A balance between work and leisure is crucial if we want to have a good quality of life. However, working from home can result in it being extremely difficult to achieve a beneficial balance. This is simply due to the fact that the interference goes both ways: personal concerns tend to intrude during work hours when your office is also your home, and you may find your professional to-do list bleeding over into your free time without the physical territory of the workplace to keep them distinct and apart.
That doesn’t mean that working from home is destined to be a disaster, though. Far from it! All that’s required is some self-discipline and a more conscious approach to our daily routine. Here are ten practical suggestions to improve your work-life balance while working remotely.
1. Set Up Your Office Space
If you’re still working from the bed or the sofa, it’s definitely time to change that. Finding your own designated workplace in your house, no matter how small or multi-purpose it may be, can make a huge difference to your mindset. How? Well, you’ll feel that you’re actually “going to work” even if you’re only going to the kitchen table.
You should also try to make your office as suitable for work as possible. This may mean investing in an ergonomic office chair or perhaps better lighting solutions. Plants and pillows may also help make your workplace a more pleasant, comfortable space to be in.
2. Take Your Time Off
During the pandemic, many employees didn’t see any point in taking annual leave seeing as they were going to be stuck at home either way. However, time off from work is a vital ingredient when it comes to work-life balance. This applies on a day-to-day basis too.
Remember, you’re not supposed to spend endless hours at your desk without a break. Ensure you’re taking regular time for yourself. Have your mid-morning coffee break and your lunch hour just as you would at the office. It doesn’t count if you eat at the computer!
3. Connect with Colleagues
Working from home shouldn’t mean working in isolation. Why not connect with a colleague and share a virtual coffee break? You can even co-work virtually by video streaming with one another during work hours. It’s a great way to replicate office interactions for those who really miss that environment.
In your local area, there may be physical co-working spaces that you can pay to use. This is a super solution for people whose houses are too busy or noisy for full concentration. They also offer the opportunity to meet and network with other professionals.
4. Work Beyond The Home
For meetings where video participation isn’t required, you could always participate while taking a stroll in the park. The technology is available to make these things possible, so there’s no need to restrict ourselves to outdated visions of what work should look like. There’s also plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that nature has a positive impact on our productivity.
Don’t feel like you have to be chained to your desk to work effectively! Changing the scenery can be very creatively stimulating, even if all you’re doing is taking your laptop to the nearest coffee shop.
5. Control Your Cellphone
Cellphones are amazing; they allow us to carry so much information with us, including all of our work. That’s why it’s important to use them with care. If you can, it’s better to have one cellphone for professional purposes and another for your personal life.
Why? Because that empowers you to physically switch off your cellphone and mentally switch off from work. It stops people from contacting you outside of work hours with non-urgent issues.
You should also choose a cut-off time and activate an “out-of-office” on your work email inbox. Set your Slack status to offline. Find clear ways to signal that you’re no longer available to your work colleagues and stick to your own rules.
6. Move Your Body
Without even a journey to the office in our schedules, many of us find that we’re living more stationary lives as we work from home. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular exercise and short bursts of mindful movement throughout our day. You’ll find a vast range of at-home workout ideas online that don’t require expensive equipment.
Set an alarm every hour and stretch your body to avoid potential aches and pains from arising. Time can pass quickly when you’re absorbed in a task, but it’s unhealthy to spend long periods at your desk in the same hunched-over position.
7. Get Ready for Work
Yes, you’re working from home, and that comes with certain benefits. Rather than having to wake up early to iron your formal outfits, you can keep it comfortable and cozy with sweaters and elasticated waists. You shouldn’t let standards slide entirely, though.
Even if you’re only changing from pajamas into sports casual clothing, do make the change. Maintain normal hygiene standards as though you were heading to the office. There’s a psychological effect when you get ready for work, and you enjoy a better start to the day when you do so.
8. Differentiate Your Time
How do you handle the transition between work and free time? Many of us don’t do anything to mark this, and as a result, we find it difficult to relax. Our bodies still feel like they should be working without the ritual of the commute to tell them otherwise.
A good idea is to implement a routine whereby a single action signifies that work is over. Turn off technology and take a walk with a friend or family member at 5pm, for example. Watch your favorite show for half an hour every day at the exact moment when your work-day ends. You could even have an “end of day” song to help signal to your brain that it’s time to chill.
Working from home isn’t going anywhere soon, and the good news is this style of work offers great opportunities for better work life-balance when it’s approached in a strategic and sensible way. Many of us were thrown into the work-from-home lifestyle without much warning when the pandemic hit in 2020. A year later, we should be finding ways to make this change work for us so that we can enjoy both our work and leisure time.