When you are entertaining the kids, making meals, letting your pets out to play, and trying to get work done all within the same four walls, it can be hard to know when to close the laptop and just let yourself be. I have struggled with this myself in the past (and—who are we kidding—still do). But, if you set your intentions early in your WFH journey, finding balance can be fairly easy.
If you’ve recently found yourself working remotely, you might be tempted to dive right into a strict, “I-am-going-to-prove-myself-and-work-all-day-and-night” mentality. The thing is, there is nothing to prove. More than likely, you will be just as, if not more productive by working from home. But, we want to make sure you dive into this lifestyle the best way possible. So, I am going to share my personal experience and (some of) the mistakes I made so that you can have a healthy work-life balance right away.
How I Lost My Work-Life Balance
I started working from home on the same day I temporarily moved to a new country. As an introvert, working became the perfect excuse for me to keep my head down and produce a ton of content while avoiding having to make new friends. I love people, but having to introduce myself to strangers in a new place—that’s a big no for me. So, working fed my reasoning for staying inside of my home. Distractions, for me, weren’t so much of an issue. Other than walking to my favorite coffee shop in the world every single day, I was great at hunkering down and working. But, it came at a cost. My lifestyle that, weeks before, was filled with workouts, hanging out with friends, hiking, and getting out on the water in San Diego, quickly became work and little else.
I was proud of it at first. “Dang!” I thought, “I am pretty good at this whole work from home thing.” But, what I didn’t realize was I was losing all balance. My world was becoming completely wrapped in work, and this gorgeous country that I was able to travel in was going unseen. It took me a few years before I learned how to close my laptop and live, but you can start today
1 | Learn How To Time Block
Now, with a home to care for, and a lot more distractions, I am forced to allow myself to live. For me, the best thing I’ve done is to implement time blocking. It is an exercise that will enable you to think through your day and block out time in your schedule for each activity you need to complete. More on that here. It sounded daunting at first, but what I realized was, by blocking out time and listing out everything I needed to do, I was able to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, and have free time to enjoy the people and hobbies that I love.
I thought that becoming a business owner and working from home meant I had to give up that balance, but that was naive. You can have your cake and eat it too, but it comes with a lot of hard work and planning. Once you figure it out, the balance will help you to be even better at your job than before.
2 | Close Up Work For The Day
The second thing I stopped doing was using my laptop for personal use. I know, some of us might not be able to choose which computer to use, or we might even share our devices with multiple family members. I also only have one computer. But, I realized that I didn’t need my laptop for any of the personal reasons that I was using it for. Social media, email, photos, Spotify—they’re all on my phone.
But why should you turn your computer off for the day? Well. When I was using my laptop to watch Netflix and check Facebook at night, my work email notifications would pop up. It would take me out of that moment of just living a life, and back into my work email answering clients and team throughout the night. So, now I open my computer at the beginning of work and close it down at the end of the day. I can watch my next documentary without worrying about what is going on in the business world. I can do my yoga videos without being distracted by the email looming in the background. (Isn’t that what yoga is all about?)
3 | Allow Yourself To Get Off Track
Finally, I allow myself time to disconnect during the workday. Before, I was pretty strict about not letting anything distract me. And then I would be exhausted for days on end, wishing that I had free time. But, I was trapping myself into not allowing for it. I don’t have children, but I imagine, if you have found yourself working from home with kids in the house, you might feel guilty for needing to give them attention. Don’t. Please. There are ways to work distraction-free while still giving yourself the grace to allow quality time with your kids, loved ones, pets, or anything else that may come up. So, the third piece of advice is to let yourself have those moments. Give yourself 30 minutes to go out in the yard and throw the ball to your dogs. Then, come back in and get to work. Balance is key in life and part of the joy of working from home is the ability to savor those precious moments when the love you are surrounded by needs your attention.
So, how can you get started today balancing your work and home life while working from home? Our team would love to hear your story! You can submit your WFH advice on our contact page, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need any other work from home tips, follow along. Have a specific question? Send us a comment. We would love to help you answer any of your WFH questions!