Where some may have got working from home down to a T, others struggle. Especially those who were not used to it before, but are now forced to. We give you 9 tips to maintain a healthy work-life balance while working from home.
Working from home can be great. It offers major amounts of flexibility, not to mention the option to work in your sweatpants. But it also comes with some challenges – especially for those who unexpectedly had to adjust their working situation. Now that the kitchen table is your home office and the kitchen your canteen, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Which in its turn can lead to burnout one way by overworking yourself, or unnecessary absenteeism due to a lack of motivation. So how do you do it?
Also, check out our webinar on Leading in times of remote working.
9 tips on maintaining a work-life balance from home
- Establish your ideal working space
- Clear out your workspace at the end of the day
- You don’t need 8 hours of uninterrupted focus
- Plan your breaks
- Make and schedule a to-do list
- Quit when you’re not getting ahead
- Establish new rituals and routines
- Take time to yourself in the mornings
- Schedule socializing
Tip 1: Establish your ideal working space
When it comes to working from home, you’re oftentimes told to “sit in a quiet room and turn off your TV and phone”. And while for some this may work, not everyone works the same. While one person needs to be free of any distractions to concentrate, others may actually enjoy a little background noise. So take that into account when deciding where you’re going to work. Whether it’s in your living room with the TV or radio on, or in your quiet home office: build up a workspace that enables you to be productive for the day.
Tip 2: Clear out your workspace at the end of the day
You’ve built your ideal workspace? Great! Now break it down. Naturally, if you have a dedicated home office in your house, you can just walk out and close the door. But if you’re working right smack in the middle of your living space, you are constantly confronted with your work during your private time. It also may tempt you or even pressure you to do a little more work; according to a study by the National Bureau of Economics across 21,000 companies in three continents people added 48 extra minutes to their workday since the start of the pandemic. So put away that laptop when you’re done for the day – you can set it up again tomorrow.
Tip 3: You don’t need 8 hours of uninterrupted focus
Are you allowed to step away from your desk while you’re at work? Have a little break, get a snack, have a little chat with your colleagues about the weekend? For your sake – I sure hope so. And most people are. If your employer is human, you’re probably not expected to be chained to your desk for 8 hours straight a day. So why do you do that at home?
There’s a surprising amount of people working from home that can make statements such as: “it was four o’clock before I even noticed I hadn’t taken a drink the whole day” or “I completely forgot to have lunch”. And that’s no good – you can’t keep that up in the long-term. Take a break, have a KitKat (ha). Walk your dog, meditate, do a little stretch. You have little breaks in the office every day, so take them at home as well.
Tip 4: Plan your breaks
This tip follows up the last one perfectly. While some people feel like they have to be in complete focus every minute of their working day at home, others just simply are. They get so into their work, they forget to take a break.
Therefore, at the beginning of the day, schedule your breaks. Maybe even set an alarm, so you’re reminded. Work time is work time, break time is break time. Committing to these breaks does not only ensure that you actually have them, but also works as a motivator to get back to work at the end of it. Because a deal’s a deal right?
Tip 5: Make and schedule a to-do list
Speaking of committing to deals with yourself. Having a to-do list to stick to can help you quite a bit. I hear you thinking – yes, it helps with working from home. But how will it help me with my work-life balance? Well, have you ever experienced a day where everyone seems to need something from you, preferably right now? You’re busy the whole day, but at the end, none of your own tasks are done. Which may compel you to finish your own work after hours.
Not only making a to-do list, but schedule dedicated time for each task, can help you to plan your day and makes it easier to say ‘no’ to your colleagues. Let’s clarify that I’m not telling you to not be helpful to your colleagues or not jump in on urgent matters. But there are many tasks that can wait until the next day (or the next, or the next). If the task is not urgent, pencil it in at a moment you have actually time for it.
Tip 6: Quit when you’re not getting ahead
Everyone has bad days. Those days where you’re staring at the clock or keep glaring at documents without absorbing any information. You can keep staring and glaring miserably until the work day is over, or you can simply stop. You’re not getting anything done that day anyway. And no, it’s not the same as playing hooky – as long as you catch up another time (though it is probably wise to check with your manager or employer if this is ok). When the next day everything is going fine and you’re really into your work, make up for the lost time at a moment you actually are productive.
Tip 7: Establish new rituals and routines
Get up, get ready and go to work – a flow many people are familiar with. Same as get to the office, turn on the computer and get a cup of coffee. Or locking your computer, eating lunch and taking a walk. You get the gist: us people are routine animals. And due to COVID-19, for many people, this routine is no more.
So create a new one! For instance, for many people, the commute at the end of the day is a way for them to ‘turn off’ work and relax a little bit, before they have to switch to their home responsibilities, such as grocery shopping. Replace this moment with a new ritual or routine; maybe a little walk, a little workout, reading a chapter of a book or turning on the music and having a little dance party with yourself – whatever works for you.
Tip 8: Take time to yourself in the mornings
As said before, we all have our routines. But don’t make it one to roll out of bed straight to your desk chair. In the mornings, take a little time to yourself, such as you would if you would go to the office. Take a shower, have breakfast, have a cup of coffee in the backyard. Start the day with you, and not your work.
Tip 9: Schedule socializing
Work is not strictly 100% work – at least not for most people. There’s a social aspect to it as well. It keeps you motivated, keeps the team spirit going and keeps you (you workaholic you) to bury yourself in work all day every day. Remotely, it’s easy to forget how much time a day you spend on small talk, and how much value it actually has. So schedule these moments. Have virtual drinks on Friday afternoon, and if you have a question for someone, make it an opportunity to call them and ask them about their day (though it might be a good idea to inform if this is a good time, first).
Want more tips to work more productively at home? Check out this LinkedIn article by former Frame CTO, Ruben Spruijt.
Want to discover more on working remotely? Check out one of these blogs:
- Has the future of working from home changed for good?
- 6 tips for working from home for communication managers
- 9 tips to manage remote employees
- The best communication tools for remote working
- 8 tips to prevent unnecessary absenteeism