Working from home used to be a rare work perk enjoyed by the elite few. Jobs that offered the perk tended to be swamped with hundreds of applicants enticed by the prospect of rolling out of bed and opening up their laptops.
Nowadays, working from home has become as commonplace as casual Fridays as companies try to scramble and retain workers amidst a perpetual pandemic. While working from home seems like it would result in the perfect balance between work and life, many are quickly finding that is not the case.
We talked to some c-suite executives to gather some tips about finding balance in the new WFH world.
Schedule Activities Away from the Home Office
The biggest issue most people face working from is just that; they are at home. When there is no defining line between work and play, things can get confusing.
“One of the difficulties in finding a work/life balance in the remote world is whether you are on or off the clock, you are still at the same location,” noted Woody Sears, founder of Hearhere. She continued, “Without the natural excitement that comes with finishing your day in a traditional work setting, it is easy to fall into a rut. That’s why it is critical to plan activities outside the house. Whether it is social outings, workouts, or just personal time, by scheduling your life outside the home, you will be less likely to always feel like you are at work.
Set a Schedule
If you are working from home your schedule is going to be your best friend. Setting firm start and end times on your calendar is a great way to draw distinct lines between your work time and relaxation time.
Brandon Amoroso, Founder and CEO of electrIQ marketing had this to say, “Don’t take your work home with you was something I used to say all the time, but now people’s work is literally in their home. Now, I tell my employees to stick to a schedule. That way, they know exactly when work begins and ends and can sign out at the end of the day knowing they worked the proper amount.”
Dan Springer, CEO of DocuSign echoed this sentiment, saying, “Working from home makes it much harder to delineate work time from personal time. I encourage all of our employees to have a disciplined schedule for when you will work, and when you will not, and to stick to that schedule.”
Setting your available hours on your calendar is a great way to let co-workers and anyone who might need to schedule time with you know where the lines are drawn.
Working from home actually boosts productivity due to the lack of time spent commuting and chatting with coworkers. But without all the distractions you can also forget to take a break.
“Even when I worked in an office, I would often bring work home with me. When I started working remotely, it was just a recipe for disaster. Over time, I’ve found two things to be very important. This is a bit cliché and everybody says this but it’s really true: Rest is very important. And time off is very important” said Gonçalo Silva, CEO at Doist.
Rest and breaks are key to maintaining your sanity. One way to make sure you are taking a break during the day is to schedule breaks around your errands, says Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ.
“Use personal errands to break up your day when you need to take a couple of minutes away from your work. You will still feel like you are being productive and, when you return to your desk, you will feel like you have really accomplished something. That good energy tends to spill over into your work and results in more productivity for the rest of the day.”
“We have so many ways to communicate now between Slack, Gmail, Zoom, etc. It can get overwhelming and feel invasive at times. I always remind my employees to turn on out of office settings for non-work hours so they don’t receive notifications after a certain time of day. This keeps everyone respectful of each other’s personal time and creates a distinct separation between work and play,” commented Omid Semino, CEO and Founder of Diamond Mansion.
When you leave your physical office, generally you leave behind your phone, email, and messages, but now that many of us work from home all of those things are constantly nearby. Make sure to announce your schedule so coworkers know when it is okay to reach out. An OOO on Google Calendar and “away” on Slack will do wonders for your mental health.
After Work is You Time
When you would punch out for the day at your office job, it meant it was finally YOU time. The same should be true when you are set at WFH. But it can often feel difficult to step away from work when work is a step away.
“I try to make plans as soon as my day is over. Even if it is as simple as going to the food store. It is a surefire way to keep me from working any longer,” said Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO of Diathrive. “Try signing up for a workout class or grab drinks with a friend. Any excuse to have a hard out.
This is a great method for creating distance between you and your work and it allows you to shift out of work mode.
Create Physical Distance
It might not be possible if you are in a cramped city apartment, but if you have the ability, try to create some physical space between you and your work area.
Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder & CEO of OSDB advised, “Try your best to not work from the couch or bedroom. They say your bedroom should only be for sleep, well your work area should only be for work.”
Creating a physical separation is good for your mental health and makes your brain prepare for work time just like it prepares for rest when you lay in your room.
“I like to work from my desk and take meetings at my kitchen table. It reminds me of being in the office where we would all gather in a separate room. The change in location helps readjust my focus and helps me hone in on the meeting,” says Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor at Personal Trainer Pioneer.
Create a Lunch Block
If your employer allows you to take an hour lunch break, you should be blocking off that time on your calendar, setting yourself as “away” and eating lunch somewhere that is not your desk. Doing these things will allow you to take time and recharge before returning to work and finishing your day, says Justin Chan, Growth Manager at JuneShine.
“When we were in the office, we had a big farm table where we would all sit and take lunch and chat about our days. Now that we are mostly remote, that isn’t an option, so we tend to graze all day instead of working up until lunch, taking a break, and then returning to work. I remind my staff to walk away and enjoy the hour to yourself. We want you to enjoy that hour. You earned it.”
Walk it Off
Get outside and grab some crucial Vitamin D if the weather allows for it. “Sitting inside is bad for your mental health. Studies have shown this. You need to energize your brain by changing the scenery every once and a while. I like to take a walk around my neighborhood after I eat. I try to take a new route every day to keep my brain sharp too,” comments Daniel Patrick, Founder of the eponymous DANIEL PATRICK.
He’s right, getting outside is tremendously important to your wellbeing. Take a stroll or walk the dog at least once during working hours.
Try incorporating non-work rituals that will break up the day and create a sense of progress and achievement. James Shalhoub, Co-founder of Finn told us, “I have a French press that I use in the morning before work and at two in the afternoon. I leave my desk, go in the kitchen and do my little ten-minute ritual of making my coffee. It is key to my mental health and when I come back to my desk, I feel renewed and energized before even taking a sip.
Small rituals like this, or a quick ten-minute mid-day yoga or meditation can make all the difference in keeping yourself balanced while you work from home.