For a majority of adults, the Monday morning commute is filled with heavy sighs, bleary eyes, and a large cup of coffee. The drive into work is a time to disconnect—to disengage from the fun of the weekend and prepare to dive into the demands of the job. This transition time helps people recalibrate and keeps the line between work and home life well defined. However, for a growing number of workers, the commute is considerably shorter, which can make the boundaries between life and work less clear. These individuals—part of the increasing number of people who work from home—can find it difficult to balance their work responsibilities with their home life.
The following are seven ways to keep your work and home life separate if you work from home:
Use a time clock.
Part of the appeal of working from home is the ability to set your own hours and finally get away from the time clock. However, the time clock can be a tremendous asset for those trying to maintain a healthy balance between work and home.
It is easy to get bogged down in work, particularly for early stage, home-based businesses. Try using a clock to track how much time you are spending on each project. You should also establish a definitive beginning and end to the work day.
The ability to separate household responsibilities from work becomes extremely important when you’re working at home. Many people incorrectly assume that you can simply drop your work to take care of other things because you work for yourself. To avoid giving in to the pressure and being pulled in different directions, you should establish a list of priorities every day.
- Make a list of things you have to do.
- Determine the urgent/non-urgent items on the list.
- Be brutally honest about the things that you can accomplish in one day.
- Stay flexible. Things will always come up that will shuffle the list.
Make a schedule.
Use a calendar to set up a workable schedule. Include every activity on the schedule (both work and life) to avoid conflict and make it easier to plan. By plotting everything on your calendar, you can work around family responsibilities, account for busy periods of work, and get a better overview of how you are spending your time. There are dozens of digital calendar systems available. However, a simple wall calendar can also suffice to keep track of important activities.
Take care of your health.
The biggest asset you have is your health. One of the most important things you can do to balance your work and home life is to maintain healthy habits. Luckily, this can be easy to do when you work from home. Make exercising part of your daily routine—take a 10-minute walk around the block, go for a run before sitting down at your desk, or go to the gym during your lunch break. Good eating habits are also easier for the home-based entrepreneur. Just be sure to stock your kitchen with healthy snacks and nutritious, easy-to-fix lunches.
Leave work at the end of the day.
Because you are at home, it is easy to half-engage with your family while continuing to work on that “important” project. This attitude, however, is not fair to your family or to your work. At the end of the day, you need to close the door on your work and fully engage with your family. Shut the office door, turn off the computer, and clock out for the evening.
Work smarter, not harder.
There are many apps and high-tech tools available to make your life easier. Take advantage of web-based programs that allow you to work from anywhere, web-conferencing applications that eliminate travel, and file-sharing software that facilitates seamless collaboration and development. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Use the tools that are available to maximize your work efficiency.
Make time for family responsibilities.
One of the best incentives for working at home is the ability to remain involved in family activities and responsibilities. By effectively organizing your schedule, you can attend school performances, field trips, or doctor appointments that you would ordinarily miss while working in an office. Setting your schedule to accommodate these important life events will additionally increase your feelings of job satisfaction.
Working from home has numerous benefits and an equal number of challenges. Successfully navigating the two requires careful planning and diligence. In addition, the relentless pursuit of a healthy balance ensures that the home-based business doesn’t take over (putting the life portion out of place) or that family responsibilities don’t consume the day (putting the work portion in second place).