I have now been working from home part-time for nearly three year. And the one thing that became apparently nearly straightaway was that, when working from home, sometimes it can become difficult to separate your personal life from your work life.
So, how to strike the right balance? Well, I have looked into this, and experimented with different methods. I have re-organised my work practices and methods, and I have finally come up with a list of best work-life balance ideas, which today I am going to share with you.
That Grey Area
You wake up really early morning, because you have a fairly long to-do list on your work schedule. You put yourself at work straightaway, before the children and your partner wake up, so you can get done as much as possible ahead of the morning school run rush.
Then, family now awake, you give yourself a break to see to the children off to school.
You come back and put your head down until the dog starts scratching at your leg, wanting his morning walk.
You take another break for the dog walk, but as soon as you are back at home, you put yourself back at work.
And you don’t stop until the late hours of the evening, and carry on writing, posting on social media and answering your messages and your emails, whilst seeing to the dinner preparation at the same time, or whilst loading the washing machine, or making sure the kids do their homework in the afternoon.
Do you get the jist of it?
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Don’t get me wrong, this is more so common when you are at the very beginnings of setting up your business.
But, because of the need of establishing yourself at the forefront of your business, and to making your brand known, you need to be available virtually 24/7.
What this means is that often we can easily forget to stop. Before we know it, we don’t realise that, not only we end up working 7 days a week, but we also never stop thinking about work: what the next step is going to be, how I am going to articulate that post, how I am going to set up that video, and make sure you don’t forget to get back to that potential customer.
You can easily see, therefore, how that thin line between work and personal life ends up becoming thinner and thinner. Till it completely disappear.
My Day Working From Home
I decided to write this article today, of all days, after I looked back at my Sunday mornings.
I am normally an early bird – I do like to wake up early naturally.
Last Sunday for instance started just before 6am, when I get out of the bed. I prepared breakfast for the dog, loaded the dishwasher and the washing machine, took half hour for breakfast and to watch the latest news, and then got to work.
I didn’t stop working till 1pm. By then, with half hour break for my morning ablutions, I had worked on my online business, done some ironing and put lunch together, and I was finally exhausted.
Now, you will call me a wimp. Fair enough.
But it’s also true that by lunchtime I had worked a 7-hour shift in the same way as if had been at work on a 9-5 job.
And the day was only half-way through.
When you start working this early, you cannot have the expectation to keep going until late at night, as sooner or later tiredness and over exhaustion will catch up with you.
This can result in tension headaches, stress, anxiety, lack of sleep due to brain overload, and more.
Find out here how I keep my tension headaches and migraines at bay, and how I manage my anxiety and stress levels to an all time low.
Soon enough, no matter how many hours you put on working on your business, you will start becoming unproductive. You will soon start lacking ideas to move your business forward. And your family will start finding you unbearable to deal with!
The main thing is that you will start feeling unwell. And, as we all know, we are no use to anyone, including ourselves, if we make ourselves ill, albeit unintentionally.
My Best 10 Tips For A Healthy Work-Life Balance
This is where you need to start putting in place some rules to go by, which will avoid you falling into the trap of working at all hours of the day and week.
Something has to give in. Something, in my work-life balance indeed had to give in, as I for once started experiencing insomnia, anxiety and the dreaded tension headache, which can last for days on end.
So, I did revisit my weekly routine, particularly when I was working from home, and have come up with a plan of action, which I am sure will help any work-from-home wannabe entrepreneur.
1. Find Your Most Productive Times Of The Day
Do you work better in the morning, or are you a night owl? Try taking advantage of your best times of the day, when you know you can work better and faster. Just be mindful, however, especially if you work part-time for an external employer, that you cannot demand of yourself to work during the night, to then go to your 9-5 job during the day. You will need to balance your external commitments equally skillfully.
2. Set Specific Working Hours
In a previous article on planning home based day work, I already advised setting some specific working hours, where you ask your family not to be disturbed. This can be done by talking to your family and making them understand that you need not to be disturbed during those set times, as otherwise you cannot work.
Likewise, however, during those set times you should refrain from answering the phone, or the postman, or the neighbour coming to say hello as they saw the car in your drive. In other words, unless emergency, you should become stricter with yourself in dealing solely with work related communication during those working hours.
3. Have Some Me Time
We all need some me time. And literally, it should be some time you set aside, possibly every day, to do whatever you fancy, whatever relaxes you, and ultimately whatever you don’t feel you have to do as a chore.
For instance, I hate cooking. Therefore I do not consider putting dinner together as a relaxing activity. Others love baking, and on the other hand they may want to take some time off their work routine to put together some lovely cakes.
Don’t get me wrong, cutting out some me time out of your daily routine is not often as easy as it sounds. But, so long as you are aware that you will need to have some time solely for yourself, and so long as you make a conscious effort to find some time – even only half an hour – you are on the right track.
4. Draw Up A To-Do List
It is always a good practice to draw up a to-do list of work related tasks to do, as well as family or house related chores. It will make it easier for you to keep organisation in your busy day. As you complete a task, you tick it off.
This will also give you a sense of achievement, and will help you keep track of what you have done, so that it will be easier to match future feedback to previous work.
5. Make Your Life Easier
Instead of agreeing to meet up with your potential clients, try cutting times and propose to use Skype or Facetime.
Likewise, do not make yourself available to colleagues and work friends at any time – not unless you are working on a joint project with a close deadline.
What you might want to consider, on the other hand, is to create online virtual meetings, just as if you were in an office. So you can draw a diary of appointments, which will help you find out what remaining time of your day you have available to work on your to-do list.
6. Choose A Business Which You Are Passionate About
I have said this over and over, and you are probably sick to death to hear it again. But I am saying this because I found it to be ever so true. Try to find a project or a product that you truly believe in.
If you work on a niche that you are truly passionate about, your work will become little different from just pursuing your hobby. Your work-at-home day will become much more pleasant, therefore, and will be less of a job instead.
I am passionate about making money working from home. Let me tell you how I did it:
7. Fresh Air And Exercise
I am the laziest person on earth when it comes to exercise. But even I recognise that a bit of fresh air does wonders for me. I am so lazy, that sometimes I find it an added chore to have to take the dog for a walk. Yet, once I am out with my dog, I find that walk (brisker when my dog was younger) allows me to switch off, and to enable my mind to just unwind and to completely relax.
Or, sometimes, it is during that walk that I get the best ideas for my next article or on how to move my business forward. It’s all down to that game of endorphins and chemical reactions within your body, which just make you happy.
8. Be Realistic
It’s good to have goals. It’s very good to have dreams. But sometimes it’s extremely good for your well-being to take a step back and re-evaluate your situation.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with aiming high, it’s also helpful to give yourself realistic small goals at a time.
Not only the smaller targets are easier to reach, hence more realistic. But as you reach your targets, one step at a time, you then start savouring that sense of achievement more frequently. And that’s where your endorphins kick in again.
Work out your strengths, the time you can realistically dedicate to your business and weigh up all external factors before committing yourself to something, which in the long run might prove too difficult to achieve. This will only lead to you feeling let down, frustrated and annoyed with yourself. Ultimately you might end up loosing your confidence and fall in to depression. And none of these feelings are going to help, are they!
9. Work On Your Self-Belief
Working from home is not always plain sail. Nor is it when you work externally for an employer. But when things don’t go the right way in your own personal business, sometimes we can take matters a bit too much to heart. And before we know it, we start questioning our abilities, our judgment.
When that happens, it is always good to take a step back and just look at how much we have achieved so far. Financial achievements are always important, don’t get me wrong. But you might also look at how much you have learned so far, from technological aspects of your business to increased business acumen. I am sure at any time of your home based career there will always be much for you to congratulate yourself for.
10. Reward Yourself
Finally, just like when working for an employer, allow yourself some time off. Take some holidays every so often, where you literally go away and do not look at your social media accounts for nothing else, other than personal posts.
Or reward yourself by taking a day off every so often. Take yourself shopping or the cinema. Do whatever you like. So long as you give yourself a break.
My Newly Found Work-Life Balance
As I mentioned, I myself have had to take a step back and take a breather. Whenever my business take momentum, that’s when I don’t want to stop, for fear of missing opportunities. And I keep going, more and more and more.
Until, exhaustion kicks in. Which then results with days when I can barely reach out to my tablet to check out my emails, let along working in a constructing and proactive way!
So, here I am, bursting that bubble again.
When working from home, and especially when setting up a new business or starting working on a new project, you don’t get to work any less than when working for an employer.
But, the beauty of working from home and for yourself, is that you can manage your workload. Work when you feel like. Manage your work as you please.
And that’s where you are going to achieve the perfect work-life balance. In going with your flow, rather than with others.
Because remember, nothing will compare to the sense of fulfillment working to your own pace and achieving on your own goals is going to give you.
Becoming successful working from home is not a matter of ‘if’. It’s a matter of ‘when’. Make it happen in a happy way.
So, how do you manage your workload when working from home? Do you still allow external factors and/or people to disrupt your carefully planned daily work routine? Do you work long hours and then allow yourself a break, or do you work short hours with small breaks in between?
By all means, share your coping techniques with us, so we can all find that perfect happy balance. Leave your comment below.
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