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For a healthy mind, body and business when you work from home

How to strike a work-life balance when you work at home

Work-life balance. That elusive ideal we’re all chasing and striving for.

In my experience, it’s never going to happen. I’m not saying you won’t come to a happy arrangement, but striking a “balance” in the truest sense of the word, is pretty nigh impossible.

Work-life integration is probably closer to it. Something author, educator and wellbeing advocate, Joy Marchese, talked about in her piece on creating work-life harmony in issue 1 of The Homeworker magazine.

There will always be moments when family or other situations have to take priority and there will be times when pressing deadlines loom or big projects are underway when work and business will take over for a while.

Is homeworking the holy grail of work-life balance?

For many, achieving work-life balance begins with being able to work from home and having flexible working hours.

National Work-Life Week even gives employers an opportunity to showcase their flexible working policies.

So, for somebody who already has that, setting boundaries around work life and home life is critical to establish a balance that helps you stay productive when working, and at ease and relaxed when not.

Giving yourself a dedicated space in which to work can help you to get into work mode and close your mind to the distractions around the house. Importantly it gives you that physical distance to help define where work ends and home life begins.

Homeworking can often be seen as the holy grail of work-life balance yet you are more likely to be permanently switched on and ‘at work’ when the ‘office’ literally steps away.

Check out the six D’s: These are The Homeworker’s tips for achieving the work-life balance when work is at home.

Dress for the day

what to wear when you work from home for work life balance and productivity

As tempting as it might be to lounge in your pyjamas all day, one of the most effective ways of establishing the start and end of your working day can be as simple as a change of clothes.

Dressing for work need not mean getting suited and booted. You might go for comfort over corporate but getting out of the pjs is critical to that start-the-day and getting-down-to-work feeling.

Not only does it give you a sense of professionalism, it prevents you slipping into poor habits; not getting dressed could easily lead to lying in bed a bit longer, feeling tempted to lounge on the sofa and catching that final Netflix episode and then it’s the downward spiral! It also means you are ready for video calls and conferences or can head out at a moment’s notice.

Dedicated workspace

A physical boundary between work and domestics is ideal. If you’re fortunate to have a separate office or studio at home, or even just a room in which you can shut yourself away, it inevitably makes it easier to separate work life from home life.

For many homeworkers, the workspace is within the main home: a desk in the corner of the living room, the kitchen or dining table and let’s face it, even the sofa!

Giving yourself a dedicated space in which to work can help you to get into work mode and close your mind to the distractions around the house. Importantly it gives you that physical distance to help define where work ends and home life begins.

Even when your kitchen table must serve as a part-time desk, clearing away any reminders of it being a place to eat can prove productive. Get rid of the placemats, any crockery and even a centrepiece, which you might associate a meal time. Setting it out as a desk with office stationery, computer, perhaps even a couple of photos can help your mind shift into work mode.

Defined working hours

One of the challenges with working from home is allowing your work day to merge seamlessly into family and home time.

Scheduling can be one of the keys to maintaining a work-life balance that allows you to leave work behind at the same time each day, much as you would at the office.

A set routine helps you enforce the end of work and lets you relax again in the evening.

It can be tempting to keep working, especially with heavy workloads, tight deadlines or even if you love what you are doing. However, all work no play does not just drain you, it impacts on the people you share a home with who don’t want to feel as if they live in a place of work.

For your own sanity, a disciplined schedule helps you to enjoy some downtime each day, rather than leading to screen-tired eyes and eventual burnout. (Also see next point.)

Days off

work life balance when you work from home

Unplug and recharge might seem like an oxymoron but it’s something everybody needs to do. Whether you keep the standard weekend or take a day or two off mid-week, making sure you take at least a day off each week helps prevent burnout.

There can often be feelings of guilt or frustration at not working. When the laptop and paperwork are only a few metres away, it can often be tempting to send a few extra emails, write a few more words or make a few more tweaks on a day when you’d typically not be at work.

Taking a proper break can ultimately prove more beneficial in the long run. It can aid creativity and let you return to your work feeling much more invigorated, motivated and full of ideas.

Crucially, it gives you a day when you intentionally shut off from work and spend time doing something for yourself, focusing on your self-care, or a day with family and friends, having fun and unwinding.

Doing something not work-related

Making sure you pencil in time to do things that are not related to your job forces you to take time out and take a break from the desk.

When you work in an office and out of the house, it can be easier to head out at lunchtime to pick up some shopping, fit in a quick gym session, or grab the haircut you need after work. When at home, it can be a challenge to make sure you leave the house when everything you need is under the same roof.

Making appointments and timetabling space in your day to head out and complete other tasks, ensures you do not just become a one-(wo)man work machine with no life outside of the laptop. Scheduling in a workout, a coffee date or that massage you’ve been meaning to book yourself helps you to balance those work-life scales.

Discussions

The all-important communication is critical to establish healthy boundaries and a sense of harmony when you work from home.

When other family members are impacted by your work and where you work, being respectful of their needs and allowing them a window to talk with you about what’s going on will help any feelings of resentment or neglect.

Set aside time to discuss your work routine and the busy periods when you might need some extra space or time. Allow them to offer help and check-in regularly to see that everyone is happy with the work-life situation at home.

For positive and healthy communication tips, there are lots coming in issue 3 of The Homeworker magazine.

Like what you read? Then you’ll love The Homeworker magazine. With even more in-depth advice and strategies, each issue is packed with insights and inspiration from experts. It’s the only magazine designed to reassure, support and inspire you when you work alone at home. You’ll also get exclusive discounts inside on products and services you’ll love.
Get each quarterly issue straight to your inbox with an annual subscription

 

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