Do you work in a field or for a company that makes it hard for you to detach yourself from work and enjoy a life separate from your professional self?
It is more essential than ever to tend to your personal needs with as much diligence and focus as you do your employer’s needs.
While I have found that I have a lot of experience in building a career while working at home, I admit that I sometimes stumble in engaging in my passions and interests outside of work.
I wrote this post just as much for you as I did for myself to show us both how to optimize our time, care for our loved ones, tap into passion and several other small steps to change your life.
Are you ready to learn more about changing your work-life balance to enjoy more satisfaction in your professional and personal lives?
1. Accept an Imperfect Balance
Because you work in the same environment where you sleep and relax, you must learn to accept having an imperfect work-life balance. Just as your personal schedule may cause you to miss work in a traditional office work setting to make doctor appointments or tend to personal obligations, you can expect some days to be more about work and other days where you focus on taking care of personal matters. Rather than a perfect balance, concentrate on having a realistic balance. True equilibrium comes over time, not minute by minute.
To get as close to immaculate as possible, give yourself the freedom and space to adjust your work schedule according to what you have on your plate. Specifically, carve time out of your schedule to determine where you must direct your energy the most on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. This way, you know what lies on the road ahead and how to arrange your personal schedule around your work schedule and vice versa.
2. Refuse To Let Your Occupation Define You
While you may place a lot of pride in your work and your work performance, you are so much more than what you do to earn a living. Putting an overabundance of importance on your profession can leave you feeling unsatisfied and disappointed when you do not perform as well as you would like or fail to achieve your professional goals. You can balance out a bad day at work by cooking a great dinner or strengthening your relationship with your spouse, significant other, relatives or friends.
Another reason to step outside of your professional identity while off the clock is so you can feel more fulfilled in your life. Most older adults wish they had spent more time enjoying life and less time working. This does not mean slacking during work hours. Instead, it means exploring who you are outside of your career.
What are you passionate about other than your professional interests? What dreams have you left deferred while you cultivated your professional identity? If you were to lose your job tomorrow, how would you find joy, fulfillment and satisfaction in your life in the days ahead? Answering these questions can start you down the path to learning what is most important to you.
3. Let Your Health Take Priority
If you allow your health to fall by the wayside, you cannot expect to work at your highest potential. That includes your mental, physical and emotional health. Either your personal or professional life may cause you to experience depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, which can loom over you like a heavy cloud in and out of your home office.
You must allow yourself space every day to tune in to your body and see what it has to say. There is no shame in speaking with a therapist if you experience mental health struggles. Seeking professional help allows you to be the best version of yourself that you can be, professionally and personally.
When you feel fatigued, burnt out or stuck, step away from your work and engage in some self-care. Seeing a physician for a routine physical lets you know whether you need to change your lifestyle to experience better physical health, which can help improve your mental health, too.
Outside of the doctor’s and therapist’s office, try to eat healthy, get in exercise when you can and engage in your favorite hobbies. Making taking care of yourself a daily practice.
4. Take Time To Unplug and Unwind
If you have not already realized it, working from home makes it difficult to stop working and disengage from your computer, phone and anything else you use to get work done. It is all too easy to sit at the computer (or use your phone) for “just a few more minutes” to get some work done. You do yourself a disservice by never unplugging from work, as your mind needs periods where it is not constantly stimulated.
Make a conscious effort to leave work behind when you finish the workday. Additionally, you may have to unplug from the outside world entirely if you spend just as much time fielding phone notifications, personal emails and text messages from friends and family as you do working.
Staying constantly connected to social media and the news can feel like a second job and drain your mental reserves. Set up your phone so that you do not receive any notifications, phone calls or text messages during certain hours of the day, such as while working and a couple of hours after. Most phones make it easy for emergency calls to come through so that you do not miss them.
5. Create Boundaries and Specific Work Hours
Do you have remote co-workers or a boss? If so, create personal boundaries for yourself and boundaries for your boss and co-workers. Decide when you stop responding to work emails or taking calls from people you work with. You may have an easier time with this if you have a separate work phone and work computer. If this is not an option, consider using a different email address for work that you only use during business hours. Let your boss and co-workers know that if they contact you outside of work hours, they should not expect a response until the next weekday.
Speaking of work hours, arrange yours around the hours when you feel the most productive during the day. You may work better during the evening and at night as opposed to during traditional 9 to 5 hours. Do what you feel is best for you, if your employer lets you work outside of standard hours. You may even prefer to work 9 to 3. Whatever your hours, share them with your co-workers so they can arrange their schedules around yours.
6. Limit the Amount of Time You Spend on Social Media
To break up the tedium of work, you may scroll through your social media feed. Your job may even require you to engage with customers, clients or your target audience online. Either way, do not let social media take up too much time in your day, as what feels like 10 minutes of engagement can turn into 20 minutes of wasted time. Try to schedule time for interacting on social media platforms rather than indulging in the compulsion whenever it arises throughout the day.
Another reason to limit the amount of time spent on social media is so you can devote more time and energy to different types of interactions with friends and family. Anyone with a social media feed full of political or pointless posts may already experience the mind-numbing effects of spending too much time online. Digital detoxifying is essential for your mental health, as your mind needs a break from the endless onslaught of stimulation embedded into many social media platforms.
7. Set Goals for Yourself
One ideal way to find balance between your work life and your personal life is to set goals for yourself. That way, you have a target to aim your energy at and a way to gauge your overall productivity. Any goal you set should be realistic, and it may help if you break your objectives down into daily, weekly and monthly categories.
When setting goals, schedule tasks around times when you feel productive and not-so-productive. For instance, if you find it easier to work in the morning, leave most of the heavy lifting for the first half of the day while setting simple, less-intensive tasks such as responding to emails for later in the day.
Once you set a goal, do not be afraid to adjust it as you need to. Something could come up during the day that puts you behind schedule, so leave room in your goals for adjustment.
Do you feel you have a better understanding of how to change your work-life balance for the better? Have you implemented any of the above tips already? Be sure to subscribe to my blog for more useful tips and insights on working from home.