How to Ensure a Healthy Work-life Balance When Working from Home is the New Norm
Let's be honest. There are pros and cons to every aspect of life, and working from home is no exception. How many of you have dreamed of the day where working on the beach was no longer a figment of your imagination, or having the flexibility to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day?
For some, the shift to working from home has been effortless — there's no more commuting, more flexibility, and the comfort of their homes makes them even more productive than usual.
However, for others, the transition hasn't been so smooth. Home is your place to relax and unwind, and now you're expected to do business there too? With countless distractions during the day, no co-workers to chat with, and no work-life balance, the new normal can begin to feel bleak.
But don't fret — with these simple steps, you can make your home office a productive and enjoyable place.
1. Implement a Morning Routine
While our mornings look a little different these days, consisting of enjoying our coffee in the backyard instead of on the train or in the car, a morning routine is a critical first step in finding balance and laying the foundation to a productive day. A routine helps set the tone for the day ahead, engages your brain, and encourages you to start subconsciously thinking and focusing on the work ahead.
2. Make a Barrier & Create a Dedicated Workspace
One of the most rewarding things you can do to your home office is separate it from the rest of the house. You may be lucky enough to have a separate room to work in, in which case your barrier is establishing to your family or roommates that the door stays closed during working hours. However, if you aren't so lucky and your workspace intersects with living space, you may have to make a more literal barrier.
Something simple such as hanging a curtain or blanket can serve as a partition. When you leave the barrier, you are not working. When you enter it, you are working. This division will help you compartmentalize, making for a much more satisfying and manageable work experience.
3. Address Unwanted Noise
There's nothing more distracting than hearing those annoying daily sounds; someone talking in the next room, someone slamming a door, the dog barking, kids screaming next door. Whatever it may be, there are ways of managing this.
The simplest way of doing this is to talk to your family or roommates and politely ask them to keep it down during work hours. Of course, some noise is unavoidable.
Focus on what you can control. For some, putting on background music can increase productivity while drowning out those daily noises. For others, closing the doors and putting on a pair of noise-canceling headphones does the trick. Find a solution that best suits your productivity habits.
4. Take Advantage of your Breaks
When you're spending all your time at home, your break might seem a little boring. You're tempted to just power through, send that next email, start that next project. Don't!
Your break is a vitally necessary time to decompress and give your brain some much-needed rest. Use this time for you. Take a walk, throw a ball around, or simply make yourself a nice lunch. You'll find that you'll come back to work more energized and ready to get things done.
For our team at Maika Global, breaks have played an integral part in the new normal of working from home. For our Digital Marketing and Events Manager, Haley, you'll find her sneaking out for a mid-afternoon paddle on the Bay, or a quick kiteboarding session, before coming back home to finish off the days work.
5. Dress Nicely
It may seem pointless to wear professional work clothes when you're home all day. Especially if your position doesn't involve face-to-face online meetings with clients, it can be easy to wear sweats every day. However, even if no one can see you, it's still worthwhile to dress at a business-casual level or higher. Wearing these clothes puts you in a headspace of professionalism and productivity, as opposed to casual attire, which puts you in a more inactive and sluggish mood.
A 2015 study from Columbia and California State University shows that wearing nice clothes can also give you increased self-esteem and a boost in confidence, so give it a shot.
Say you don’t want to get all dressed up? Invest in some comfy at home work outfits. Maybe it is a matching Pangaia sweat suit like our Co-Founder, Madison. Whatever it is that you decide to wear make sure to change into it in the morning and out of it after work or before you go to sleep.
6. Avoid Burnout & Create a Work Strategy
Gone are the days where work stayed at work. With the use of email, text messages, cell phones, internet, etc. access to co-workers has become immediate and constant. Working from home can be challenging and exhausting in and of itself, so setting boundaries is imperative to avoid 24/7 availability.
When the home is also your office, setting work hours, and sticking to them, is an excellent first step. As office life collides with home life, many people will begin to find that their productivity levels are lower. To decrease stress, and manage daily tasks more effectively, our Co-Founder, Maria, shares a few tips and tricks that she has been following:
"The new normal has taken some time to adjust to. I have found that the 90-minute Productivity Rule paired with breaks in between is a beneficial strategy to follow. It allows me to manage my time and tasks and be more efficient with the work that I am doing throughout the day".
7. Don’t Overwork Yourself
You simply cannot do it all, not only are you working from home but many people are dealing with a shortage of people to help you get things done. Look for resources to help, be realistic with due dates and don’t let your to-do list overwhelm you to the point of anti-productivity.