The work-from-home revolution came in 2020, and there’s no sign it’s leaving any time soon. Many of the jobs that were once considered essential to in-person operations were outsourced to at-home workers, and this change indeed came with some obstacles. One of the biggest of these was the challenge of achieving a work-life balance — how can you separate work from your personal life when you work from home? Follow these tips for improving your work-life balance.
1. Get a Physical Work Space
If you work from home, you’re likely guilty of rolling out of bed, making a cup of coffee, and getting right back into bed to start your workday. Though the warmth and blankets are undoubtedly alluring, this can cause a severe issue when you’re struggling to maintain the boundaries that are essential to work-life balance. The solution? Get a physical workspace that’s separate from the rest of your home. If it can be an office, great! If it can only be a desk in the corner, that’s great, too, as long as it’s a dedicated space for work.
2. Make Sure to Get Out of the House
You wake up, go to work, finish work, relax, go to sleep…and start the whole thing all over again in the morning. If you aren’t careful, days will start blending, and you’ll likely have a hard time maintaining a personal life when you rarely leave the house. Grocery runs aren’t enough, so you must make time for out-of-the-house excursions, including social engagements and other fun activities. Work from home jobs can be incredibly isolating, but if you make an effort to connect with people, you won’t miss out on socialization.
3. Establish Boundaries with Clients & Employers
When you work from home, it can feel like some of your boundaries are disappearing. How can you “leave work at work” when your home is your workplace? It can be easy to let work stress bleed into your life even outside of work hours, but you have to fight this by implementing boundaries with your clients and employer. One of the easiest ways to do this is to be explicit in stating your hours of availability — tell clients that you can’t take calls after 5 p.m. Tell your employer that you won’t answer emails on the weekend. These boundaries can help you maintain a work-life balance.
4. Establish Boundaries with Family or Roommates
Clients and employers aren’t the only ones you’ll likely have to set boundaries with. If you live with family or roommates, you’ll probably need to be clear with them, too, about your responsibilities and availability. Make it clear to any cohabitants that you are unavailable during work hours unless it’s an emergency. Remind them, too, that you need peace and quiet when you are working to concentrate on the task at hand.
5. Set a Routine and Stick to It
It can be challenging to set a routine if your routine has been upended by working from home. It can certainly take some getting used to, but a routine will be the best way to adapt quickly. Take the time to set a clear schedule for yourself, starting with a designated daily wake-up time, an allotment for meditation, breakfast, or showering, and a specified start time for your workday. Decide how many hours you want to work — six, eight, or ten, typically — and designate a spot in your home to do this work. Once you’ve set this routine, you must stick to it.
6. Make Time for Breaks and Meals
You shouldn’t neglect to include time for breaks and meals in your routine, too! Working from home doesn’t mean that you can’t afford the small indulgences; it makes them more critical. Be sure to work time into your daily routine for a few 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute or hour-long lunch break, too. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you have the energy to finish your work.
7. Set Clear Goals for Every Work Day
Many work-from-home jobs require a certain amount of self-direction. Without a boss hovering over your shoulder, you are responsible for how much you get done — or don’t. If you want to maintain productivity and ensure that you get the most out of a workday, you need to set clear goals for yourself. If you don’t do this, you will find yourself falling behind in work and struggling to finish everything you need to get done. This, in turn, will cause you to worry about work outside of your designated work hours — thus upsetting your work-life balance.