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Lots of us are reading articles about how best to work from home. PRODUCTIVITY! MOTIVATION! CONNECTIVITY! They all shout. We’re inundated with these articles giving us tips and hints claiming they know the secret to successful homeworking. But once you’ve read one of them, you’ve read them all.
Now that we’ve been doing it a few weeks, what we really want to know is: when your house is now your office and your home, how can you maintain a work-life balance? Some people might be clock watching until 5:30 pm when they can close the laptop and turn on Netflix, but some of us are finding that time slips on by until you’re still firing out emails at 8:00 pm. Or logging on come Saturday and Sunday. How can we keep our lives separate and maintain the see-saw of work and life?
1. Separate your work and relaxation spaces
Try not to work where you relax, that means avoiding working from your bed or your couch. Ideally, you want a workspace where you are sitting up straight like you would at your desk, i.e. your dining table or kitchen bench if you have that setup.
Not all of us do though, so look for inventive ways of creating a space, shuffle around the furniture or prop up your laptop with some books or board games. I am working in my bedroom but have set up a comfortable workspace, and importantly, I deconstruct and put away at the end of the day, so it’s not always there reminding me about work.
2. If it’s after hours, send that email from your phone
If you had left work for the day and suddenly remembered you needed to send that final email, most of us would usually send it from our phone. Try to maintain that habit, if it’s after work hours then send it from your phone. It will stop you being tempted to then start sending more emails, checking that message, opening the CRM, and so on. Plus you’ll have a ‘sent from my iPhone/Android’ stamp at the bottom so that people know you’re on your phone and they shouldn’t expect you to be logged on and working if they do choose to respond.
3. Respect the work hours for others as well
If it’s not urgent, don’t email your colleagues after the workday has ended (or on the weekend!). Whether it’s 5:45 pm or 10:00 pm, if they see that you are working still then it might make them feel like maybe they should be working too. Instead, set the email to ‘delay delivery’ until the morning. Or if you do need to send it, make it clear whether you need a response that evening, or if it’s not an urgent query and can wait until tomorrow. The other benefit of this is people then aren’t emailing you back all through the evening and then you continue to work and never switch off – it's a dangerous cycle.
4. Find a creative commute to switch off from work
This will help you switch off and stop working at the end of the day. I go for a walk in the evening when I turn off my laptop. If you’re not able to leave the house, then try yoga, meditating, reading a book, doing a home workout, listen to a podcast, do some housework, get out into the garden, play with the kids, or whatever it is you might usually do after work before this all started. Just make sure you physically stand up, leave your workspace and consciously go and do another task that takes over your concentration and moves you from work to home time.
There are many other techniques people are using to maintain balance in their lives, so share with us what you’ve been doing to create your new working from home routine.
Article written by Megan Bond, UK Operations Manager.
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