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Maintaining Work-Life Balance While Working From Home

The remote workforce continues to expand. Among workers who are not self-employed, the number of those telecommuting on a regular basis has risen by 140% since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. In fact, in 2016, 57% of IT/tech-industry employees spent at least some time working remotely, according to Gallup. The benefits for workers are endless, from saving money and time to health advantages. But once we’ve made that decision to work from home, how do we separate our work life from our home life, when the two seem so determined to collide? That’s where creativity comes in.

Create a work space. Of course it would be great if every remote worker had a separate home office with a door that closed (and locked!), but that’s not always possible. Wherever you work, make sure it’s your space to work. It’s less important where it is than that it’s yours, and sacred for that purpose. Others in the house should be taught to treat it that way. If possible, it should be a quiet space, or only have the noise you choose. Get a comfortable chair, consider an adjustable desk so you can work from a sitting or standing position, add some inspiring artwork, and then commute from “home space” to “work space” in a few steps. Note: Keep the work space out of the bedroom. It makes it that much harder to create separation between home and work when you can literally see your computer from your bed, and your bed from your computer.

Create boundaries. Decide what your boundaries are, and stick to them. One of the toughest to enforce can be deciding when your family can interrupt you, and how. If you have an office space with a door, closing it might be a good signal. It’s up to you to establish and maintain the boundaries. That usually means not answering the phone (that’s why voicemail was invented), it certainly means not answering the text, and it MOST certainly means not answering social media. Be strong, friend.

Create a work attitude. It’s important to give yourself the right work mindset in order to be at your most productive. If you stumble from bed to bathroom to coffee-maker to desk, still blinking and yawning, you aren’t getting a productive start to your day. Instead, at the end of each work day, leave in your workplace a list of what needs to be accomplished the next day. The following morning, show up at your desk in work attire. You don’t need a power suit, but dressing the part goes a long way to getting you ready for the day, even if you’re only commuting five steps to your desk.

Create a work schedule, with breaks. Keeping irregular hours can play havoc with your brain. Set a schedule, and stick to it. Be sure to include breaks in the schedule you create. Get up at least once per hour; stretch your legs, and walk around a bit. Look at something other than your computer monitor, but try not to spend the break looking at your phone. Ideally, your eyes should be screen-free. Perhaps starting on time isn’t your problem, but you just can’t seem to stop at the appointed hour. If you still have a few things to finish, for whatever reason, it’s far too easy to just keep working when you have no commute ahead of you, but that can throw off your schedule. Try to maintain your pace throughout the day so you can stop at the designated time.

Create accessibility, and then unavailability. Most people working from home are still part of a team. It’s important to communicate effectively with your team about your schedule. Let them know when you’re available, and how to reach you in an emergency. Let them know your definition of “emergency.” When you take a vacation day, be unavailable. When you’re on vacation and popping into your chat tool or responding to emails, your team will learn that they don’t need to respect your boundaries, because you don’t respect your own boundaries. Use shared calendars, an app status, or direct communication to indicate whether or not you’re currently available.

When we talk about “work-life balance,” we always focus on the “life” aspects. No one seems to need a reminder to work enough, but we need reminders to live enough! Maintaining a balance between your life and your work is important for both your physical and mental well-being, and for the health of your personal relationships. If you’re neglecting your body, your mind, or your people, you won’t be living your best-possible life. Start making small, intentional adjustments to your space and routine. Balance won’t come overnight, but with time, you’ll see improvement as each small change becomes a habit. In time, you’ll be a more productive worker and a happier human being!

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Talk Back

Gina
Posted on December 11, 2018

Excellent reminders! Thanks!

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