Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, you’re free to work in a comfortable environment without all of the hassles associated with an office or store. On the other hand, you’re constantly deluged by all of those distractions that come with being around the house. To make matters worse, without a clear separation between “work” and “home” you may find the two encroaching into each other’s territory. Is it possible to find a good work-life balance when you work from home?
Working from Home
There are a few different reasons you might be working from home.
It’s possible that you telecommute for your job, occasionally attending meetings in person but doing the majority of your work from a home office. You also might run your own home-based business, being your own boss and saving money by cutting the cost of office space.
Regardless of why you’re working at home, other people probably think you’re “living the dream.” You know firsthand just how much of a nightmare that dream can be, though; it can be isolating, it can be difficult and if you’re not careful it can lead to an “always on” mentality where you’re never really off the clock.
A Time for Work, A Time for Play
One of the big problems for work-life balance that comes with working from home is the lack of separation between your home life and your work life.
Your office and work assets are always there, waiting for you to jump right back in. It’s likely that the computer you use to surf the Internet and check your email is the same one that you use for work. You may feel like you’re surrounded by your work life at all times, and that’s not good. If you want a good work-life balance, you’re going to have to separate the two aspects of your life even though they both take place in the same general space.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to establish “office hours” where you focus on your work exclusively. This may mean closing the door to your office and posting a sign to remind friends or family that you’re working, but during those hours you should be focused on getting your work done.
Once your “work time” is over, then it’s just the opposite; close the office door and leave it all behind. Feel free to split up your office time into several smaller blocks throughout the day, but make sure that you put a definite separation between when you’re on the clock and when you’re off.
Get Away from the House
Another way that you can improve your work-life balance when working from home is to be sure to get out of the house on your time off. Go out to a favorite restaurant, spend time with family or friends at the park or go for a drive in the countryside. It’s your time off of work, and getting out of the house and doing something will really help you to establish that separation between work and life. This is especially important early on, since the temptation might be strong to pop in and get a little bit more work done if you’re bored around the house.
Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean you’ve got to spend all of your free time away from the house. Just make sure that you don’t stay tethered to home, especially for reasons related to work. It’s good to get out and do things that you enjoy, and getting out every now and then may also help to replace some of the more social aspects of working in an office or store.
Build a Schedule
Making a schedule is important when working from home. We’ve talked a lot about work taking over your personal life when working from home, but the opposite can happen as well. A number of distractions around the house promise activities that are more fun than whatever you do for a living, and it’s easy to become sidetracked if you’re not careful.
Be sure to establish a schedule of when you’re supposed to work, set goals and stick to them. Working from home is only successful when you’re actually getting work done, and a good work-life balance is necessary to make that happen.