If your company has started conforming to widespread work-from-home policies in the wake of the pandemic, you’re probably just now settling in to this new reality and navigating the waters of a remote-work lifestyle. At first, you’ll notice yourself taking on new challenges: how to stay productive, how to collaborate remotely; but here’s something we don’t talk about as often — how to strike a healthy work-life balance.
When the spaces we use to decompress and entertain become the same place we’re hitting the daily grind, the lines between work and play can easily become blurred. And while everyone’s ideal work-life balance looks a little different, there are definite steps you can take to make sure your work stress stays *at work* (even if you’re at home.) At Planted, we work fully-remote with a distributed team, so we like to consider ourselves WFH-pros. Read on for our tips on achieving a healthy work-life balance when you’re working from home.
1. Set a Structured Work Schedule
One of the main keys to success when working remotely is establishing structure. After all, what you accomplish and when is largely up to your own drive for productivity. And while some of us can find it more challenging to be productive at home, some of us can’t seem to find a stopping point. That’s why nailing down a dedicated start/end time for your day is so important; since working from home provides a more relaxed environment than working in-office, planning out each day will help you limit distractions, guide you through your day, and sign off when you’ve reached your established quittin’ time.
2. Establish your work sanctuary
Since you know your home environment as a cozy place to relax, it’s super important that you set up a workstation that will enable you to get things done. For example, setting your workspace on the coffee table in front of the TV or at your gaming computer; not a good idea. You don’t want to mix spaces that are used for entertainment with places that are used for work — keep ‘em separate! Make sure you’re able to find a spot in your house where the distractions are minimal, the backdrop is professional, the seating is comfy, and the natural light is plentiful (if possible.)
3. Nail down your morning routine
Now that you don’t have to get up early, get ready, and hustle off to the office, it can take some adjusting in order to start your day on the right foot. What you definitely don’t want to do is to roll outta bed and hop online while you’re still waking up. Establish a morning routine to get yourself in a positive and energized mindset; whether that includes preparing a french-press coffee and working out your daily to-dos, stretching while you listen to a podcast, or something else! Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you enjoy and can do repeatedly as a ritual to start your day.
4. Claim your lunch hour and take breaks
Sure, working from home offers added flexibility and often feels more relaxed, but it can still be tough to pull yourself away for a break. After all, if I’m hungry, I can just run to the fridge and snack throughout the day, right? Well, not exactly. In a normal in-office environment, the lunch hour acts like half-time: it allows everyone a chance to fuel up, relax, and reset before taking on the second half of the day. You don’t want to lose this time when you start working at home, so make it a priority each day to claim your lunch break, even if you’re busy. And this doesn’t just have to be a time to nosh; get creative with your lunch break. It’s a good idea to use this time as a self-care opportunity: watch an episode of Narcos, call your mom, schedule a therapy appointment, diffuse the essential oils, whatever you need to do.
Taking breaks throughout the day not only keeps sanity in check, it contributes largely to productivity. According to science, the most productive work day consists of 52 minutes of work time followed by 17-minute breaks. It can be tempting to put your nose to the grindstone and not let up till you’re finished, but that’s going to burn you out pretty quickly, so give yourself a break (or two, or three, whatever.)
5. Commit to “leaving” work at day’s end
Just because you can work whenever, doesn’t mean you should. If you really want to make work-life balance a priority, you’ve got to leave work at work (so to speak) at the end of the day. One of the main factors contributing to burnout is, unsurprisingly, overworking, so when setting your schedule, define your start time, your end time, and stick to it. When you’ve finally reached quitting time, treat it the same as the beginning of your day. You established a morning routine, so create a day’s end ritual as well. Power down your computer, tidy up your workspace, get tomorrow’s to-dos in order, and transition from work mode into home mode. When you get up from your workspace at the end of the day, it should feel like you’re mentally clocking out. Leave the rest for tomorrow.
We hope these tips make it clear that even though you’re working from home, you can be intentional about keeping your work and home lives separate. Let’s face it, the way of the workplace is different now, so we’re going to have to take extra action to make sure that work doesn’t slip too far into life and vice versa, but with these steps, you’ll likely find it a lot less challenging. For more tips on balancing work, life, and transitioning to a remote workspace, check out our articles here.