When working from home exclusively the boundaries between your personal and professional lives start to blur and what once was a haven to escape the daily demands and pressures of the workday, has now become a dual-purposed vicinity. Working from home allows for somewhat more flexibility which can help with home and family demands, yet at the same time, it can put immense pressure and stress on your working capacity. Even if you’re organized, strict and structured, it may still seem difficult to manage your work and home life under one roof, especially during lockdown when the whole family is housebound and priorities have shifted.
So, what exactly is a work life balance and why is it so important?
A work-life balance seems to be the euphoric end goal of all businesses and employees. It’s something which everyone aims to achieve, yet often falls short due to the stressful demands of work, the long hours, always being connected and the digital era we find ourselves a part of. This loose term refers to how employees distribute their time between their personal and professional obligations and often means something different to everyone. For some it may mean strictly working 9am-5pm and nothing more. For others, it may mean checking emails once in the evening and once of the weekend. As with all job functions and different levels of responsibility and seniority, the balance spectrum tends to fluctuate.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is first and foremost so important for your employees’ wellbeing and health, but concurrently, it also has the potential to improve their productivity levels, their morale and ultimately their performance. Employees feel happier, have some down / off time and are not constantly engaged with work pressures and stressors. A happy employee is a healthy employee, so when you’re not overworked and burnt out, you tend to function more efficiently and effectively.
So, how do you achieve a work-life balance?
It’s so hard when you’re bogged down trying to work, got deadlines and emails are popping up constantly, but ultimately, it’s all about prioritization and making a mindful and concerted effort. Achieving this desired work-life balance requires planning, efficient time management, the right communication tools and a good head space. Below are 5 ways to help achieve this well-desired balance:
1. Create a schedule and stick to it
Working from home is ideal for flexibility, but this flexibility can sometimes feel like you need to be on call 24/7, especially if you’re working on a different schedule to that of your team. A great tip to achieving this work-life balance is to create and stick to a schedule. This way your colleagues and managers will know which hours you’re reachable and when you’re logged off to do personal matters. By ensuring you do have that down time, will allow you to recharge your batteries as well as be productive during your working hours. Block out times in your diary when you’re not at your laptop so your team know not to disturb you, the exact same when you’re on a lunch break when working from the office.
2. Create a designated workspace
If possible create a designated working area in your house which is utilised just for work, be it a separate room or the corner of your lounge. This can help create a more productive environment where you’ll be proactive and focused, as opposed to lying on the sofa with your laptop in tow. It’s also really critical to keep one zone in your house as a work-free zone so you know when you’re there, there’s no working, no quickly emailing, no finishing up a task. It can take a lot of discipline to stay away from distractions such as the television or the radio when sat in your working space. Maybe close the doors and let the rest of your family know it is a disruption free zone dedicated to your scheduled working hours. However, on the flipside, it’s also critical to step away from this zone when you finished working and commute (so to speak) to work free zones within your house.
3. Take frequent breaks
The solitude and monotony of working from homecan often get lonely and tiresome. There’s no office banter and chit chat, you’re not getting up as often to go to the coffee machine or to meetings with the team. So, by ensuring you take frequent breaks throughout the day is a must. Be it to make lunch and coffee, to run to the post office, to do a 30-minute run or exercise class, cook dinner, help with the children or do household chores. Don’t try and multitask whilst working. Use working hours for work and personal hours for personal stuff if possible. That way you can really switch off when your day is done. Taking a break is also vital for your eyes and concentration. We’re not wired like robots and need some breathing space in order to carry on, full steam ahead.
4. Make time to unwind
Try creating a buffer space and time between your working hours and your relaxation time. Ever contemplated your journey to and from work be it walking, driving or on a train? It’s time to stop and think, to mentally prepare and plan what’s to come. You’re automatically forced to have this ‘white space’ when having two distinct locations. Try implement the same while working from home, even if it’s for 5 minutes before starting work and winding down after your day is complete. This should be scheduled transitional time, time to debrief and decompress and get into your alternate mindset. By doing this you can achieve a more balanced work-life mediumwhere you’re aware of the distinction between the two.
5. Go off the grid in the evening
As hard as this may be, especially as we’re living in our always connected, fast paced digital era, set some time aside to go off the grid in the evening. Try leaving your designated workspace when you would usually leave the office. This will create a boundary between your personal and professional duties. Turn your laptop off, don’t check you work calls or emails and totally switch off from your working demands. Obviously, this is very difficult as there are stressors and demands which require attention, but even try have an hour or two of off time before bed to calm and switch off your mind.
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