A Remote Worker’s Guide to Balancing Home and Work
A Remote Worker’s Guide to Balancing Home and Work
Balancing your home and career can be a challenge for any employee, especially when you live and work in the same space. How do you allocate your time between personal and professional responsibilities? How can you focus on conference calls when you’re surrounded by dirty laundry?
I know from many years experience of working from home that there can be challenges and struggles! So I thought I'd put together a little guide for you to help set priorities and reduce distractions.
Whether you’re new to remote working or you moved out of your cubicle years ago. Use these tips for staying peaceful and productive when you work from home. Remember - it has to work for you, so don't be afraid to try something for a bit, then tweak it and try it again. A lot of the ways that work best for Amy and I have been found through trial and error.
Setting up your environment:
1. Follow a schedule. Set a start and end time for your day. Tackle your most challenging tasks during the hours when you’re at your peak. Think out of the box a little - perhaps you break your day up and work in blocks, maybe you have strict hours that you need to be available. Knowing this and planning it out gives your brain space to relax when you are not working. When it’s time to quit for the day, leave your job behind. How can you do this? Perhaps an alarm on your phone, or playing your favourite song can mark the transition from 'work time' to 'home time'. This may seem silly to read but after chatting with many of our clients it is this very point that causes the most difficulty in the day. We need something that separates us from work time. Let's take this opportunity to make it fun!
2. Design your space. Designate a separate space for business. It could be a whole room or a corner in your dining room. Decorate your space with pictures, art, and objects that you find inspirational and uplifting. Find yourself a favourite pen, mug, stationary - whatever works! The objective is to separate home life from work life, and for each one to bring you joy.
3. Change your clothes. You may not want to wear a suit and tie but changing out of your pyjamas will help your body switch from home to work. Hang up your bathrobe and get dressed each morning. Find comfy clothes that keep you warm and make you feel good when you catch a glimpse of yourself on a conference call. A cosy pair of slippers or socks is a remote workers joy 😉
4. Limit distractions. It is super easy to get distracted. You are at home, you are in your comfort zone, no one is keeping an eye on you.. this is where point 1 comes in handy. Schedule some fun 'distraction' time into your day. Since you are working from home, you might as well enjoy the perks!
5. Take breaks. Speaking of breaks, take them. You’ll be more productive if you refresh your mind and body periodically. 5 minutes every hour to stretch is what is recommended. We love Serenity and Solace for tips on stretching and self-care.
6. Wind down. Do something at the end of each day to help you transition into an 'off-duty' mindset. You might listen to classical music or take a walk in the park. Similar to point 1, we can't stress enough how important it is to differentiate between work and home life. Anyone ready to bring back the kitchen disco?
7. Get organized. Create routines and systems that encourage efficiency. Buy a cabinet for your office supplies (you can shut it away!). Use an online calendar to block out your time. Decide a time when you look at emails daily. Only look at them then. If you post to social media, schedule in that time to 'wake the algorithm', post and share. What works best for you? We'd love to hear in the comments.
8. Continue learning. Career development matters whether you work at your dining room table or in a corner office. Take a course online or order a catalog for the adult education program at a local university. Read industry publications and general business news. It is easy to feel a little 'stuck' but we have found that learning new things keeps the ideas fresh, expands our mindsets and introduces us to new online communities.
9. Evaluate your performance. Conduct your own job evaluations. Look for ways to increase quality, save time, and manage stress. Update your strategy as your goals evolve. We find that its best to set a time each week, or day, to do this. We start with a 'check in' at the beginning of the week and a review at the end of the week. What worked well for you? What area would you like to grow in? What would you do differently?
Steps to Take with Your Family, Friends and Colleagues:
1. Talk with your boss. It will be easier to balance your life when you and your boss agree on overall expectations. Negotiate the flexibility you need to succeed.
2. Post your hours. Ensure your boss and coworkers know the hours that you’re available. Discuss arrangements for how to deal with emergencies that occur outside of those times.
3. Go out for lunch. Your midday meal is a daily opportunity to stay connected while you work at home. Plan a weekly date at a local cafe to catch up with your office friends or other employees who work from home. Looking forward to things in the work week is important and creates a healthy rhythm.
4. Remain visible. Make business lunches and other events part of your strategy for cultivating your network. Show up on a regular basis for staff meetings, birthday parties, and other gatherings when you can. Working from home can be the introvert's dream or the extroverts nightmare. You can make this work for you, just remember that connection is important for a human to thrive.
5. In it together. A strong support network helps you to build your confidence and accomplish more. Ask your family and friends for the emotional and practical assistance you need. Let them know how much you appreciate them and pitch in when they need a hand too. Working from home can be a bit of a juggling act but that's ok!
By practising the above and being intentional in the way you approach remote work, it is possible to enjoy the process without the weight or guilt of responsibility niggling away at you all the time.
A little bit of time spent implementing these strategies provides you with long term benefits and better mental health
You don’t have to give up life balance when you give up your commute. Enjoy more health and happiness by drawing sensible boundaries between your personal and professional activities.
Would love to hear what works for you in the comments,
All the best,