Since the beginning of the pandemic many of us have been working from home. Some people may be returning to the office now (or other workplace) however for many people there may be a much more long term home working arrangement, even if just on a part time basis (which is what my office is doing).
Whilst working from home definitely has its perks it can sometimes be difficult to separate work-life from home-life, leaving you either working more hours than you should or not fully relaxing at the end of the day when it should be your time to spend with family, friends or just getting on with home life in general. Working from home can mean that the same place where you should be relaxing, eating, socialising (generally just living) becomes associated with work. If you always feel like you have to be busy even when you really just need to relax then perhaps you need to create a better work-life balance for yourself.
It isn’t just about making sure you can relax post-work, but an effective work-life balance can help you start off your working day better and be more focussed on work as well as happier.
Why it is important to separate work-life from home-life
Working from home can easily blur the lines between work-mode and home-mode. This means it can be difficult to find the motivation to work during what should be work-time or switch off from work when it shouldn’t be work-time. Neither option is beneficial for your self-care and can result in burnout from always being ‘switched on’, poor sleep, and higher levels of stress which can cause all sorts of problems.
Being switched on all the time can often mean we put ‘achieving things’ and being busy all the time first and self-care gets de-prioritised. Therefore separating these two different aspects of our lives can enable us to relax better, sleep better and live happier and healthier lives. Let work time be work time and you-time be for you.
Practical tips for developing and maintaining a work-life balance
- Walk to work. I don’t just mean walking from the bedroom to the desk! Get yourself dressed and start the day with a walk. Even a short one just 5-10 minutes up and down the street before you start work can help you to feel refreshed, gather your thoughts and separate your home-life in the morning to the start of your working day. If you have time then a long walk is also great! You can read more about walking for wellbeing on Zara’s blog post here.
- Write daily intentions. Writing daily intentions and having them in view for the day can help you stay focussed on what you want to achieve during your time that day. This isn’t a to-do list, but rather a short list of how you intend to ‘be’ during the day. An example of this could be ‘I intend to stay focussed and free from distractions’ and ‘I intend to be kind to myself as well as to others’.
- Be strict with your time. It is precious after all. If you are meant to be working a 7.5 hour day then if you start at 8:30, have a 30 minute lunch break, then you should finish at 4:30. It is so easy (and efficient) to continue working until the current job is done but keep an eye on how often you end up working extra time – over the course of a week just 30 minutes extra per day is an extra 2.5 hours which doesn’t sound like much but think of all the wonderful things you could be doing with that time.
- Create a schedule and set boundaries. Creating and sticking to a schedule can help you be more productive with your time and helps ensure you take enough breaks throughout the day to still be able to work in the afternoon without a big mid-afternoon slump. Try your best to finish your day and switch off your computer at that time at the time you have set. At the end of the working day tidy up your workspace so it is nice for the next day.
- Separate your work space from your home space. Working from the sofa (or your bed) may be super comfy and snug but it sends some serious mixed signals to your brain. When you are in bed your brain should be thinking ‘sleep’ and when you are on the sofa your brain should be thinking ‘relaxation’. This means that when you are on the sofa during work time your brain is naturally thinking that it is time to relax now and you may be less productive, or when you are on the sofa at the end of the day you may have been working from it all day and your brain can’t quite accept that it is time to switch off from work now. Try to create separate spaces for home life and work life, even if the spaces are small. I also use aromatherapy to distinguish work-time from home-time. I have two mini NEOM wellbeing pods and I use an energising aromatherapy blend during work time and one of the blissful scents for non-work-time. The key here is to always use the same one for work time so your brain understands that it is work time now and then use the same one (or several ones) for home-time.
- Walk home from work. Just like tip number one! It is about creating an end of day ritual to signal to your brain that work is over. When you have finished working, switch off your computer and tidy up your work-space, put some shoes on and go for a walk. A long walk is great but for this purpose a short one will do! When you get home from your walk it is now your time to do your own thing.
Share your tips! How have you created a healthy and happy work-life balance? What have you found most difficult?
Until next time