Going to work daily has shifted. I, myself, am completely remote and my office is my home… or my home is my office…
And therein lies the rub for many these days. Keeping a good work+life balance if your work is your home and your home is your work is difficult. Or can be. Even as many have returned to the venerable office building, the need to maintain a positive and self-caring work+life balance never changes. It’s probably more vital than ever, which we think is a good thing.
Giving to yourself in all the ways that make it possible for you to wake up in the morning and face the work day then turn your focus to embracing your personal life with joy and contentment has a beautiful, magical purpose. It helps us relax, feel good about what we do in our lives, and allows us the opportunity to walk our path in more balance.
How do we do that, exactly? How do we balance this work with our life and our life with our work with a clear, open heart that fulfills us on both sides?
We have some thoughts and would really like to share them with you. In order to give you what we believe are the most benefits from these tiny bits of advice, we’ve split this into two distinct parts: balancing work+life when you work from home, and balancing your work+life when you go into the office daily. We have three of our favorite ideas for each and hope against hope they help you as much as they continue to help us.
Working from Home Tip 1: Create a True Work Space
There are a couple of reasons for this: first, you can easily become distracted by the personal things in the different spaces in your home if you don’t and, second, no place in your house is sacred and truly separate from your work when you use basically any and every room to conduct business.
Set up an uncluttered area for your work. Make it as close to an office as you can get away with by adding a good work chair, your tools of whatever your trade is, and a reliable power and light source. This is where you do your work and when it’s time to end the day, you can walk away and live your life.
A quick note: if your business requires you to travel frequently, the same holds true. Create a reliable “office” space for yourself, whatever your accommodations are. Going on the road comes with its own challenges and being intentional about establishing a work space and a home space wherever you go is a true gift to your well-being.
Working from Home Tip 2: Schedule and TAKE Your Breaks
Literally, put 15 minute and lunch breaks on your calendar and TAKE THEM. Working from home becomes pretty comfortable and easy to dig in and focus wholly and completely. Sure, we may walk around, do little non-work things here and there, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving ourselves actual breathing room. Take a real lunch, give yourself a true break. Just as you would in your business’ office — if you aren’t a freelancer — put these on your calendar, set reminders, and create notifications to let coworkers know you are unavailable during those times. It is vital that you give yourself relief from the head down at your “desk” focus, no matter where that is.
Take a walk, do some yoga or workout, meditate, indulge in nature — whatever you like to do when taking a breather — and eat lunch, whether it’s going out somewhere or having a sandwich at your dining table, on your porch, or wherever your heart takes you (just not in your workspace, right? okay? Good.). Being in the comfort of your own home for work is no excuse for giving yourself the respite you need during your work day as you would if you were in an office building.
Working from Home Tip 3: Set a Work Schedule and Stick to It
As mentioned, there are quite a few distractions in our home that can make our workday longer than it needs to be. Not only that, but if you share your house with someone or someones, setting boundaries of when you are and are not available to them helps you keep your focus, manage your time more closely, and get your work done with less stress.
Simply create your hours, post them for all to see, and manage expectations of when you are available for personal projects or responsibilities, whether your own or that of others. This will help you feel more in control, alleviate tension and stress for yourself and in your relationships, and help you keep on track.
Working from Work Tip 1: Leave Your Desk, Eat Lunch, MOVE!
It is one of those things that happens too often — when we are at our desk, we tend to sit there and not move. There’s something about being in our actual office space in our place of business that seems to confine us. We get caught up in whatever work we are doing and just stick with it, never moving unless it’s to go to the bathroom. Many of us don’t even stop for lunch. That is incredibly stressful.
Get up from your desk, walk away, visit with one of your coworkers, get some air, do desk yoga — basically, leave your work space and give yourself a chance to take some deep breaths to clear your mind and stretch out. When we sit too long, our shoulders hunch, we tighten up, and we don’t even know it. By the end of the day, our tension level is so high, we feel it in our body and our work+life balance goes right out the window.
If you are deep in a project and can’t walk away — and believe us, rolling your chair away to do 5 minutes of desk yoga is plenty of time to give yourself a break — try this: close your eyes, slow your breathing, and do a body scan from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Recognize the sensations in your hands, fingers, everywhere, and allow yourself to relax every inch of yourself with each breath, bit by bit. It just takes a few minutes and you’ll go back to your work more focused, wonderfully refreshed, and calm.
Working from Work Tip 2: Take Your PTO
As soon as you can take Personal Time Off or PTO, take it. You’ve earned it, it’s yours, and you deserve it. Vacations don’t have to be packing up, traveling the world, and engaging in serious adventure or activities to make them matter. Chilling out at home and unplugging from work are what these days are for. It alleviates burnout and helps you regroup and simply relax.
We all need to take a break, longer than the lunch and 15 minutes we may give ourselves during the day, more than just the weekends. Let’s be honest, many of our weekends get packed with all we were unable to accomplish during the week and we sometimes feel like we never even took one when Monday comes.
You work hard. Enjoy the vacation days you have accrued. They are there for you to use. And trust us — taking a day here, or a couple of days there, is far more beneficial than hoarding them up like cash in your mattress and never using them.
Working from Work Tip 3: Discover Your Work Family
Full disclosure: Working remotely suits me very well because I’m definitely a loner. But back when I did work in an office, even I, in all my solitary splendor, couldn’t do without establishing close connections in my workplace. It’s an incredible stress reliever to have someone you can laugh with about shared office experiences, find common interests to kibitz about and even engage in, and collaborate with. Not only is it a way to relieve tension, but it’s an emotional boost to know you have a friend there in the trenches with you, that they have your back just as you have theirs. Facing even the worst day is easier when you know you have someone in your work environment who gets you, and it makes you feel of value when you can be there for them.
Enjoying your work while living your life
Regardless of the space you occupy when earning a living, keeping yourself centered and finding ways to relieve the stress in the middle of your day and having the ability to pull yourself completely away to enjoy your life is not just desired but essential for your well-being.
Take care of yourself, no matter what the situation. When you’re at work, embrace the joy that comes from doing what you do, for sure. But when your business day is done…
Walk away, take delight in your home, your personal life, and enjoy those beautiful moments that make what you do for a living worth your very precious time.