For many people, working from home is the ultimate win-win situation. If you have kids (or even pets), you can be there for them and still maintain an income. In addition, you can avoid long commutes, high gas prices, and the expense and hassle of vehicle maintenance. And let’s not forget one of the most important perks of all: Working in your PJs.
However, working a work-at-home job comes with its own set of challenges. When the lines between your home life and work-life get blurry, it can be hard to find a balance. Burnout can happen fast, and you might find yourself longing to get back to the office just to have some peace and quiet!
You’re not alone. Some people find that work-at-home balance easier than others. Of course, productivity is important, but relaxation and a happy home life are also essential. This article will present ten tips for creating a healthy work-from-home routine.
1. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
When you have a job outside the home, you have to get up at a specific time each day to make it to work on time. And you already know what happens when you press the snooze button too many times. You end up frazzled, rushing around, and feeling off your game for the rest of the day. The same thing applies when working from home, too. So you can make your whole life run smoother by making a conscious effort to get up at the same time each day.
Many experts even suggest getting up an hour earlier when the rest of the family is asleep. Give yourself time to savor your coffee, eat some breakfast, and enjoy the quiet morning hours. It will get your day off to the right start and keep all your tasks from blending together. Then, when it’s time to start working, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.
2. Shower and Get Ready for Work
When you work from home, it’s easy to roll out of bed and go straight to your desk to begin working. Yes, one of the cool perks of having a work-at-home gig is being able to stay in your pajamas all day, but believe it or not, that gets old. There’s just something about disheveled hair and pajamas at 2 pm that feels off.
Showering and getting fully dressed before tackling your paid work for the day creates a boundary between your home and work life. It’s like sending yourself a message that you’re ready to focus on work rather than all the other distractions going on. Naturally, there are going to be times when it just doesn’t happen. You might be struggling with a deadline or taking care of a sick child. But in general, “getting ready for work” is a habit that will go a long way toward helping you create a healthy routine.
3. Communicate Expectations to Your Roommates or Family Members
One of the most difficult parts of working from home can be the distractions from those you live with. Your family members won’t automatically understand that just because you are doing your work from home doesn’t mean you are “home” for them. You’ll likely need to lay some ground rules to prevent hurt feelings on both sides.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to be extremely clear about when you are in your “office.” Whether your office is a separate room or just a tiny corner of the house, you’ll need some kind of physical sign that you are working. For example, some people put up a note that says “Working—Please Do Not Disturb.” Others just make a verbal announcement. It can take a while for your loved ones to understand you are not available for them whenever they wish just because it looks like you’re hanging out at the house. However, it’s necessary for your general sanity, trust us.
4. Communicate Expectations to Those Outside the Home
This is a tricky situation too. When you have a job outside of the house, your friends don’t just “pop in” at your workplace. Likewise, your mother doesn’t call you every half hour to ask you questions about her new iPhone. But you will undoubtedly begin to encounter these situations when you start working remotely, and they can be maddening.
You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but you also have to put your foot down. The best thing to do in this situation is to be direct. Tell the person you are working and can’t take time out for a phone call or visit, but that you will connect with them when you are done for the day. If that doesn’t work, turn off your phone and don’t answer the door. It’s not rude to protect your work routine. If your work is your livelihood and you don’t have room for interruptions, you’ll have to speak up.
5. Connect With Other People
This tip seems contradictory to the two above it, so if you get more than your share of human interaction, you can skip this and move on to number six. However, if you live alone and are used to having coworkers around, working from home can leave you feeling isolated, bored, and missing human contact.
Try making a concerted effort to contact your friends and family regularly. Meet for coffee, lunch, or even a zoom session. You can also check out Meetup to find new friends that share your interests. You’ll find groups for just about everything, from horseback riding to video gaming.
6. Schedule Chores and Meals
When working at home, it’s easy to get caught in the domestic duty trap. You know, you plan to empty and load the dishwasher for ten minutes and then get right back to work. But you notice the kitchen floor is filthy and decide to vacuum and wash it. Then, you have to go searching for the vacuum, but the bag is full, so you’ve got to hunt for those too. Once you’re finally finished up with the kitchen floor, your five-year-old needs lunch. And before long, two hours have vanished.
Depending on the ages of your children and your other obligations, you’ll need to come up with a schedule that works for you. For example, you could set aside an hour each morning to do household chores and prepare lunches ahead of time. Or, you could delegate some of those chores to your older kids.
If you’re easily distracted by housework and tidying up, get a timer. Set it for 10 minutes, accomplish what you set out to do (in this case, empty and fill the dishwasher), and get back to work. The chores will always be there, but you’ve got to prioritize work time too. Otherwise, you’ll never meet your goals.
7. Get a Datebook or Digital Planner and Use It
It doesn’t matter what type of planner you use. Some people like to use productivity apps. Others need to get their plans on pen and paper to solidify them.
Set goals for what you want to accomplish each day. Whether it’s two hours of chores or five hours of work, make a plan. Be sure to add all the other little tasks that are swimming around in your head, too—doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, paying the bills, etc.
Having all your goals and tasks in one place will free your mind to focus on the job at hand.
8. Make Sure You Like What You’re Doing
If you aren’t happy with your remote job, consider switching to something you enjoy more. There are more online jobs than ever before, and there’s no reason not to explore your options.
You can even start working for yourself as a freelancer. A few ideas include:
- Writing for the web
- Digital work like web design and graphics
- Sell your arts and crafts on a platform like Etsy
If you’re between jobs or just want to try out freelancing, you can also get paid to take surveys. This can be an excellent opportunity to try out the remote working lifestyle. Paid surveys won’t replace a full-time income, but as a part-time gig, surveys can help you earn extra cash or gift cards to purchase things you need or want.
9. Limit Social Media
Perhaps no activity will suck time and productivity out of your day as quickly as social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or some other platform, you already know that a “quick look” is not always quick.
When you set limits on the amount of time you spend on social media, you will likely discover extra time in your day you didn’t even know you had. If you’re having a hard time with self-control, there are plenty of apps that can actually help you block social media from yourself.
10. Prioritize Sleep
Getting up at the same time each morning means sticking to a sensible sleeping schedule as well. You’ve heard about the importance of getting enough sleep since you were old enough to understand words, yet many people still don’t grasp the concept.
Dr. Matthew Carter, who teaches Neuroscience and Physiology at Williams College, says that “We’re hardwired to need sleep.” In a recent TEDx talk, he discusses how even though we often think we can get more accomplished by staying up that extra hour or two, we will actually be more productive the next day by getting a good night’s sleep instead.