Keeping a Great Work-Life Balance While Working from Home

Whether working from home is your normal routine, or you recently started working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to be proactive in maintaining a good work-life balance. There are definitely benefits from commuting from the bedroom to an office just a few doors down the hallway. But you are likely facing common drawbacks as well. It can be hard to maintain work boundaries when there isn’t much distance between your home life and workplace.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, then you likely have a lot of experience working from home. Additionally, many corporate businesses have been shifting to offer more work from home positions for their employees. We live in a time where the internet keeps us connected from any location, creating more flexibility and creativity for the way the workday is structured.

The Perks of Working from Home

Working from home is a dream for many people. The idea of schedule flexibility and staying in sweatpants all day sounds dreamy, and there are notable benefits you can enjoy when working from home:

  • More Time: How much time do you usually spend getting ready for work and commuting to the office? Some people have a short 10- or 15-minute commute, while big-city workers sometimes face a commute of 1 – 2 hours each way. Eliminating the hours you spend in the car or on public transportation means that you have extra time to spend on activities you enjoy. You literally add more hours to your personal time by skipping the commute.
  • Family Support: Depending on the ages of your children, working from home might enable you to cut childcare costs. If your children are old enough to be self-sufficient during portions of the day, then you might have the option to keep them home with you while you are working. Not only will you save a significant amount of money on childcare expenses, but it’s nice to have family bonding time when you have a moment to step away from the computer.
  • Flexibility: Lunch breaks can be much more productive when you aren’t tied to a cubicle. Working from home means that lunch is easy to grab from the fridge, leaving you with the rest of a work break to use as you wish. Even half an hour can make a big difference when you need to clean up the kitchen or fold the laundry. Many people working from home also find that they have more flexibility with the start/finish time of their workdays. This flexibility is a valuable benefit that can help tremendously with work-life balance.
  • Exercise: Have you found that working from home is playing a positive role in your health? It’s easier to fit in a quick workout when you are at home. For example, when the commute is eliminated, some people use the extra time in the morning to exercise before sitting down at the computer.
  • Nutrition: Another notable benefit is how much easier it is to manage your menu when you don’t have tempting foods near your desk. Many office workers find it challenging to stay on track with their dietary goals because coworkers bring treats and extend lunch invitations. When you stop eating fast food every day and instead choose healthy meals at home, it’s easy to cut calories and choose the menus that best fit your health goals.

Setting Boundaries While Working from Home

While there are great benefits that come from working at home, it’s also important to recognize potential drawbacks that can occur. Being aware of these issues and setting clear boundaries is key to optimizing your work-life balance.

Many small business owners and employees find it challenging in the beginning to set healthy boundaries. But creating a few rules is just what you need to ensure that you stay at the top of your game. Here are a few suggestions to help:

  1. Designate a Workspace: Without a dedicated work area, then you will find your work and home life mixing together in every room of the house. Instead of turning the house upside down because you can’t remember where you set down the contractor paperwork, be deliberate in confining your work activities to a specific part of the house. Ideally, this workspace is separate from your family life, such as an office where you can close the door. If you like the flexibility to work on the couch, then use the desk as your home-base with a change of scenery when you need something different.
  2. Look for Other Working Spaces: Do you feel cooped up when you are spending the whole day at home? You might consider the benefit of locating an office nearby. For example, co-working spaces offer plenty of room for social distancing, giving you a quiet place to focus away from the house. Working from home doesn’t mean that you must stay home all the time. Instead, it opens up a variety of options for working anywhere you desire – away from the office.
  3. Respect Your Work Hours: While flexibility is a notable benefit of working from home, there is something to be said about maintaining boundaries with your work hours. Even if you don’t want to stick with the traditional 9-5 schedule, decide on the hours that are best for your family and your ideal focus time. Whatever your preference, mark it on the calendar and treat those hours as sacred – as if you weren’t home during that time. When it is time for work to end, be proactive in stepping away from the computer and turning your attention back to the family again.
  4. Walk Away from the Computer: Once surprising report from the mass work-from-home transition that occurred due to the pandemic is that many companies found that productivity increased. Since employees always had their work equipment on hand, it was easy for work to fit in along with other daily activities. Yes, it’s good to stay connected. But you should also be deliberate in creating time when you are away from the computer. Block out your lunch break to give yourself a mental rest during the day. Also, be serious about respecting your days off so that you can recharge your mental health before a new week begins.
  5. Communication with Others: Daily social interaction is one thing that many people miss when stepping away from the office. Even though you aren’t talking with your coworkers face-to-face, be deliberate in reaching out regularly. A quick email, text, or Slack message can go a long way to maintain those relationships and help the team feel connected.
  6. Get Dressed for the Day: It might seem blissful to spend the entire workday in sweat pants, but there is something to be said about getting dressed for the day. If you are looking for ways to separate your work life and home life, then your clothing can play a role. Put on your work clothes before sitting down at the computer. Don’t assume that you need to wear a tie, put on makeup, or button up a power suit. Instead, make sure you are changing into something different from what you slept in.
  7. Create daily routines: What are the common rituals you enjoyed when working in an office? Some people have their favorite coffee mug, turn on a specific playlist in the morning, or love to start the day with an empty inbox. Find the routines that work best for you so you can start the workday with the right mindset. Building in rituals can help your brain distinguish the difference between work hours and home hours.
  8. Know When to Say No: If you are working from home, then it’s likely that your family, friends, and neighbors assume that you have unlimited time on your hands. If you have people often asking for favors or help during your work hours, then it’s important that you learn to say “no.” Yes, there are times when it makes sense to take a break and lend a hand. But you treat your daytime hours the same as if you were at an office building all day. One easy way to respond is by telling someone: “No, I’m not available during business hours. But I’m available to help when my work ends at 5pm.”

Finding Your Preferred Work Routine

Ultimately, the best way to succeed when working from home is to find the perfect balance between your work responsibilities and your family life. Every person is unique, which is why there isn’t a right or wrong way to structure your work-from-home schedule. Instead, create a vision for your routine and goals, then find the best way to optimize your daily habits so you can create the ideal lifestyle.

At Easier Accounting, we’re here to offer the accounting and bookkeeping support you need. If you are a small business owner who is working from home, then tap into these important resources to stay ahead of payroll, invoicing, tax strategy, and more. Call our team to learn more about outsourced accounting services: (888) 620-0770.

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