The Act of Balancing Your Life When Working from Home

Establishing an effective working-from-home routine is more difficult than many people think. Set clear boundaries and give yourself time to adapt.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business and industries around the world to institute the practice of remote work. Jobs that were once considered “impossible” to do remotely are now possible, thanks to advancements in technology, and just as important, changes in attitude. Despite being a practice adopted by necessity in these last two-plus months, remote work promises to revolutionize business and change the demographics of countries.

For businesses, offering remote working practices makes sense. As a start-up, you don’t want to have to worry about expensive overhead such as renting an office space. And when it comes to recruitment, why restrict yourself to talent that lives within commuting distance? If you offer positions remotely, you can search for the best talent anywhere in world.

More and more employees are joining the millions of freelancers and self-employed individuals who already work from home. There are many inherent advantages: no commute for a start. Then there’s the fact you are in your own environment, and can choose wherever in the world you want to live. Not being tied to one geographical location is an incredible enticement for many people.

But before you take the plunge, it’s important to know that working from home can be a challenge. Often, the downsides can be too much for some to cope with. There is obviously a social side to going into a physical office day after day, and many people miss that human interaction. Working from home always involves self-discipline, but not only from a point of view that you must not get distracted from work. It actually can lead to longer hours, and a blurring between the lines of what is work time and what is not.

The fact is, working from home requires finding a delicate balance between your work and personal life. Here are some tips to set about doing this:

Establish clear working hours, and don’t deviate from them.

Your home is your office. That means your computer and accessories are constantly staring at you, so it’s difficult to switch off. In fact, it becomes easy to say, “I’ll do 20 minutes before breakfast.” This is a slippery slope.

Another reason workers who operate from home feel compelled to put in longer hours is because they sense a need to “prove” themselves.

“In many cases, permission to work from home has been given as a special case, and the desire to show the boss that it was the right decision leads to those workers who only infrequently work from home to go way above the accepted norm to deliver something special,” explains Colin Graves, a business writer at DraftBeyond and ResearchPapersUK.

It’s almost inevitable that if working from home is seen as a privilege, then the result will be workers seeking to vindicate that decision.

When working from home, set clear working hours that you stick to. You would if you were in the office, so why would it be any different if you are working from home? And as for the time you save commuting, use it wisely, i.e., to spend with your family or dedicate to yourself. That is not extra work time.

Establish other healthy routines.

An issue that is constantly cited in criticism of working from home is that it is easy to slip into unhealthy practices, such as not leaving the house on cold days, or staying in your pajamas. Not only will these habits eventually lead to productivity issues, they also can affect your physical and mental health.

“It’s really important when you work from home that you establish a routine that sees you get plenty of exercise, fresh air, social interaction, and healthy eating practices. Sleep normally, don’t snack too much (the temptation of the kitchen is real), and build any activities around the rigid ‘work’ hours that you set yourself,” says Kim Travers, an HR practitioner at LastMinuteWriting and Writinity.

Getting out the house and being active is key, especially in those darker winter months when it would be oh, so easy to never change out of your slippers. This is detrimental to your well-being, and so it requires discipline to make sure you get out for a run or a walk before your work starts. It is tempting to use that time you save on commute to sleep more, but that will only make you feel lethargic, and you will be less productive as a result.

Set boundaries with your family.

It can be hard for family members when you are “there” but “not there.” However, this is an important aspect of balancing your work/life activities. Make it clear to loved ones and those you share your house with that from a certain time to another certain time, you are inaccessible. Set these boundaries early, and never blur those lines, because it will only lead to complications.

Set boundaries with your company.

Granted, this may be a little more difficult to do, but understand there are clear rights you have as an employee, and one of those would be to have clearly defined non-work hours that should be respected. So just as you set the times you are unavailable to family, do the same with your business. That way you won’t continue to work late into the evenings, and be hit up with calls and e-mails that are clearly encroaching into personal time.

Establishing an effective working-from-home routine is more difficult than many people think. Consider these challenges, and set clear boundaries. Also, give yourself time to adapt. In doing so, working from home can become a great option for you.

Angela J. Bryant is an established writer and editor at GumEssays and LuckyAssignments. Social media, business, and the job market are her particular areas of expertise. Her sage advice has helped countless people develop and further their careers.

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