When you exclusively work from home, physical boundaries between work and your personal life can feel virtually nonexistent. Even if you're organized, it can still be difficult to successfully manage your career and a household in the same space, especially if you're raising a family, too.
While it may not be possible for home-based business owners and workers to completely draw the line between personal and professional, there are ways to better integrate the different facets of your life. Experts provided some tips for better work-life balance when you work at home.
- Get dressed in the morning.
It's tempting to stay in your pajamas or get around to brushing your hair later, but the way that we feel when we're dressed for business can be a significant self-signal and mood lifter. This isn't just about being prepared for video chat, but instead how we can draw certain lines for ourselves even in isolation. Putting on business attire can make things feel official in a surprising way. Getting ready is important, especially because the way you dress can affect the way you feel.
- Create a work station.
Much like putting on a proper outfit, committing to only doing work in a defined space. Some of us are lucky enough to have a home office, but many of us who don't normally work remotely are making do with our kitchen tables. That's totally okay as long as we give it an office feel. This can be as simple as setting your pens in a cup in front of your laptop, getting your mouse and mousepad oriented. Having the resources around you to do your work and maybe even a few niceties (a colorful stapler or some flowers) doe’s wonders for creating a sense of place.
- Make an 'On Air' sign.
Many of us are working from home with our partners or kids or if we're lucky, both! If you're like me you leave your earbuds in all day, and it can be hard for those around you to know when you're actually on a call. Rather than waiting for your kids to scream “ARE YOU ON A CALL?!” while you're on a call, grab a flash card or sheet of paper you can tape to something that says 'On Air' so those around you know when silence is appreciated.
- Create a messaging channel.
Working from home can create disconnect; both with a "typical" work structure and the team. It's important to touch base with the team and communicate effectively and so having a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel or even a WhatsApp or iMessage group for banter with colleagues can be a good release and way to connect with your teammates. Remember, you've just gone from seeing your work “family” 40 hours a week to 0, you may miss them just like you'd miss anyone else that's such a big piece of your life, and they're very likely feeling something similar.
- Block out your time to focus on specific tasks
Giving your full attention to a specific task, regardless of whether its work- or home-related, can be tough with all the distractions that pop up throughout the day.
When you want to give so much to your family and also want to give so much to your business. It can be challenging to divide time between those two, especially when working from home.
Set your priorities and stick to them. Don't deviate from the tasks. There will always be other things to do around the house (laundry and such) but don’t let house chores interfere with the tasks at hand and the times that I’ve allotted for work. The most helpful way to accomplish this is to set aside specific times on your schedule for personal and professional to-dos.
Dedicating time to one area helps me stay focused during those moments and ensure I'm giving my all to the task at hand.
- Have an official end to the day.
When working from home it's especially important to sign off and refresh. Work is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you treat remote work as one long sprint you'll be completely exhausted long before it's over. It can be hard to end your day or create boundaries when there isn't a change of surroundings, but be sure to set a time after which you don't do anything for work besides truly urgent issues.
Closing your laptop and 'shutting down' your office by putting your workspace away or vacating your new 'office chair' are a great way to separate yourself. I'd also recommend doing some day-ending exercises or stretches to let your body know you're shifting focus. A 5-minute meditation can also be great for creating this space.