your morning rituals. Then, you rush to the office and begin work without a second’s delay.
You can use this office behaviour even when working from home. It allows you to feel focused and mentally prepared. You become a warrior waking up with a purpose to conquer! Don’t snooze the alarm for an extra hour of sleep just because you’re telecommuting. Instead, you should wake up, rush, and get things done! You’ll have more time to sleep later in the day if you start your work early.
6. Create a Workspace Distinct from the Rest of Your Home
It’s all about hacks! You can make yourself more productive if you understand how the human mind works. Creating a work area that is distinct from the rest of the house gives you a sense of seriousness. Whenever you sit down at your work desk, you should be ready to get your tasks done. Dedicate a room for work. Let this be your office away from the office!
However, if you’re living in a small apartment, you can employ a personal trick that I use. Choose a clean space for your work desk and mark the floor around it with chalk, paint, or tape. This creates a mental separation for you. Whenever you step into this marked out area, forget every other thing and focus on work. When you want to take a break, step out of it and forget about work until you step back in.
Remember, when you sit at your work desk, respect your schedule and focus on work. Avoid eating, looking at your Instagram feed, or getting up to sit on the couch while working. Only get up when you’re taking a micro-break or when it’s time for your personal hours.