At the peak of the pandemic, at least 42% of the U.S. workforce was working from home. Although some businesses have chosen to bring employees back to the workplace, working from home is the new norm for many. If that’s you, but this new norm doesn’t feel so normal, read these helpful tips for how to balance work and life from home.
Have a designated area.
Creating a spot that is solely for work is especially important in separating the fine line between work and life when you work from home. It doesn’t need to be a fancy home office. It just needs to be a space that you don’t use for another purpose. Why? It’s all about the vibes (whether you’re a person who believes in vibes or not). At home, your body is conditioned to act certain ways in certain spaces (i.e. sleeping when you’re in your bedroom). If you have the space, it’s wise to invest in a desk—the simplest way to create a designated working area. When you’re at your desk, you work, when you step away, you’re at home. Otherwise, those lines get blurred and the next thing you know you’re working in your kitchen.
When you’re at home, you’re surrounded by comforts you wouldn’t usually have at work—a comfy couch to nap on, your favorite snacks (unlimited), and no one hovering over your shoulder—requiring discipline that not many people have. But there’s hope. It’s called block scheduling. It’s simple and low-tech: keep a calendar, paper or digital, and set time blocks on your calendar to do specific tasks. The hardest part? Actually forcing yourself to do the tasks during the time blocks. The solution? Work in 15-minute increments. Set a timer, work until it goes off, then get up, and reward yourself with a lap or two around your space or get some sunshine with your dog before getting back to it.
My favorite way of tracking tasks and time is with Toggl. Toggl is also incredibly useful for gauging your productivity – it offers daily, weekly and monthly reports and when something that usually takes me 15 minutes is suddenly taking me an hour I know that I’ve over-extended myself, have been working too much or for too long, and need to take time off away from my computer.
Hear me out. Remember what I said about your body being conditioned to act certain ways? Well, when you’re wearing sweats (or if you’re team no pants), your brain wants to relax. Unless your day is full of meetings where you can turn your camera off, you’re going to want to actually get dressed for work. If you’re lacking motivation, a power outfit, or even just your power shoes, jewelry, or hairstyle can light the fire you need to get through the camera-on meeting that definitely could’ve been an email.
Feeling depressed? Not doing so hot mentally? Stressors getting you down? I don’t care how much you don’t want to, but you need to 1) get some exercise, 2) take a shower, 3) actually get dressed and then 4) feed and water yourself. Structure is important and the lack of it bleeds into productivity and our emotional well being.
Set boundaries and stick to them.
Just because you have your laptop at home (and your boss and team knows), doesn’t mean you should be available 24/7. This is a boundary for you just as much as it is for your colleagues. There will always be more work to return to, and very few things are truly urgent. The list will never go away. Pick your working hours, make them known, and stick to them! Delete the work apps from your personal phone while you’re at it. You’d be surprised how easy it is for others to respect your boundaries once you do and these boundaries are key to keeping that balance of work and life at home.
Remember to keep your resume and LinkedIn updated. That includes a fresh headshot—you want to be recognizable when you finally get back to your workplace. Reach out to me for headshot pricing and packages for you and the whole team.