Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be challenging at the best of times. However, with many of us now working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, some may be finding their professional and personal lives are beginning to blur into one.
Finding a work-life balance that works for you is about arranging your priorities and time managing your day effectively. Those who manage to strike that balance typically find that they are happier, healthier and more productive to boot.
Read on to discover some of our top tips for maintaining that all-important work-life balance when working from home.
Our productivity levels naturally peak and trough throughout the day and are different for everyone. If you’re able to be flexible with your working hours, find the times in the day where you feel the most productive and schedule your work and downtime around these hours. Taking time to understand when you feel at your most motivated will help you to plan your day more effectively, so you can make the most of your personal time.
For example, do you get your biggest surge of motivation first thing in the morning, or does your energy tend to spike during the afternoon? If you feel at your most productive once you’ve had your morning coffee, use the hours before lunch to dive into tasks that require more focused attention. When you feel your productivity starting to droop in the afternoon, use this time to cross off some smaller tasks on your list that don’t feel so daunting to complete. By slotting your tasks around your productivity levels, you’re more likely to power through your to-do list, so you won’t feel the need to carry your work into your evenings.
Once you’ve established the times in your day when you feel the most productive, it’s important to set yourself a daily schedule – and stick to it. By not setting a structure, the hours in your day are likely to blur together, meaning you’re more likely to stretch your tasks out and overwork yourself. Once you set yourself a schedule and give your day some structure, you’ll find it much easier to make your working hours more productive.
This will also help you to timebox your tasks. Timeboxing is an effective time management technique whereby you allocate a set amount of time to a task (for example, 15 minutes to catch up on emails, then one hour for a project report) and then swiftly move onto your next task once this time is up. This technique will help you to concentrate on specific tasks at hand and by setting yourself a deadline, your motivation and focus will be sharpened.
With your daily commute now taken away (or at least reduced to simply moving from your bed to the spare room), this frees up a significant amount of time for many people to either start work earlier or finish later. This means that you might find yourself working longer hours. However, be sure to not let it creep too much into your personal time. Although it can be a frustrating part of our day, the time we spend commuting is still time when you’re allowing your brain to switch off from focused work.
If you’re on a roll with a piece of work, then by all means, use this time to continue working on something when you feel your productivity is soaring. However, be conscious of the hours you’ve spent sitting at your desk in order to avoid burnout. While you may be feeling at a loss for what to do when confined to the walls of your house, it’s important to ensure you’re allowing yourself enough free time at the end of your working day to rest your brain – so you’re ready to take on your tasks at full steam the following day.
While some people may have desk chairs at home, the sudden switch to remote working has meant that many of us are simply making do with what we have at home. The chances are you are sat perched on a dining room chair, and sitting here all day is going to take a toll on your posture. Ensure you give yourself regular breaks to get up and stretch your legs. Taking time out to have a quick chat with a friend, family member or colleague, or heading to the kitchen for a coffee (like you would in the office) will not only help you stretch your legs but allow your brain to decompress, so you can return to your work with a clear mind.
Perhaps use your break times to catch up on a few personal errands, such as loading the washing machine or decluttering the living room. One of the benefits of working from home is that you can adjust your personal priorities more easily around your working schedule. By doing little jobs throughout the day in small doses, you will free up much more time in your evenings to truly relax with your loved ones and enjoy a well-earned break after a hard day’s work.
If you’ve not set yourself a working schedule for the day (and let your colleagues know what hours you plan to work) it can be all-to-easy to keep responding to emails and instant messages right throughout your day – and at any hour, too. Instant messaging tools such as Ayoa Chat allow you to update your colleagues on your working hours each day. For example, our team have set up a company group chat in Ayoa called ‘Hi and Goodbye’ which is our space to greet each other and let people know where we’re starting and finishing work for the day. A virtual equivalent of clocking in and out, this is a really easy and nifty way to see who’s available when you need them. It will also help you to switch off at the end of the day, so you’re not distracted by the beeping of notifications when you’ve put your work to bed for the evening.
One of the most effective ways to separate your work and personal time is to establish a space in your home where you will do your daily job. Don’t be tempted to sit on the sofa or your bed all day and carry out your work from here, especially if this is where you spend your time relaxing. Creating this separation within your home will help your brain to associate certain rooms or areas of your house with work; so, when it comes to switching off, you will find it easier to literally leave your work for the day (like you would your office) and enjoy your personal time.
With social distancing measures in place, it can be hard to make plans to fill your downtime. However, by planning what you want to do with your evenings and weekends, you’ll find it much easier to switch off after work and avoid carrying your laptop and emails into the living room or even up to bed with you.
Something simple such as starting a new TV show, cooking a new recipe for your family or helping your kids with an art project, is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to. Giving yourself days and times when you plan to do these will also help you to stick to your routine and complete your job during your working hours, so you are less likely to let your work stretch over into your personal time.
Looking for a tool to help you strike that all-important work-life balance from home? Ayoa is packed full of handy features, including instant messaging, a personal planner, due dates, reminders and much more, so you can manage your work effectively and excel your productivity. Discover more here and give it a try for FREE today!