Updated: Mar 17, 2022
After nearly two years of working from home you would think that we would have this routine down packed by now, right? Recently I had brunch with some of my besties and the topic of working from home came up quite a bit. Let's just say the mimosas had us sharing the good, the bad, and the not so funny stories surrounding our individual experiences. Let me be honest, I was relieved to find out that just like me most of them enjoy the flexibility of working from home but at times have found it difficult to transition from work mode once we log out for the day.
Thankfully, difficult does not equate too impossible. As I like to say, practice makes progress. I'm confident that the healthy practices that I am about to share with you can help you bring order to your life and home.
Best Practices for Achieving a Work-Life Balance
Best Practice #1: Master Your Mindset
I can't write about working from home without touching on mindset. I would dare to say that two years ago, if asked, most people would say that working from home would be a dream scenario. But do you still feel that way? Could it be that you're in need of a mindset shift?
Whether you're working from an office or from home you will have unique challenges. To help overcome those, schedule in moments to create and embrace joy for yourself. For example, are you missing your favorite coffee and bagel combo that you would pick up before work? Who says you can't still buy those before starting your workday at home?
Here are some other Mind Hacks that you can take advantage of as you plan for a successful workday:
Make the latte
Buy the bagel
Do your makeup
Get dressed up for work
Eat your lunch outside of the house
Best Practice #2: Establish a Start Time
We've all been there: You are ready to unwind after a long day only to realize that you haven't quite finished your required work for the day. What happened? Did you allow errands and other responsibilities to creep into your "dedicated" work time?
In general, you probably have an idea of the number of hours you want to put in for the day but that's not enough. Establishing a specific start time will help you stick to a specific stop time. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself working late into the evening because I didn't honor my WFH schedule. Whether it be home, family, or work life, there are just so many demands on our time. That is why establishing a schedule is so important.
Trust me, I'm not trying to steal your joy by taking away the flexibility of WFH - that's what we all love about it - but here is how you can choose a start time that works for you:
Consider what time of day you are the most productive. Ask yourself: 'Do I enjoy getting an early start on the day?' or 'Do I enjoy a slower pace in the morning and feel more focused in the afternoon?' Be sure to consider times that will still allow you to collaborate with others.
View this allotted time as your "office hours" and act as though you are out of the house and unavailable to handle any distractions. This will help you set boundaries with clients and co-workers as well as family and friends.
Best Practice #3: Take Time to Transition
Learn to stop when your workday is done and that means stopping both mentally and physically. The goal with this tip is to create a strong separation between your work and home life.
Prior to the pandemic, I used my commute as a buffer to transition mentally and physically. Normally I'd listen to some of my favorite music or catch up with one of my girlfriends, which helped me to prepare to switch into wife/mom mode. That time was precious to me, and I still think it's important to set-up these buffers to encourage the transition from work mode. Here are a few additional suggestions:
Set an alarm for 30 minutes prior to your stop time. Use the half-hour to wrap up any current assignments and review the next day's important tasks.
Do a mini brain dump. This means writing out all the tasks and goals that you have for the next workday. This will allow you to clear your mind and shift out of work mode.
Silence all work-related alerts. Like the saying goes, "out of sight, out of mind."
Physically leave your workspace. If possible, depending on your workspace set-up, once you've logged out for the day leave the area completely.
While it may be difficult to balance it all - working from home and managing our personal life - it is possible. Before you give up, I challenge you to try these tips to bring order to your life and home.