Working from home can have its advantages; there's no commuting time taken out of your day or costs to factor into your budget, and you can generally manage the hours you work, making it a more flexible solution than your typical 9am-5pm. However, working from home is not a solution which would suit everyone, and if you're not careful you can end up letting your working day run over into your family time. Follow the tips below on how to find the perfect work-life balance:
Being able to work all day in your pyjamas does have its appeal, and probably in the early stages of working from home you will find yourself indulging in the luxury of being able to walk from bed to work without having to change. But, unless you change into “work” clothes to start your working day, subconsciously your mind doesn't make the transition from home mode to work mode and back again afterwards, making it harder to switch off. Also, if you sit at home in your pjs 24/7 it can become incredibly depressing...
Define a “work” space.
Make sure you have a set area of the house that you work in; don't be tempted to take your laptop to bed, or work in front of the tv or any other area that you'd typically relax in. Don't let your family encroach on your work space either; give yourself a proper area to work in with all of the tools you need and you'll find yourself being more productive during the day and therefore less likely to pack in extra hours.
Set Working Hours
Speaking of hours, make sure to set rough hours that you will work each day. Don't be tempted to get an early 8am start and work through into the night to get something finished, or throw in a few extra hours because you don't have to commute to the office. If you wouldn't pull those hours at the office, don't do it from home just because your laptop and phone are within easy reach.
You don't necessarily need to work normal business hours either, depending on the nature of your work and whether your employer needs to have set contact hours with you. You might choose to work an 8 hour block, or you might need to split it into 2 halves depending on your family requirements. As long as you monitor the number of hours which you are putting in to make sure it's neither below or above what's required, you can afford to have a bit more flexibility from home and your family will know when you are “off-duty” for the day.
Keep your Focus
Keeping focus when you're left to your own devices can be tricky. It's tempting to put a load of washing on, or perhaps do your grocery shopping online while you've got your laptop out. But by letting non-work tasks slip into the working day, you're opening the gates for your work to start slipping into your social time as well. If you've chosen to work 2 hours and then take a break, then that's fine as long as that's what you've scheduled in. Just make sure that you're keeping work and home life separated, and that you don't start checking a few emails before bed, because you did have to run to the post office earlier that morning...
One of the biggest differences between working from home compared to the office is that in an office you are watching a clock and you know that the end of the day is coming, so you subconsciously start to wind down. Once you've left work for the day, your phone and computer are locked away until the next day and you have no choice but to switch off and pick everything back up the next day. At home you don't have enough distance from your work and that's why it's all the more important to have a clearly defined working space and hours, so that your work doesn't overrun into your family and social time.
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