Finding Work-Life Balance when You Work from Home
When you work from home, the line between work and your personal life often become intertwined. You may find yourself taking care of personal tasks during the workday and at the same time, doing work-related tasks when you're supposed to be off the clock. Before the pandemic, only 20% of people who said that their job could be done from home actually worked from home, whereas now 71% of those workers are working from home. With so many individuals now working from home, finding ways to keep one's work-life and personal life separate is important to maintaining personal boundaries.
How to Balance Your Life when You Work from Home:
Have a dedicated working space. Whether you're fortunate enough to have your own home office or if your office is simply a corner of your living room, having a dedicated space to work in will help you minimize distractions and let your brain know that when you're there, it's work time. Currently, my office is just a desk in my bedroom. Your office space doesn't need to be anything fancy. Once you leave this space for the day, your mind will know that it's no longer time for work. Working on the couch or on your bed with your laptop may be tempting because it's comfortable, but our minds do associate spaces with certain activities. Therefore, the bed should be for sleeping, the couch should be for relaxing, and your dedicated work space should be for working.
Establish a set time that you will stop working. Every day, stop working at the same time. This time may be set by your employer or by yourself. Either way, don't work past this time. Having this boundary will allow you to put in focused work during your working hours and it will give you the freedom to live your life once the work day is finished. There will always be more work to do so if you don't have a hard cutoff time, you may find yourself working all of the time.
Create an end of the work day routine. Having a routine that you do at the end of your workday will signify that work is wrapping up and it's time to shut things down. This routine can also help you make sure that you actually stop working at the time you said you would. Your routine might look like powering down your computer, organizing loose papers, tidying up your desk, changing into comfy clothes, and going on a walk.
Wear professional clothes. By wearing nice clothes when you're working, you're giving your mind another cue that it's time for work. Similarly, by changing into comfortable clothes after work, your mind realizes that it's time to unwind and switch out of work-mode. Plus, it's nice to already be dressed appropriately for when you have a Zoom meeting with colleagues/clients.
Take a real lunch break. When it's time to eat lunch, take a break from answering emails or doing work. You don't have to unplug; you can surf social media if you like, but use this time to do something other than work while you eat your lunch. Unwind for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or however long you think is appropriate for your lunch break.
Have all other tabs and apps closed while working. With the internet at our fingertips and no one watching over our shoulder when we work from home, it's all to easy to waste a few minutes here or there online shopping, making personal appointments, etc. To stay focused on your work, try only having browser tabs open that are related to your work. If you need help with this, you can try an app like AppBlock, which blocks apps and websites so that you can be more productive.
Take the weekend off. You deserve uninterrupted time off from work. Whether you get the traditional weekend off or if your off days are during the week, take this time to truly unplug from work. Don't check your email. Don't text coworkers or your boss. This is your time to focus on anything and everything besides work.
As someone who works from home, I completely understand how hard it can be to maintain work-life balance. I hope these tips help you better balance your life if you work from home. I know that I need to implement these tips more into my own life!