Finding balance when your office is also your home

Maintaining the work-life balance

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Home Office

After spending more than 4 years working from home, I’m all too familiar with it’s ups and downs. Sure it’s fantastic having a two-second commute to my desk, lunch any time and the freedom to structure my exercise, social catchups, and travel plans when I please. The struggle, on the other hand, includes finding a work-life balance and establishing a healthy amount of all the above.

If only I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Oh, I could never work from home. I’d be too distracted!” With a recent 2017 Gallup survey reporting an increase in the number of people working remotely, it’s time we start fleshing out the wellbeing basics for sharing our living spaces with work.

Here are the six tools that I’ve developed to create a work-life balance.

1. Get ready as if you were going to a day job

The act of getting up and dressing for work (however that looks to you) helps to kick-start the ‘workday’. Although some days it can feel tempting to stay working from bed in your pajamas, the act of consciously getting ready helps to shift our mindset.

After you’re up and dressed, get settled in a dedicated “office” space and switch on work mode.

2. Make a daily list and schedule

Once you’re seated in your “office”, wherever that may be within your house, make a daily list and schedule.

List out what you want to achieve that day and create a realistic time schedule for getting it done. This schedule will help keep you accountable for getting set tasks done within allocated timeframes. There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off your list as you conquer your daily tasks.

When you have a million and one things to get out the door, it’s common to feel that you’ve barely achieved anything at the day’s end. You know your abilities. Use this knowledge at the start of each day to clearly set out what you expect to get done. Once that end of the day arrives you can more accurately measure your productivity. You can then consciously let go of any extra guilt of all the other things you “could” have achieved.

3. Reduce distractions out of hours

When your work is your home, there will always be plenty of distractions popping up. Washing, tidying, and people to meet up with. You’re at home after all – surely you have time to spare? Fitting in exercise and all that comes with feeding yourself and your family; going to the shops, cooking and cleaning. It’s not just a quick 15-minute process that it might be if you were popping out for a quick lunch at a remote office job.

But the trick is discipline. How many of these distractions will you entertain within your set working hours? Having healthy boundaries with friends, family, and yourself is key. If you feel guilty about not doing something because you’re at home and you feel it should be done – remember you’re now at work, and you can address it once the workday ends.

4. Have breaks

Regardless of where we undertake our work, we need breaks. The two golden break rules are: Keep your breaks timed and ensure you actually take them. Try not to enmesh too much of your day with 5-second breaks here and there, like a sneaky walk to the fridge… An 8-hour workday requires at least a one hour break in order to recharge your mind and increase your overall productivity.

5. Be mindful

Once your assigned workday is over, do the best you can to reduce the amount of time you spend thinking and talking about work. 

It can be helpful to set aside time to have a debrief session with your partner or family member. This is a healthy way to share what you’re going through – but don’t let it consume you. 

It’s easy to feel constantly “on” when your work and home environments are shared. Naturally, you’re used to thinking about work in that space. So, be extra conscious of this, and intentionally think and talk about things other than work.

6. Schedule days and time off

Ensure you schedule a whole day off work every now and then simply to have fun!

Guilt-free, mental health days can be hard to assign when we’re our own boss. Before we know it we’re fitting in a quick email check here and there – but the benefits of having a whole day off will far outweigh cramming in a measly few hours. If you find this difficult to do, remember that taking the time to switch off will bring you more productivity when you return to your project.

While none of these tips are rocket science, the tricky part is putting them to practice. Be mindful when your home is your workplace and the lines become blurred. By learning to create a healthy balance you’ll be a lot happier at both work and home. 

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