For a lot of people, working from home is "the dream". At least that's what they thought, until they realized how hard it can be to stay productive. And then there's learning to "turn it off" at the end of the working day, right? It's not about work/life balance, because, let's be real, that's impossible. There aren't enough hours in a day to both work and play equally. But maintaining work/life integration is what we should be striving for as we learn how to cope with our office also being our living room.
Since the development of email and smartphones, it has become hard for busy professionals to "leave work behind", and this has led to an increase in work-home interference and burnout. For workers who spend most of their time in the office, simple strategies such as turning off your phone as you step out of the building can make a huge difference to their mental well-being, but what about when the working environment is less rigid? New coping strategies are required for working from home.
Your 'office hours' may be different while you're working from home. Exactly when you work is less important than how productive you are "at work". It's easy to let the tasks you have to do that day stretch out over the full working day if you don't have a fixed schedule. Use time tracking tools to promote a self-imposed schedule so that you don't end up having work in the back of your mind all day.
One challenge home workers face is constant distractions from people who fail to understand that working from home is still work and requires focus. If you have the option of designating a room as an office, do this and ask people to stay out of that room. Do not accept visitors from outside your household during your designated working hours, and be firm about saying "No" to requests to run errands since you are "not at work". You are at work, and it's important to remember that.
If you struggle to mentally disconnect from work, develop an end-of-day ritual that signifies you are now finished with the office. That could be as simple as writing the next day's to-do list or organizing the papers on your desk. Once you've finished that ritual, leave the office behind and spend your time on personal projects or connecting with your family. Make it clear to your colleagues that outside of working hours you are available only for genuine emergencies.
Being in control of your work/life balance takes practice. It requires you to learn to say "No" at the right times, and to have consistent, clear priorities. In the long run, however, it will make you more productive and happier. If you're struggling to set boundaries and stay focused, we're here to help. Book a productivity consultation today to get some personalized advice on how to beat those work-at-home blues.