Working at home comes with perks. The first time you started working remotely, you’ve probably reveled in the fact that you owned your time. Wake up at 10, do some household chores, grocery in the afternoon, and work all night. Your daily schedule is all up to you. Nothing could be greater than that.
But sooner or later, you’ll discover that this set up can be tough. As a remote worker, creating harmony between work and private space can be extremely challenging. Work-life balance means you attend to both your professional and personal lives equally, without any of these aspects encroaching upon the other. However, when both of these happen at home, setting boundaries can be impossible.
With traditional work set up, it’s easy to juggle the demands of work and personal lives. Once you enter the workplace, it’s all work. Later when you log out, it’s all personal time. This is not the case with working remotely. Work is just in front of you, day-in and day-out. It can be tempting to work all day – or not at all. On average, full-time workers spend around 9 hours of work time each day but this can be longer for remote workers.
With remote work, the line that separates your two roles gets thinner and thinner. As such, it is necessary to make a few changes in your mindset, habits, and daily schedule. This is crucial to give yourself some private space and achieve a healthy balance between work and life.
So, how do you do that? Here are some hacks you can do.
Set specific work hours
Dividing your time equally between work and personal tasks is probably one of the toughest challenges of virtual workers. Regular work set up allows you to physically disengage from your job. Once you step out of the workplace, you’re done with work. You don’t have this same opportunity when you work from home.
Even if you move to the living room or the kitchen, work is just a few steps away. It can be very tempting to check the email just one more time.
Considering this challenge, time management is crucial to virtual workers. You need to develop a daily schedule that specifies work and non-work hours/days, and most amenable to your teammates and supervisor. By setting your work schedule, everyone in the team is aware of your availability. Hence, they know when to call you up, assign tasks, and check on your work. This reduces the chances of receiving emails, calls, and other work-related concerns during off-days and hours.
If your supervisor allows, decide a time in the day when you are most productive. Factor in your necessities like grooming up, preparing foods, and other household chores. This ensures that you have a realistic schedule and that you maintain your private space.
Get dressed for work
Even if you’re not leaving home, make sure you dress up for work. Switching from your pajamas to work clothes allows you to make that mental shift. You don’t even need to wear a three-piece suit or put on makeup. The physical act of preparing for work psyches you up and put you on work mode. It creates a psychological separation between work and private life.
When you dress for work, you tend to focus on work and are less likely to do household chores. Alongside dressing up, you should treat your home office as if it’s your real office. Once your work schedule is over, change your outfit into regular home attire. This should mark the end of the workday and the start of your private time.
Develop a morning routine
According to experts at a remote staffing agency, Allshore, rising in the morning is the most difficult part of the day of a remote worker. Oversleeping can be very tempting, especially if you control your day. To ensure that you start your day right, go through your normal morning as if you’re still heading to work.
Follow your routine – cooking breakfast, bathing, dressing up, and commuting. Since you don’t need to commute, replace it with something more productive such as reading, cooking, or a short workout. If your regular commute takes 1 hour, you need to devote the same amount of time to your preferred activity.
Set your goals
Take a quick overview of your day and week. Identify your priorities – the must-dos and nice-to-dos – both at work and at home. Write down upcoming important dates, such as deadlines, meetings, and other activities.
Set achievable objectives by prioritizing the most important tasks. It would be great to have a weekly or daily planner to remind you of things that you need to accomplish. Alternatively, you can use time management apps. These will make it easier for you to schedule your day or week.
Create a physical workspace
Remote work experts highly recommend this hack. A dedicated workspace creates a physical separation between work and private space.
However, this can be challenging for people who live in limited space. Think of creative ways to divide your living area. For example, you can set up a movable barrier that can be propped up when it’s time for work. At the end of your work, you could easily move it away. This sends a mental cue that work is done.
Disengage at the end of the workday
People who work at home tend to log more hours (up to three hours) than regular on-site employees. This is because they don’t disengage right after their workday is over. Set boundaries by recreating your commute back home. Make it a point to wrap things up at least 15 minutes before your log-out time.
After your workday is completed, disengage from everything work-related. Shut off your computer, put idle in your work’s chatbox, and step away from your workstation. Go for a walk to signal that your workday is done.