* This is a collaborative post
I've been working from home as a self-employed freelance for a decade now and as many people who had the opportunity to work from home as a remote worker or swap to the freelancer life during lockdown had a taste of what it's like and its positive to see many have made this a more permanent switch. However, working from home isn't always plain sailing and while naturally it can feel chaotic to start with if you don't find a workable way forward it will start to affect your productivity, stress levels, creativity and even relationships.
Of course, there are major benefits to working from home like saving money on petrol as you no longer commute as well as saving you time, time which can be better spent elsewhere. Many workers also note they have great job satisfaction as well as offering a more flexible approach to those juggling roles outside of work such as parenting as remote workers can often be more present for their kids as well as things like the school run.
So what are my main tips for getting a good work-life balance when working from home.
1. Dedicated work space
The most important thing is to take the time to create a dedicated workstation that is separate from your normal living space. Of course, this isn't always possible depending on the size or layout of your home but finding even a small nook you can set up that isn't your bedroom or living room makes for a more defined workspace which can improve productivity. It also means that during your lunch breaks you can move away from your workspace and give yourself some time to recalibrate.
2. Make sure to switch off
Once your working day is done you need to learn how to really switch off otherwise you will feel like you are always "on". Make this clear with your employer or your clients that you are not available after working hours unless it's an emergency. I've found that because I am on social media clients often feel they can get in contact with me at any time of the day, including 8am on a Sunday. Boundaries have to be set.
3. Make use of communication tools
Communication with co-workers, your employers and clients are so important, especially when you are all in different locations working on a collaboration type project or need to make amendments, change deadlines etc. Getting to grips with things like Goggle Calendar, Zoom and Microsoft teams is essential. Another fantastic tool is Blink, an all-in-one frontline employee app that gives access to applications, communications and the right people they need for the job.
4. Eat a proper lunch
I know first-hand how easy it is to skip meals or not eat properly when working from home, it's so easily done especially when you are dealing or are dealing with a packed schedule. You need to prioritise at least 30mins to an hour to take time off for lunch, to make a decent meal and also step away from work for a minute to nourish and recharge yourself, just as you work if you went back to the office (or most working spaces). Here are 10 work from home lunch ideas.
5. Plan post-work activities
To ensure you get the right work life balance you need to prioritise time away from your home, that allows you to completely switch off. These can be small activities such as daily walks with your kids, dog, partner etc, hitting the gym, going for a bike ride, visiting your local library etc to making sure you meet up with friends regularly, go for coffee or a nice meal out. It's important that you get out of the house and to ensure you have some down time after work.
As i've said before, working from home has massive benefits, for me personally it really works but it can take time to find the right balance and sometimes I don't get it right but it's a learning curve. I've also written about how ways to enrich your time at home so do check that out.