You’ve heard work-life balance, but do you know what it means? As a remote worker, I see it in action every day. But before we get into specifics, let’s talk about what work-life balance is not: it’s not just an empty buzzword or a feel-good idea.
Work-life balance is one thing that sounds simple in theory but can be incredibly challenging in practice. And while maintaining this delicate equilibrium can be hard for anyone, the challenges are even greater when working remotely: You have no set hours, no co-workers around to lean on (or at least commiserate with), and no one there to remind you that your butt should be on a seat right now instead of sitting here reading this article.
Define what you want from your remote work–life
Before you start, it’s important to define what you want. It’s too easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new opportunity without thinking through your goals and objectives, but if you don’t know what road leads, there’s no way of knowing if you’re on the right one.
Defining your goals is essential whether working remotely or not; if nothing else, they can serve as a compass when things get rough and help keep you grounded when things are going well. If this is something that sounds familiar, why not try setting some fitness-related goals? For example:
- Lose 20 pounds by June 1st (and keep it off)
- Run half-marathon in under two hours by December 31st (and set personal records at each race)
Set a schedule and stick to it
Having a schedule is important, especially if you’re working remotely. This won’t be as crucial if your work is more project-based. However, if you have multiple clients or are actively working on several different projects at once, having a schedule will help keep things organized and prevent any overlap between projects.
So how do you set a schedule? First, ensure that your day’s hours are clearly defined and accounted for. It may also be helpful to add time slots when things like meetings or breaks take place, so there’s no room for confusion later on down the line regarding another appointment with an important client/strategic partner/etc. who is not going to look favourably upon being kept waiting because you forgot about an upcoming meeting (or worse yet: had no idea it was even happening).
Take an actual lunch break
- Take an actual lunch break. Unlike in-office workers, who have to physically go into the office and clock out for lunch, remote workers can stay at their desks throughout the day if they choose to do so (or if it makes sense).
- This leads to what we call ‘lunch burnout’ where you find yourself too hungry by noon to eat but not hungry enough to leave your desk, and then you end up eating a bag of M&Ms while staring at Gmail on your phone.
- Get outside and get moving Taking frequent breaks from work is important whether or not you’re remote.
- If there’s no way for you to take time offsite during business hours due to company policy, see if there are any opportunities for exercise during non-work times like weekends or evenings after all of your coworkers have gone home for the evening (if this isn’t possible either). Or maybe just grab an hour each morning before work starts and every afternoon when everyone else is taking theirs.
Be confident in managing your time
You should also be confident in managing your time. If you are a remote worker, then you need to be disciplined enough to know when it is time to work and when it is time to relax.
You have the ability to choose when and where you want to do a task, so use this privilege wisely. For example: if early in the morning or late at night is the only time that suits your schedule for working on a project, then don’t waste energy trying any other times of the day because it won’t work for you as efficiently as those two times will.
Another way of managing your energy levels is ensuring breaks between tasks so that you don’t burn out from sitting at your desk all day (or all night long).
A good rule of thumb here would be 60 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes off– switching from one activity (work) to another (relaxation). Doing this regularly throughout the day/night prevents us from getting tired too quickly, making us more productive overall.
Do things for yourself
When you’re at home with your family, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of their activities. Do things for yourself.
- Take a bath and enjoy the quiet time.
- Read a book.
- Do a crossword puzzle.
- Go for a walk or run.
- Call an old friend and catch up on what they’re doing now.
You know you didn’t get to do all those things when you were working full-time but still needed to feel like yourself.
Not only will this help make sure that you stay sane after being away from work too long, but it will also help keep everyone else around you happy as well (and maybe even inspired).
Set up a dedicated workstation
Set up a dedicated workstation. It may seem obvious, but having a designated space for your work will help you stay focused and keep you from being distracted by other things around the house.
Invest in good lighting and ergonomic chairs. Working at home can be isolating if there isn’t enough light or if you don’t have an ergonomic chair supporting your back and legs while sitting at your desk all day. A good chair is worth its weight in gold for staying comfortable during a long day of typing. Some preferred a standing desk because it has a lot of benefits too.
Meet people and make friends
It can be hard to make friends as a remote worker, especially when you don’t have any co-workers. It doesn’t even have to be at work. You can make friends anywhere.
It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself and keep in touch with other people. You should connect with your coworkers via Slack or email every day and talk about what went well and what didn’t go so well for each of you that day. This will help build rapport between everyone involved in the project.
If you don’t have anyone to meet up with outside of work hours (which is fine), try getting into local events related to the industry you work in or projects that interest you personally; this way, there will always be someone who shares those interests with whom you can bond over coffee after work or lunch on weekdays while still being able to maintain a good balance between personal time and professional obligations during business hours
Take control of your work-life balance and exercise good self-care
You need to be aware of your own needs and priorities. You also need to be confident in managing your time, which means knowing what you want from your work-life balance and how to achieve it.
As a remote worker, it is especially important for me to take control of my work-life balance because I’m not constantly surrounded by people like most people are at the office.
Work-life balance can often get thrown out of whack when working from home because no one keeps track of how much time has been spent working or relaxing. You have complete control over this, so ensure you’re conscious of it.
You can maintain healthy boundaries when working away from the office; it just takes some practice and attention to your own needs.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation or drinking with friends. It’s important to remember that you need time away from the office, and it’s okay to say no when someone asks you to take on more work than you can handle.
If your boss is pressuring you into making a decision, remind them of your boundaries by saying something like this: ‘I’m sorry, but I’ve already reached my limit for this week.’ It might feel weird at first, but reminding others about what works best for you will help create more healthy boundaries overall.
We hope this post will help you find the right balance in your work life, whether you’re an office or remote worker. Remember that taking care of yourself first and foremost to be at your best as an employee or employer is important.
Even though there are challenges associated with remote work, they can be overcome with the right mindset and tools for success.