It becomes more complex to draw the limits between work and home life when working from your own house. At these times in need of a balanced life pace, we bring you a few tips and routines to make the most of your life, relaxation and work from home.
When working from home, you need to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work and personal life. What about the ongoing distractions, the change in office equipment, the uncertainty in career development opportunities, and the lack of or, the increased connection with your colleagues, or family? Working remotely, especially when working from home most of the time, means figuring out these issues and many more.
While we are aware it will take time to get accustomed to this new rhythm, we provide you a few kind tips to help you make some sense of your work life balance in this new situation. Have a look at these 18 ideas that can help you lead a more balanced and more productive remote, or home working life.
1. Cheer yourself up.
No matter the situation we find ourselves in, we can always use a bit of cheering our way. The best way to lift your mood and bring your mindset to an abundance framework is to identify everything that exists in your life that you have reason to be thankful for, and spend a moment reflecting on each thing that comes to mind.
Each morning, or every moment you experience discomfort, try to be thankful for the things that take part of your life, and be thankful for your own existence. It’s even more powerful if you express each thing you are grateful for out loud.
The truth is, everyone has countless reasons to be thankful, and spending a few moments focusing on those reasons can do a world of good for your mood.
Try to just stand up and walk around for a few minutes and appreciate everything you see, hear, feel or smell. For example:
I am thankful for these floors that allow me to stand and walk around.
I am grateful for the people who made this place.
I am grateful for these windows that allow me to view outside while staying warm and comfortable inside.
I am grateful for my computer and the internet that lets me interact with all my colleagues, and loved ones around the world.
I am grateful for the fresh water I'm able to drink and keeps me hydrated.
I am grateful for this nature inspired moss frame from Forest Homes that allows me to stay connected to nature while indoors.
I am grateful for the nice, soft music that sets a great ambiance.
I am grateful for my stapler that allows me to keep everything in order.
Even the little things matter. So cheer yourself up by looking at all the things that you actually have, and by being proud of your accomplishments.
2. Set a schedule and stick to it... most of the time.
At a moment where schedules seem to disappear, it's very important for you to maintain regular hours. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps maintain a better work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else's time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.
3. Create and/or maintain a morning routine.
Starting and finishing work at a certain time is one thing. Building yourself a routine that guides you into the work flow is another.
While your personal morning routine will be distinct, there is an underlying common thread. We can think of our morning routine as a way to honour ourselves and to set a positive intention for the day. There is even some science behind the idea of setting an intention. In scientific terms, intention setting is supported by the concept of neuroplasticity—the belief that our brains are adaptive and that neural pathways can be restructured by learning, challenge, and experience.
With a morning routine framed as an intention for our lives, how can we start our day in a way that makes us happy?
There are so many combinations of morning-routine variables. They might include a morning hygiene routine, getting dressed, having breakfast, meditation, doing some exercise, and others.
The right answer is the one that feels good to you. A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day
We mention "morning routine", but not everyone who works from home follows a nine-to-five schedule. Yours might be a "getting started routine" at another time of day.
4. Get started early.
When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. At home, however, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be much more jarring.
Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Simply getting a project started first thing in the morning can be the key to making progress on it gradually throughout the day. Otherwise, you'll prolong breakfast and let the morning sluggishness wear away your motivation.
5. Pretend you're going to the office.
The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive. When working from home, do all the things you'd do to prepare for an office/workspace role: Set a time to wake up, wear clothes that you feel nice in. In other words, get fully ready for the day and pretend you're actually going to work. Otherwise, you might find yourself back in bed.
6. Create a motivating workspace.
Just because you're not working at an office doesn't mean you can't, well, have an office. Rather than confining yourself in your room, or sitting on the couch, dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Have a place you go specifically to work. It could be a certain table, chair, or if applicable, a local coffee shop (after quarantine).
You can have more than one place to work if you like to switch things up, however make them consistently your 'work spaces.' It helps you get into the right frame of mind. Sitting down in this space sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus.
Create a happy space, whether this is looking out a window, visualising a peaceful nature scene, or looking at a relaxing picture. Look at our gorgeous murals to inspire relaxation and peace with nature scenes.
For creating a motivating office space, read further on: How to transform your office in a more relaxed and productive space?
Note for after quarantine: If working from home is just not getting it done for you? You can take on working remotely from coffee shops, libraries, public lounges, and similar Wi-Fi-enabled spaces can help you simulate the energy of an office so you can stay productive even when you don't sit in an official workplace.
7. Plan your meals in advance.
Plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time, such as at the beginning of the week or workday. This prevents you from working to the point of hunger and then scrambling to decide what to eat. You should also avoid eating at your workstation.
Choose foods to boost memory, concentration, and alertness, such as pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and eggs. Limit your intake of refined carbs, processed foods, and sugary drinks.
8. Plan and structure your day in advance.
When working from home, you're your own personal boss. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.
Instead of having a vague plan, create a daily schedule and put it in writing. Generate a digital schedule or jot it down with pen and paper, and stick it in a visible place. Come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance.
It's important to do it in advance because spending time figuring out what you'll do today can take away from actually doing those things. And, you'll have planned your task list so recently that you can be tempted to change your schedule on the fly.
You can let some space in your agenda for it to be flexible to change if you need it to, but it's equally as important to commit to an agenda that outlines every assignment before you begin.
Try solidifying your schedule the day before, making it feel more official when you wake up the next day to get started on it. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.
Are mornings for writing while you're in the office? Use the same schedule at home. While you probably will get tasks done faster at home than at work, this structure will help keep you focused and productive.
9. Separate your personal work from your office work.
In an ideal world, you would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for your personal use. It's more secure for your work, and it lets you do all your personal activities in private. But not everyone has a separate office in their home, and keeping two machines isn't always realistic. Instead, dedicate a desk and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it's work time. When it's on your lap, that's personal time.
To keep things organised, you may want to go as far as partitioning your hard drive and creating a separate user account for work.
10. Communicate expectations with the people sharing your space.
You might be working from home, but you may still have "company." Make sure any person sharing your space, whether roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your space during work hours. Just because you are working from home doesn't mean you are "relaxing at home".
If anyone else is going to be at home when you're working, they just have to be clear that when you're in your 'home office'- wherever the status of your office may be - you're working, even if it looks like and feels like you're hanging out at home. It's easy to get distracted by the many things that have to be done around the house during the day.
If you have children who come home from school while you're still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you're home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn't mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that's how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that's fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you're home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.
11. Plan breaks and take them seriously.
Give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. Rather than just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, however, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house.
You may already be familiar with the importance of walking, documented by many creatives through the ages. You don’t need to walk miles for it to be effective. Take a 20-minute walk once or twice a day, especially when you’re feeling frazzled or indecisive.
Breaks like making and eating lunch, can recharge you to do better work. Don't assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you're home to be more productive.
Try taking time-definite breaks, and make them consistent. For example, try a lunch hour, and two 15-minute breaks seems per day.
12. Focus on one task (Plus the laundry hack).
Use time management techniques to achieve your tasks. An example of these techniques is the "Pomodoro Method". To try it, set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute sessions, take a break that’s 15 to 30 minutes. Continue these intervals throughout the day.
The Laundry Hack - Use laundry as a work timer.
You might have heard listening to just two or three songs in the shower can help you save water. And it's true; hearing a few of your favourite songs start and end, one after another, can remind you how long you've been in the bathroom and shorten your wash time.
Why bring this up? Because the same general principle can help you stay on task when working from home. But instead of three songs off your music playlist, run your laundry instead. Doing your laundry is a built-in timer for your home. So, use the time to start and finish something from your to-do list before changing the load. Doing laundry when you work from home, can help you set mini deadlines for yourself, corresponding to when you have to go switch loads.
13. Limit Distractions.
Social media is designed to make it easy for you to open and browse quickly. At work, though, this convenience can be the detriment of your productivity.
To counteract your social networks' ease of use during work hours, you might consider working primarily in a private or, if you're using Chrome, an "Incognito" browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts and each web search you conduct doesn't autocomplete the word you're typing. It's a guarantee that you won't be tempted into taking too many social breaks during the day.
If not needed for your work, remove all social networks from toolbar bookmarks. Even if you don't mean to browse them, some uncontrollable impulse subconsciously clicks on them when you experience downtime. You can get sucked in without knowing it (or even intending to), so eliminating the gateway to those networks keeps you on track.
14. Move your body and try to get some sun (if applicable).
To the extent that it's allowed and safe where you are during the COVID-19 outbreak, get out of the house, provided you can maintain social distancing of course. The same advice applies to people who work in traditional office settings, too. Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good.
You don't have to go to crowded public spaces to get away from your solo workspace (and you probably shouldn't right now, either). Take a walk. Incorporate more exercise into your daily routine and make a point to get outside if you can, even if it’s to the rooftop of your building.
15. Don't be hard on yourself.
The most successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space. That said, everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and looking at the next recipe to try out for dinner the next, don't reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, ask yourself whether people in an office setting do the same thing. If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack, then get back to work.
16. Make it your own.
Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are experiencing the same situation.
17. Practice self-care.
In addition to making sure your work gets done, take care of your physical and mental well-being during this sensitive time. Set yourself up for success by getting enough physical activity and maintaining your mental health.
This can include meditating, journaling, or dancing. Short bursts of these activities may help you let out some pent-up energy so you can focus on your work.
18. End your work day with a routine.
Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be signing out on a business messaging app, going for an evening dog walk, or doing a 6 p.m. yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on a favourite podcast will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.
Working from home during this time may not be what you planned, but you can make the most of it. You may find yourself living a life that feels like an extended snowfall day or a summer retreat. While it takes time to get used to the new normal, give yourself all the time and inspiration to adjust to your new work life.
Going about your work life in a new way can lead to positive shifts and growth. This extraordinary situation, and these new challenges allow you to rethink all areas of your life and give birth to new perspectives. Stay compassionate, understanding, and empathic for everyone involved.
Have faith in your ability to adapt and find the sweet spot in your work-life balance. Pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve accomplished, even if there have been some speed bumps along the way.
Remember, we’re all in this together.