The recent global pandemic has resulted in many of us now working from home. For some this has been the norm for years, while for others it’s a brand new experience. And like most things in life, there are best practices to employ to make the most of this situation. In this article, we share 6 ways to achieve work-life balance at home.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
The topic of work-life balance became common in the late 1900s as various forces drove longer hours and work-related stress for all employees. Add to that the advent of technologies like the internet and cellular communication where we could, for the first time in human history, connect with people anywhere at any time. These are the ingredients for imbalance in our lives.
We can argue whether the label ‘work-life balance’ is correct or not. It implies that work is not life and life is not work, and that somehow they are at odds with each other. There is the argument that they are in perfect balance because their work is their life, and they wouldn’t want it any other way. However, for most of us, we need to find ways to apportion our time and energy to the various facets of our lives—career, family, health, social, and spirit.
6 Ways to Separate Work and Home Life While Working From Home
1. Structuring your time and space
Recent studies show that as much as it sounds noble to be a ‘multi-tasker’, human beings are more productive when they can focus on one task at a time. This means being deliberate about structuring your day and setting appointments with yourself for high priority tasks and projects. This is achieved through the simple tool we all have – our calendars.
Scheduling is one thing, but we also need barriers to distraction. This includes a variety of techniques including finding, if possible, a dedicated and isolated workspace in the home, and limiting or even eliminating distractions from notifications of every sort – phone calls, email and text notifications, cycling thoughts (internal), or other family members.
2. Make technology your slave, not vice versa
Technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can make us highly productive, giving us instant access to key information and a variety of tools to create, problem-solve, and communicate. However, this same technology, used without discipline, has immense potential to steal our productivity. Distraction by social media, web-surfing, or low importance communication can cause us to lose hours in our week. Look for ways to ensure that technology serves your work at all times.
One way to do this is to use a timer and a log of each day’s activities. It becomes clear very quickly where and how time is being allocated.
3. Switching it off
Traditionally, our home is a place for rest and recovery. We are the first generation to experience the invasion of work into our homes. Even our devices now – cell phones, tablets, and computers – serve both our work and personal lives.
Due to this, we have to be so much more disciplined about ‘switching off’ work. If we have a home office or workspace, we need to physically move away from that space at the end of work hours. Similarly, we need to close work-related channels and applications, and mute notifications on our devices when we are not in ‘work mode.’
4. Maintain human contact
We are not machines, able to convert inputs into outputs endlessly. Some level of human contact is a key ingredient for us to feel centered and well. Some of this can be achieved through video meetings, but even those platforms are proving to be inferior to real, in-person human connection.
Have a discussion with your manager and teammates, and consider adjusting your team huddles and meeting rhythms. It can be easy to feel isolated and ‘out of the loop’ when working from home, and it’s best to err on the side of overcommunication.
Further, within the prescribed guidelines for social-distancing in your jurisdiction, be sure to connect with others as much as possible. That includes family members, friends, and neighbors.
5. House rules
Most of us live with family members or roommates. This is particularly challenging for parents with younger children who may need constant supervision.
It’s imperative to have an open and honest discussion about the ‘work from home’ rules. This could include scheduling alternating work hours with other family members, agreeing to focus hours for everyone in the home, or just being overly respectful of each other’s physical space and ‘headspace.’
6. Stay healthy
Much has been written about the facets of human health: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, etc. All of these need monitoring, work, and attention. Our recent speaker at our Unleashed Leadership Series Amber Mac (@AmberMac) placed Prioritize Health at the foundation of her model for Relentless Adaptation during COVID-19.
Simply stated, without our health, we can’t serve our business, family, and community.
Next Steps to Achieve Work-Life Balance
Working from home can have great advantages if done well. It requires good structures and disciplines to unleash that potential and get the most out of this new reality.
What other practices or ideas have you implemented to get the most out of working from home?
If you or your company is seeking guidance during this transition, please contact us for more information.