Work-life balance is no longer a term businesses quote to impress prospective candidates or gain a competitive advantage. Work-life balance today is the shift in attitude that puts employees and their well-being at the forefront.
Recently however, the boundaries between our professional and personal lives are closing in. We work where we sleep, and our home is our office. Making the distinction between work and life has become tougher than ever. And because we inefficiently draw the line between our professional tasks, home chores, and personal time, we exhaust ourselves—feeling stressed, overworked, and unproductive. Just managing time better isn’t the way to a healthy work-life balance, managing boundaries is.
Here are 7 tips to ensure a healthy work-life balance while working from home:
1. Schedule professional and personal hours.
To stay productive while working from home, you need a well-designed schedule. Adhering to a workplace schedule even when working from home keeps you both motivated and productive. This is because our bodies and minds are used to doing the same task at the same time, everyday, for months and years.
Planning chores and personal tasks alongside your work schedule keeps work and life from overlapping (more than they already do!) and causing chaos. For example, instead of cooking a family meal in the afternoon during work hours, prep a day before and cook in the morning before you begin work.
Share your schedule with your family and convey why you need to stick to it; this will ensure greater support from them in handling chores and reducing distractions during work hours.
2. Take breaks.
You take breaks in an office, right? So why shouldn’t you at home? Schedule breaks like you would everything else—lunch breaks, coffee breaks, or a quick evening workout. Squeeze in some chores, spend quality time with your family, or just give yourself some breathing space between meetings and focused work.
If you feel tempted to skip these downtimes and find yourself scrambling to wrap up work earlier, remind yourself that productivity drops as you continue to work without rest and the time taken to complete tasks increases multifold. Giving your brain and body a break every now and then helps you get back to work feeling more fresh, energised, and attentive.
3. Foster a culture of support and open communication.
Teams that understand and support each other find it much easier to collaborate effectively. For leaders: ensure there is clarity about goals, objectives, new processes, hierarchies, etc. among your team. Do this by hosting team video calls once or twice a week to check on progress and by being available to answer any questions team members might have. Oh, and working from home becomes much easier when you have team collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Flock to speed things up and organise your important documents.
4. Create a post-work ritual.
A post-work ritual helps you effectively draw the line between work and life. This could simply be a workout, a reading session, or a 20-minute nap. Cal Newport, author of Deep Thinking, has a simple post-work ritual—he plans his next day, shuts down the computer, and says to himself, “Schedule shutdown, complete”. After he has said the magic phrase, Cal does not attend to any work message, email, or tasks.
Any routine that can become your “switch off” button should help you transition from work to relaxation. This will reduce stress and anxiety after a long working day, prepare you for an evening of fun with your family, and leave you fresh and energised for another day of work.
5. Introspect or keep a journal.
Finding meaning in your work and career will help you feel less burnt out. Keep 20 minutes at the end of your day to think about all the things you achieved, the lives you changed, and the goals you accomplished. Many successful people have the habit of journaling their thoughts before they sleep. It helps them stay in sync with their long term plans and reminds them why they set out on their specific career path. It also works as a motivator and helps them get back on track if they’ve wandered afar from their vision. Journal things you’re grateful for, lessons you have learnt, advice from mentors, mistakes you don’t want to repeat, compliments you received, and all of your brilliant ideas.
6. Set aside time for family and relationships.
Yes, you’re cooped up in your den crunching numbers and strategising, but you can (and should) take time out of your schedule to spend with friends and family. Research says that people with strong relations and friendships find it easier to deal with stress, workload, and anxiety. So, make it a point to have dinner with your family and video call your childhood friends often.
7. Switch to 'Total Life Planning'.
In a report published by HR Content Expert, Nancy R. Lockwood, she talks about making the switch from work-life balance to 'Total Life Planning'. This new approach encourages you to evaluate various aspects of your life—career objectives, financial goals, relationships, emotional and physical well-being, spirituality, interest and likes, etc.—and lets you formulate methods for work-life balance accordingly. By taking responsibility for developing your own life plan, and thereby your work-life balance programs, you grow passionate and enthusiastic about your work, are more dedicated and productive, and are much happier.
We hope these tips help you lead a more balanced life as you work from home so you can accomplish both professional and personal goals.