Finding Work-Life Balance at Home

Working from home has become the new norm. That’s great for reducing commute time, lunch costs and stress levels. It also boosts work productivity, with remote employees giving their companies an extra three weeks per year of work time, according to a recent Airtasker survey. Telecommuters spend less on gas, workout more, and report being able to focus better at home.

So, what’s the downside to work-from-home? The line between work life and home life starts to blur pretty fast. You might start out strong, shutting down your work computer at 5 p.m. and turning off your ringer. Cut to four weeks later: You’re working 12-hour days. You’ve totally forgotten breaks exist. And you’re reading work emails in bed at night while stress-eating cereal straight out of the box.

To help prevent telecommute burnout, we’ve compiled six quick steps to help you find work-life balance:

1. Don’t Sign On B.C.

It’s tempting to log in remotely the second you wake up. But if you haven’t had your morning caffeine fix (B.C. = Before Coffee), resist the urge to fire up your work machine and get started. Breathe. Brew. Sip. Trust us, your coworkers will be grateful.

2. Get (Fully) Dressed

Sure, you could roll out of bed, run a comb through your tangled hair-nest, brush your teeth and be ready to sign on at 8 a.m. in last night’s pajamas. Zoom meetings aside, that’s not the best way to separate work from home life. Keeping up your usual grooming routine and less casual work attire will not only help you detach when you get back into sweats, it can also make any eventual transition back to a public office easier.

3. Set a Schedule

If you’re logged in 24/7, it’s no surprise that your boss or co-workers feel free to text you at the crack of dawn. Decide what your typical hours will be and set your calendar as “away” outside of those hours. You still might end up working late or logging in for a weekend project update, but it probably won’t be every week. Also, get some tips on organizing your time better so that you can better plan your day in advance.

4. Carve Out a Dedicated Workspace

It doesn’t really matter how big or small your home “office” is, but let’s face it: You’re not going to get a thing done with your cat sprawled on your keyboard and your kids making a blanket fort under your kitchen table slash desk. Find a quiet spot away from distractions – even if you have to turn a closet into a workspace you can hide in.

5. Turn Your Phone Off

While some jobs require you to be “on call” at times, most employers don’t expect you to be available at all hours of the day. If you’re having family time at night, out to lunch, or talking to friends, turn off your ringer and check messages when you’re done.

6. Turn Your Brain Off

Your laptop may be closed and your phone silenced, but your brain is still going over those reports due Friday. We’ve all been there. But studies show that people who don’t unplug from work mentally at night experience more burnout, have higher stress hormone levels and may even be more susceptible to illness! So leave work at work when you’re off the clock, even if you haven’t physically left your workspace.

As with traditional office environments, working at home has its challenges. It can be all too easy to get sucked back into spreadsheets or phone calls on your off-hours when you’re literally steps away from your desk.

With a little extra planning and some off-work willpower, you can put some healthy distance between work hours and leisure time. You might have to make additional adjustments every so often — especially if remote work isn’t your preference — but following our six tips is a great start to finding your perfect work-life balance at home.

The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.