One of the most popular reasons for anyone wanting to work from home is to achieve greater work life balance. Managed properly, you can definitely achieve this, however, it doesn’t just follow that working from home without making proper plans to achieve it.
If you’re not careful, the blurring of boundaries between work and home can mean that either you never really switch off from work, or that you never really get started. There can also be an impact on the lives of others in the home and your relationships with them.
Follow these simple, but essential steps to achieve the work life balance that you dream of when you run your business from home.
Have a designated work space.
When you’re basing yourself from home, for the benefit of both you and the others around you, you should definitely have a designated work space. This helps everyone delineate work from home a bit more clearly. You know that when you go to your office space, wherever that may be, that you are working and similarly your family understand that they will give you the space to carry on with your work.
Set and agree guidelines.
Working from home is a decision not to take independently as it affects not just you, but also your family and other members of your home. It’s important that you regularly communicate with them and you agree boundaries that everyone is comfortable with.
At the same time as agreeing your guidelines you will need to be flexible to a degree, and really this is one of the benefits of running your business from home, that you can be so close to family life.
You can get away for half an hour to go and watch that assembly, walk the dog, be there for family mealtimes, maybe even do the school run if it works for you.
Understand though that there may be other occasions where for example, children have friends over to play who may be noisy, perhaps an ill child at home and these things will impact on you to some degree if you work from home.
Set regular working hours.
As far as possible try to stick to a regular schedule of working hours. Just as having a regular work space helps everyone understand the difference between you being at work and at home, so do regular working hours.
Obviously as mentioned in the previous post there will need to be a certain degree of flexibility with this, but in the main if you can stick to regular hours it will help you to focus when you are at work, knowing that you are finishing at a certain time.
Leave the work space at the end of the day.
Now depending on your home and the space you have available, you may have an office within the house that you can work from. This is ideal as it allows you to physically leave the work space and close the door on work at the end of the working day.
If you’re basing yourself, for example, from the kitchen table, make sure you pack everything away at the end of the day. If you don’t you’ll find that you don’t get the same quality down time when you finish work.
If items that could remind you of work, the laptop, the paperwork, the calculator, are on view, instead of relaxing you’ll find that your mind is drawn back to work.
You won’t be able to fully rest and your home just won’t be such a relaxing place to be, so it’s well worth five minutes at the end of the day clearing everything away so that your home becomes home once more.
As far as possible, remove the distractions. There are distractions wherever you base yourself from, they are just different at home. Watch out for the TV, the fridge, housework. They can all distract you from getting focused.
It’s often easier to plan the full week with not just the work tasks that you need to complete, but also the things you need to do in your home life.
If you’re not used to making a plan for the week, you’ll definitely need to get in to this habit.
For years I avoided making daily and weekly plans, I felt as though they were constraining me, but actually what I’ve found is those plans give me the freedom to make sure I have time to do the things I want to as I finish all the things I have to get done in good time.
Make time for yourself.
One of the things that is often not considered when you work from home is that as work time and family time become more integrated you are often conscious of making sure that you devote time and attention to them, but time for you as an individual is often neglected.
It’s crucial that you prioritise your own self care. Factor in time to exercise, socialise with friends, pursue your own interests and do things that take you outside of the home/work environment.
A final word.
If you follow all of the above you will be well on your way to achieving true work life balance.
Appreciate it. Enjoy it.
Appreciating these things can help you feel better about yourself and your business and that inspires you to continue working to make it work.