Home-based employment appeals to many workers. Benefits such as flexible hours, few distractions, comfort, and efficiency make remote work appealing to entrepreneurs, freelancers, telecommuters, and businesses. Challenges to the new way of working also exist. Working from a home office can blur the boundaries between work-life balance. Often, one side ends up consuming more time than the other.
Clear rules and practical guidelines will help you succeed as a remote worker. Consider the following five steps to establish and maintain a work-life balance while working from home.
1. Define a Schedule
Get control over your time. Time management skills provide a front line of defense against work-life imbalance. Remote workers often take a haphazard approach that results in wasted time and misplaced priorities. People who succeed in their role have to learn how to define and prioritize their tasks and responsibilities at scheduled time appropriately.
Different techniques work for different people, so you have to develop habits that fit your lifestyle and personal preferences. Schedule blocks of time that you can dedicate to work so that you have enough time to finish tasks, meet with clients, and collaborate with team members without interruption. If you have unpredictable personal obligations, see if you can vary your schedule each week. When you manage time correctly, you will establish a healthy routine for your work and personal life that will minimize distractions, and give you the most satisfaction.
2. Establish a Task Management System
Create a system to manage your tasks, so you always know what you should be doing. Have realistic expectations of your productivity, so you don’t try to get too much done in an allotted amount of time. A task management system will help you to prioritize your tasks and get them on your schedule.
Tools such as Evernote, Trello, Google Calendars and Todoist can enhance your productivity if they match your style. You can also try other approaches to task management such as the Pomodoro technique that break your work into chunks of tasks performed during short increments of time. Such tactics support mental agility and break-up the monotony of the workday.
3. Clearly Designate your Workspace
If you don’t have a particular place to work, you’ll set the stage for confusion and interruption. Whether you choose to use a spare room, a corner of your living room, or a small nook somewhere in your residence, make sure to find a comfortable place that can accommodate your equipment and your storage needs. You should get an ergonomic chair and desk that will minimize strains on your body caused by prolonged sitting.
Designate your space as your work area and create boundaries so all your household members know that this place is reserved for your job. This designated spot will give you a sense of division between work and home that will help you stay productive.
4. Leave the “Office”
When you finish work for the day, leave your work area just as if you would leave an employer’s office. Failure to maintain clear distinctions between your work area and the rest of your residence can result in the type of imbalance that you want to avoid, especially if you enter a pattern that keeps you inside the house too much.
Take breaks outside, whenever possible. Go out for lunch, coffee or just a walk. You can also get out of the office by scheduling meetings with clients at restaurants or coffee shops.
5. Turn Off Your Business
Always-on Internet connections and mobile devices challenge your ability to exit your “work” mode. Non-stop work can cause productivity and quality-of-work issues as well as serious health problems, so you have to learn to disconnect from work and fully engage in other activities. Try increasing the distance between you and your business by having a separate smartphone for work and personal life.
You should also participate in personal activities outside your residence, such as going to the movies and taking trips, to increase the separation between you and your job. You will likely discover that an active personal life will improve your satisfaction with your work.
Your life as a remote worker depends on a healthy work-life balance. Follow these five steps to establish patterns for long-term success. Develop your time and task management skills, define a workspace, and find ways to create boundaries that help you leave work behind while you enjoy the rest of your life.
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