Many people who work from home struggle to find the perfect balance between their work and home obligations, juggling everything from answering emails, participating in a Zoom call, filling out expense sheets, picking up the kids from school, doing the laundry, making meals, and finding a few minutes to roll out the yoga mat for a few sun salutations.
Whew! Just thinking about what is expected of us each and every day is exhausting. Having a career that allows us to work from home offers an incredible amount of freedom to design each day and week any way we choose. If, however, we don’t want that freedom to turn into chaos, it’s critical to take some time to analyze what we expect from both our work and our home life. When we know what we want we can set the appropriate boundaries so that one aspect of the work/life equation doesn’t continually spill into the other, creating unnecessary stress and anxiety.
A few tips to get you started:
• Establish A Dedicated Work Area: Setting aside a space within your home where you have your desk, printer, and office supplies, helps define and separate your work space from the rest of your home where you live and play. A desk and the rest of the ingredients needed for a home office actually don’t take up too much floor space, so it’s possible to carve out a work nook just about anywhere.
• Be Flexible But Stick To A Schedule: Work at the times that are best for you. You might be more productive working from 8 to 10 a.m. and then from 4 to 9 p.m., rather than working the traditional 9 to 5. Whatever times you choose, block out your day, and don’t let household chores, running errands, etc., eat into your work hours. Similarly, during family or playtime, don’t answer your work phone or check your email.
Use An Alarm Clock: An alarm clock or the alarm on your phone can be your best friend if it is difficult for you to set work boundaries or make time for yourself. In the beginning it might seem silly to set your alarm to remind you that it’s time to take a break, but in the long run it can help you be more productive and feel less overwhelmed by all the things you have on your to-do list because it helps you set clear boundaries on your time.
Take a Nature Break: On days when your work involves a lot of meetings or talking on the phone, try to schedule some of those outdoors, while you are sitting in a park, walking on a nature trail, or setting up a table and chair on your patio or porch rather than at your desk. Connecting with nature and the outdoors has an overall positive effect on our well-being. You’ll return to your indoor desk relaxed and refreshed.
Include Exercise: Implement a regular exercise routine. That could be as simple as scheduling a walk during the day, or something more structured, like taking a yoga or tai chi class, in person or via Zoom, or even going to the gym. Exercise helps us release stress, stretches and strengthens our body and releases those feel-good endorphins!
Take Time Off: Remember the old adage? All work and no play make Jill or Jack a dull girl or boy. Taking time off is necessary to recharge our batteries. Each week can seem much like the next without time off to do some fun things. Just as you schedule your client calls, schedule some time for yourself — a long weekend here or there, one night a month for an evening out with friends, and a week or more at a vacation spot where you can relax and totally unplug.
When you work from home its essential to continually evaluate and re-evaluate your goals and values to determine what combination of the work/life balance works the best for you. For the most satisfying work/life balance identify your priorities, learn to say “no” to anything that doesn’t align with your goals and remember to re-evaluate often.
— Eileen Alexander, a writer living in western North Carolina, recently moved her home office to a room in her house with more sunlight and is feeling much more inspired and productive! She and Ilja have been working together since 2007, back in their New Hampshire days!