How to Create Work/Life Balance While Working From Home
Once you’ve begun to work from home and get into the groove of daily life, it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of overworking. You may start to feel drained, or see other aspects of your life slipping through the cracks. You want to make money, but may feel as if you have to work extra hard to “prove yourself” to your clients or to make sure the income stays steady. However, all work and no play is a sure path to burnout. We asked the experts what they have learned over the years about finding this work/life balance.
1) Plan properly. In order to effectively create a work-life balance, you need to plan out your time properly. For example, every night plan out what you are doing for the next day. Break it down by productive, supportive, and unproductive time. By making a schedule and sticking to it you are able to maintain the balance you desire.
2) Create a work environment that stops distractions. If you work from home you need to ensure you have a place to work away from distractions. Keep the television out of your office, keep the pets out, anything you can do to minimize distractions. Even if these distractions only last 5 minutes at a time if this happens 10 times a day you are still wasting 50 minutes that you could have used to focus on work. As a result of running behind you cut into your work life balance.
3) Allow yourself to have family time and not feel guilty about it. When we get busy or start falling behind on a project we often tend to bury ourselves deeper in our work to try and make up time and produce results. This, in turn, causes us to cut out the family time or when we do have time for our family we feel guilty because we think we should be working. By planning for and taking time for the family or yourself you will ensure you come back recharged and as a result will be more productive.
Here are a few things I’ve figured out over the years.
1) Schedule it! If I want to watch a show with my family, go get a pedicure, or just decompress for a half-day – I schedule it and put it on my calendar, just like any business meeting. That time is NOT available for other things like client meetings, research time, etc.
2) Work time is work time. It’s a constant task to help my family understand that I’m working all day, just like they are in school or my husband is working. I get a lot of requests to wash this, make these muffins for class, run errands, research a new tv, etc. I remind them often that if I do that now, I wont be able to spend time with family later when they’re home, because I have to get my work hours in as well.
3) Take vacations. Even if it’s a long weekend camping – getting out of your house and away from your office either by yourself or with your family is important decompression time. If you work on a computer all day like I do, take along NO electronics, turn off your phone and put it in the glove box. Read a real book printed on real paper for a change!
4) Say no. It’s okay to establish those boundaries with your co-workers, clients, vendors, etc. My clients and vendors know I’m pretty unlikely to answer a phone call after 5pm. I might answer an email, but more than likely they’ll get a response when I log in the next day. Saying I can’t do that right now. is a pretty powerful tool in your work at home
1) Make a distinction between important and urgent. Prioritize important every time.
2) Avoid multi tasking. Be as present as possible for important activities for a dedicated time. Multi tasking often results in shortcomings – and sometimes failure – in equal measure across multiple initiatives.
1) Set work hours and stick to them. Putting a structure around your work day – when it begins and ends – helps you to stay more productive and keeps work time from bleeding into the rest of your life. When your work day is over, stop working and leave your work space.
2) Take breaks during the day. It’s important to take breaks throughout your work day to give your brain a rest from work. Taking short breaks every couple hours helps with productivity and maintaining your energy so that you can get your work done. And don’t forget to take a lunch break!
3) Get out of the house. When you work from home it’s easy to end up feeling isolated because you don’t have the same social connections you would if you worked outside the home. So its important to make an effort to get out of the house on a regular basis – to meet friends for lunch or take a walk outside so you don’t feel cooped up.
1) Build downtime into your schedule. When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge. This is critical for work-at-home pros since you never get away from work.
2) Exercise and meditate – Use time you would commute to exercise and meditate. One of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state..
3) Minimize distractions, so you can complete your work tasks in the least amount of time and get on with the rest of your life. I choose to live light, in a tiny living-style cottage, so I have more time for the things I love and less house work.
1) Time Concentration – plan activities that concentrate disparate areas of life balance together. E.g. for exercise, I do karate with my kids. Through karate, I am able to pull in the following life areas: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Family, Friends, and even Business networking. All concentrated in a few hours a week.
2) Habit stacking – building off of other positive habits to improve life and use it to enhance life balance. E.g. I added setting out exercise clothes, taking my nightly vitamins, and getting a glass of water for my wife’s bedside table to my nightly teeth brushing routine. Therefore enhancing Physical and Family life balance areas
Note from Leslie
The experts this week have fabulous tips. It important to not underestimate the damage overwork can do. It can make you feel more stressed and begin to dislike your work-at-home career. These feelings can lead to an inability to problem solve and make good decisions.
I agree with the tips shared here including:
- Setting time boundaries between work and no work. When my kids lived at home, I strived to be done with work when the bus pulled up. During the summer, I’d work until noon or 1 pm and then we’d all do something together.
- Have a schedule and routine and stick to it.
- Plan your day, including things you have appointments for as well as the to-dos and projects you need to get to. Tick it off when you get things done so you have a sense of progress. When you feel like you’ve accomplished something, it’s easier to close up shop when the time comes.
- Take breaks. For a long time I had a Fitbit and now I have a smartwatch that buzzes every so often to remind me to get up.
- Remember why you wanted to work at home. For most people, working at home isn’t the goal. It’s the means to a goal. I wanted to be home with my kids. Someone else might want to travel. Whatever your “why” for working at home, remember it and honor it. I worked at home to be with my kids, so it would have been contrary to my goal if I didn’t sometimes stop working to be with my kids.
Do you have a work/life balance tip? Let us know in the comments below.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Don’t let work take over your home based career. Work at home experts share their tips on how to balance work and life while working at home. #workathome #worklifebalance” quote=”Don’t let work take over your home based career. Work at home experts share their tips on how to balance work and life while working at home. #workathome #worklifebalance”]