Posted on June 1, 2020 at 5:11 PM
Whether you’re working from home (or a coffee shop) part-time or full-time, it can be challenging to achieve work–life balance. While remote workers are often more productive without the distractions of the office, they also tend to let work take over their lives — and that’s neither productive nor healthy. Here are some tips for promoting a good work–life balance as a remote worker.
Have a dedicated workspace
As comfortable as it might be to work from your couch or bed, it’s not ideal for productivity. Plus, it makes you blur the lines between work and the rest of your life. This can get you into a routine where you regularly work later hours or feel like you can’t unplug from work. Don’t underestimate the importance of boundaries in your life.
Create a space in your home that is fully devoted to work. If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, choose a corner of the living room, the end of the dining table, anywhere you can “plug in” for work, then depart at the end of the workday.
Keep a work schedule
If you were going into the office, you’d arrive at a certain time and be there until the workday ends. You’d also likely take lunch and snack breaks. It should be no different when you’re working remotely. Determine your start and end times, schedule your breaks, then stick to the plan.
Don’t answer work emails or calls outside of your working hours. This is good advice for in-office employees as well. Whether you need to set up Do Not Disturb on Slack or simply turn off notifications on your phone, make an effort to keep work out of non-working hours. By the same token, don’t work on personal projects or hobbies in your workspace.
Schedule time for hobbies and self-care
Even if you stick to the schedule, it can still be hard to strike a work–life balance when work is right there next to life. After all, it wouldn’t hurt if you jumped on the computer to do one little thing, would it? The problem is that one thing turns into five things, which turn into ten things. The key is to fill the rest of your day with activities that promote your overall well-being. And if you’re trying to get a side hustle running or write a book, schedule time for that too.
Try the block scheduling system, in which you devote 1- to 3-hour blocks of your day to certain tasks. Group similar tasks together so that you’re not shifting gears a lot, and only work on the tasks that you’ve assigned to a given block. This concept provides the urgency you need to get your tasks done more effectively and not end up with unfinished tasks at the end of the day.
Separate your digital workspace
As mentioned above, it’s important to confine work to a limited physical area. However, you should also separate your digital life from work. If you’re lucky enough to have a separate work computer and phone, this should be easy. Just be sure that work emails aren’t also going to your personal device.
If you have to share devices for work and personal tasks, try creating separate accounts on your computer so that work apps such as Skype or Upwork don’t appear on your personal space, and vice versa. Access your work and personal emails in separate apps, and turn off notifications for the work messages after the workday is complete.
Take lots of breaks
Even with all these best practices in mind, it’s still easy to overwork when you’re working remotely. Those distracting coworkers are actually doing something important: they’re forcing you to take a break. Without their presence, it’s easier than you might think to slog away for hours and hours.
Try using the Pomodoro technique. In this method, you work for a focused period called a Pomo — usually 25 to 45 minutes — then take a 5-minute break. After two to four Pomos, you get a longer break of 15 minutes. This structure helps you achieve greater productivity and also forces you to get up and take breaks.
Ultimately, a good work–life balance is about building structure into your day. For in-office workers, this happens naturally as you move to and from your office and take part in a dedicated work environment. When your work environment isn’t structured, your work can bleed into the rest of your life. Try implementing these systems and tactics to promote a good work–life balance while working remotely. You’ll find that you are happier, healthier, and more productive.