Despite the pandemic situation taking a turn for the worse, the world already seemed set on embracing the work-at-home arrangement for the foreseeable future.
“The Great Resignation” has been dominating the news as more Americans prefer to work remotely than remain 9-to-5 brick-and-mortar employees. It’s clear that the shift toward remote work will continue over the next few years.
Whether from home or at the office, work will continue to present challenges that might encroach on your personal life. But it won’t be that way if you follow our 10 tips on how to balance life and work at home.
1. Stick to a Schedule
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Distractions are everywhere and sometimes family and friends will demand your time. To remain productive without overlooking the needs of others, come up with a schedule and stick to it.
If you think about it, the only difference between work back then and now is the location. You’re no longer working in an office but at home. However, work is work. You still have to manage tasks, meet deadlines, and complete projects.
Before ending your workday, prepare the following day’s schedule. Identify the tasks you have to accomplish, schedule them based on priority, and allocate the number of hours you plan to dedicate per item.
2. Take Advantage of Digital Technology
Once you’ve established your work schedule, the next step is to inform everyone involved of the designated hours. You can do this effectively by using online tools for communication, project management, and file sharing.
For example, if you’re working with a remote team, you can use Asana as your project management tool. Asana lets you establish the chain of communication, create a work calendar, and distribute projects per person.
If you use Skype, include your work schedule or hours of availability on your profile. By doing so, you keep people who have nothing to do with your business from messaging you out of the blue.
3. Use Free Time for Me Time
Even when you’re working from home, you still need to take breaks to recharge before attending to the other tasks for the day. If you’ve set aside an hour to 90 minutes per task, a rest period of 30 minutes should be enough to get you going again.
The question is: “How should I spend my break time?”
30 minutes is enough time for rest but not much for anything extensive. Going to the laundromat or shopping for groceries will be out of the question. We recommend using your rest period for yourself.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Take a nap.
- Exercise for 10-15 minutes.
- Check your personal email.
- Check your personal social media accounts.
- Review the errands that you have to run after work hours.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t get yourself too tired or worked up. If you decide to exercise, get a good sweat going but don’t work yourself to the point of fatigue.
If you decide to check your social media accounts, avoid posts that trigger negative emotions or those that stress you out.
4. Don’t Forget Your Loved Ones in Your Daily Schedule
To achieve a balance, don’t just plan for work-related activities in your daily schedule. Include those who matter most to you – your family.
It’s distressing for children to hear “Sorry, I can’t make it to your recital today. I have a lot of work to do.” They might not show it, but for sure, your child will be disappointed that you couldn’t find time in the day for them.
The key is planning.
Here are 3 tips for you to consider:
- Tell your children to inform you ahead of time of the important dates or events in their schedule.
- Review your calendar and pencil in days in the month where you can do something special with the family.
- Make your schedule public so that your family will have an idea of your availability. For example, post a hard copy of your schedule on the refrigerator door. Update your calendar when needed.
Remember, you can always find time to get new clients or customers. There will always be opportunities for you to capitalize on. But time lost with family can be lost forever.
5. Keep Your Routine Going
If you followed a routine when you were getting ready for the office, there’s no reason you can’t keep it going when you’re working from home. Keeping your usual routine going will help you achieve a state of mental readiness faster and remain productive. It will feel more like “business as usual”.
The best part of it is that you have more time to enjoy your “rituals” because you don’t have to worry about traffic, the commute, or looking for an open parking space.
Go ahead and shower longer to feel refreshed. Savor that freshly brewed cup of coffee. Catch up with the family and give them some good advice for the day. Prepare your workplace; organize your area, review your calendar, and put your mind in office mode.
6. Focus On Quality Not Quantity of Work Hours
In a survey conducted by wfhresearch.com, 60% of respondents said they were more productive working at home compared to the office.
The result isn’t surprising because you don’t deal with the usual stressors and productivity inhibitors at home that you would at the office on a daily basis. These stressors include:
- The daily commute
- Office politics
- Frequent watercooler chat
- Micro-managing by the supervisor
- Unexpected changes in work schedule
For this reason, you can get more work done at home in less time than you would at the office.
If you dedicate 90 minutes per task, you can get 3 tasks accomplished per day while still having time for intermittent 30-minute rest breaks. The 3 tasks can be accomplished in 6 hours.
Compare that to a day in the office where according to studies, 10% of the workforce only puts in 90 minutes of productive work per day.
By following our 90/30 work schedule, you can boost your productivity by 300% – and you’ll only work for 6 hours per day not the usual 8 hours schedule.
Long hours don’t make you productive. It what’s you do during time spent at work that determines your level of productivity. Here are tips on how to get more out of each work-from-home day.
- Prioritize the high ROI tasks
- Work on the tasks that are closest to their deadlines.
- Start with the task that gives you sleepless nights.
- Delegate non-essential tasks.
Stay disciplined. As our teachers used to say in school, “Finish or not finish”, stop working and take your 30-minute break. If you didn’t finish the task but you’re within the deadline, finish it the following day and work on a new task when your break is up.
7. Designate Work and Play Areas
In the past, we’ve written about how important it was to dedicate a work area in your home to help you focus on your business. What we haven’t touched on is the importance of having a dedicated space for playtime as well.
Playtime for adults? Yes! Adults need to relax and decompress from work especially if things have been getting stressful. Taking naps are great but sometimes, all nap and no play can make you dull – and more tired.
What makes you less stressed out? Is it playing video games, playing a musical instrument like the guitar or piano? Do you prefer listening to vinyl records? How about solving puzzles or playing chess?
Identify the activities that help you chill then designate an area for them. Look for a room that’s hardly used and convert it into your private playroom.
Don’t be afraid of spending a bit such as for soundproofing if you’re a musician or a gamer. Managing stress helps improve productivity.
8. Take a Holiday
Sure, working from home frees you up from having to deal with traffic and office politics but you still have to deal with the demands of your business:
- Customer complaints
- Tech issues
- Problems within your remote team
- Financial matters
There will be days where 30-minute breaks won’t be enough to help you recharge and de-stress. If these days continue and accumulate, they will affect your performance and overall health.
When this happens, a vacation might be what the doctor ordered.
Go ahead and take a few days off with your family. Visit a place you’ve always wanted to go to. Plan a laundry list of activities. Shut down the diet temporarily and indulge.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a vacation.
9. Unplug Without Remorse
And while you’re on vacation – feel free to unplug – and not feel guilty about it. Sure, take a few pics and upload them on social media but don’t feel obligated to check on your work emails.
Trust that your remote team has everything under control. It’s okay to check on business matters once in a while. But to get the most out of your breaks – 30-minute periods or a vacation – unplug from technology.
For example, when at a restaurant or at the dinner table, tell everyone to put away their smartphones and engage in conversations. While on vacation, explore and get immersed in nature instead of video games.
Technology isn’t going away but relationships might drift apart without the human touch.
10. Remain Inspired
Perhaps the best thing about working from home is that you’re with the people who inspire you to succeed – your family.
When work gets tough, take a moment to seek inspiration from your family. Save the spreadsheet file and spend time with your wife and kids. Rediscover your “why” – your purpose for pursuing a successful work-from-home career:
- To give your family a life where they don’t have to worry about financial matters.
- To buy a bigger home where your kids can firmly plant their roots.
- To set aside money for your children’s education so that they won’t have to be burdened by student loans.
- To have a comfortable nest egg for you and the spouse.
To look forward to retirement and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether it’s a Harley-Davidson, a sailboat, or the new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster – if you can afford it, go for it!
Can your life at the office and at the home co-exist? Yes! You simply must make time for both. To succeed in life, you must succeed in your career and with your relationships.
That includes your relationship with yourself. Don’t give too much time to others that you have nothing left for you.
Did this article help you gain clarity about balancing life and work at home? If so, please share it with people in your community who might need it. And if you want similar blogs for your business, give us a call. We can create amazing content for you!