Are you a telecommuter? Do you work from home? How easy do you find it? Are you a productivity ninja nailing it every day or do you get sidetracked by everything, struggle to get going and literally work to a deadline of picking the children up from school at 3.30?
With 70% of the global population now working from home at least one day a week it’s vital to manage your work-life balance that can easily be compromised when you are working from home. Studies have found that employees and the self-employed who work from home have increased levels of productivity and are happier. It lowers stress and boosts morale, it’s a working practice that relies on trust and many employers report having more engaged and happier employees.
For parents working from home, flexibility is the holy grail that many strive to have. It’s the answer to many childcare dilemmas to have the flexibility to work from home while being around for the school pick-ups. But is the grass really greener on the other side and how easy is it to work from home?
In the office, other people distract you, but at home, it’s you and your environment that will be your biggest distractions. Managing boundaries to avoid home and work blurring is the hardest part of working from home. Especially with the amount of ways to be connected now, it’s much harder to disconnect when you are working from home.
Here are our top tips for managing your work-life balance when working from home
Set specific boundaries about where and when you work. It’s so much easier to leave work in the office than when you are at home as you can just check that email or log in quickly or work in the evening. Know when the end of the day is and when the job is done.
Have a place you work, a designated workspace table, desk or office and if you know you need to make calls and have conference calls plan them in advance and make sure you tell anyone else in the house when you will be doing them (remember the BBC interviewee whose children gatecrashed his news report!) Just because you are at home it doesn’t mean you are available!
Make your working environment a nice place to be, it’s hard to do your best work and focus on work if you are cold or your desk is a mess and you are distracted by a pile of paperwork.
Think about when you start work, for some people starting to work straight away as soon as they wake up works well, you can then make a start on your to do list straight away.
Dress for the office not for bed. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have of home workers is that they wear their pyjamas all day… anyone that does work from home will tell you this is not the case! What you are wearing plays an important part of your mindset so when you dress for success it focuses the mind in that direction.
Pretend you are going to the office, even if it’s a mental commute, or maybe treat the school run as your commute where you plan the top 3 things you want to achieve in your day.
Think about planning your day around your energy and when you know you can do your best work, if you know you are most creative in the morning plan your creative work then. Set your harder tasks for when you are most productive. Some people save all their calls for the afternoon so they can focus on the tasks that require more thought in the morning.
Try not to go down the rabbit holes of the internet and get distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Messenger. Turn off notifications on your phone and check them when it suits you rather than when your phone tells you.
Consider a co-worker space or café if you are finding it hard to work from home. Quite often just focusing the mind in a new place will help with productivity and deadlines. Plus, the background noise can emulate an office environment and it also removes you from the distractions of being at home.
Working at home can be lonely so it’s vital for your wellbeing and mental health to get out and meet other people face to face rather than just in a virtual world online. It’s a great way to meet new people and have an accountability work buddy or even pick up new inspiring ways to make working at home better.
Set mini deadlines with rewards and look forward to the coffee break like you would in an office. Home rituals are just as important to help keep you motivated and on track. Make time for breaks and lunch (but don’t graze constantly in the kitchen!) Don’t feel guilty for taking a break no one expects you to be working 100% of the time and having a break going for a walk or run recharges your brain.
Manage expectations of friends and family, when you work from home it’s like you are open season for coffee and people just often don’t believe that you are working! Tell the children what you are doing and when you will be finished, have some strategic snacks for them! If it’s school holidays then see our article on working from home in the holidays
Remember the world won’t end when you close your laptop at the end of the day! Let us know what your top tips are for working from home!