Whether you have just started working from home or have been a while but still want to achieve the best work/life balance, here you will get the most effective tips to do so.
Working from home has its own challenges, and if you do not be careful with proper planning and organizing, it can be unproductive, confusing, and challenging.
Most of the time, newbies fail to balance the work and life aspects of working when in the remote working lifestyle.
It takes up some awareness and a lot of strategies and planning to attain the balance and boost productivity and efficiency.
Especially if you have been into a traditional workplace system, this will need some adapting and adjusting to make the best out of it.
Working from homes with many perks and flexibilities, but indeed can become baggage, and you can end up hating your life due to mismanagement and inaction.
But not to worry, here are the most effective and powerful tips and strategies for you to attain better work/life balance, boost efficiency and productivity and get better results.
Maintain Regular Working Hours
The golden rule of completing tasks on time is to set a schedule and just stick to it.
When you have clear and specific guidelines or instructions about when to work and when to not, you function better.
So, it is important to set the exact timings of the day regarding when you are going to start the work and when you are calling the day.
With office hours, it is given but when you work from home, it becomes all blurry, especially as you are working in your pajamas.
The concept of working hours gets diluted and hence even though it seems you are working, chances are, you wouldn’t be getting things done.
That being said, flexibility is the most significant advantage of remote work. Also, when you work according to someone else’s time zone, you might have to stay up late or wake up early.
So it is important to set regular hours of work with strict ends.
Invest In Quality Tech & Software
When you are setting up a home office, it is crucial to make the required investment.
There may be ways to go around and adjust with alternatives and other methods but it can cost you efficiency and quality in your work.
Don’t hesitate to invest in your home office as in the long-term, it can be profitable. It is only going to improve your productivity.
You can certainly add more and more to your initial investment as you go, or as you realize you need it.
For example, over time you may feel like that you need a faster internet connection, SSD, additional monitor or paid software.
Just make sure you don’t over-purchase or go crazy with expensive systems and software which you may not need in the first place.
Use Time-Tracking Apps
You can also use automatic time-tracking applications such as RescueTime. It allows you to see whether you’re sticking to your schedule or not.
It helps you analyze your performance regarding the schedule and working hours. Honest feeding to this data and analyzing will help you understand your own working patterns.
With this, you will be able to see and track which time you’re most productive usually and when it becomes difficult to get things done.
So, for example, if you know you are hyper-productive in the morning hours, something between 9 am to 11 am, don’t just fix a meeting then rather at the least productive hour of the day.
There are other various time-tracking apps like Toggl Track, Hubstaff, Time Doctor, and many more to find out your most productive hours.
Satisfaction gives more. If you are working from home and you are managing your own time then it definitely increases productivity by a long way.
You can take occasional holidays to refresh your mind. But make sure you are not leaving your work in the middle.
There are many techniques that help us to get maximum from our efforts.
In such techniques where you should work for twenty-five minutes continuously and then take a break. It works with a twenty-five-minute countdown timer.
Set Your Working Hours Smartly
Everyone has a different lifestyle, family, environment, and type of job you’re in, along with different capacities to focus or get distracted.
Also, you won’t be as productive all day as you are at a specific time of the day. So it is all about observation and self-awareness when it comes to deciding the working hours for yourself.
If you’re working with an organization remotely that has already set working hours, then you certainly have to manage everything accordingly.
But pick your time frame carefully if you are a freelancer, self-employed, or just free from your organization to work flexibly around the clock.
For example, if you are most productive in the morning hours, it is better to wake up early, like 6 or 7, and then work towards 3 pm.
Also, that might be when your kids come home from school or your wife or husband finishes their work around that time.
So, it will give you peace of mind to work alone, without any distractions, and then again, you will have family time to spend with your wife/husband and kids as you will be free by then too.
It is all about finding your most productive hours, adjusting to your surroundings, and making the best out of it.
Create A Morning Routine
You can decide all you want, that you will sit on the chair and start working right in the morning but that doesn’t work.
Without specifying the time, if you plan to start anything, it will slide towards hours and hours away from its decision time.
Also, even if you just decide to sit at a desk at a particular time, it is not something like guiding yourself toward working through your morning routine.
The morning routine is way more powerful than a clock or a reminder to get you started each day, as that’s the most difficult part.
You have to decide what is in your morning routine that indicates you want to go to work. What hints you towards getting into your work shoes?
It can be :
- Making a cup of coffee for yourself before starting your to-do-list
- Returning just from jogging
- Getting properly dressed
It is about training your mind to prepare for the coming task. When you have a ritualistic activity in your morning, right after which you go to work, it sets your mind to it.
This is quite like a reminder or motivator to your mind as whenever you do that task, it reminds you to start working after it.
These tasks signal specific tasks you do on a regular basis.
The morning routine is a collection of habits or tasks you perform that lead you toward your work. Also, when it comes to working from home, it doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘morning.’
Many remote workers start their day at different times of the day for many reasons; the same can be applied there as well.
Don’t Just Start Working Right After Waking Up
One of the major mistakes that freelancers and remote workers make is they open their laptops as soon as they wake up.
They might just start by checking emails and notes from colleagues on team communication platforms.
It surely feels like you’re using the time at its best as starting early and definitely taking advantage of the no commute aspect of remote working.
But this is the foundation of what you called blurring the lines between work and life-impacting your work/life balance.
So, the best way is to have a morning routine, just like we mentioned in earlier point. You better start by getting fresh up, meditating, or doing some journaling.
Use your morning routine to smoothly move towards your work.
Set Up Multiple Alarms
One of the best ways to make sure that your day moves along as you planned is to set up multiple alarms throughout your daily routine.
The first alarm needs to start in the early morning or whenever you set it up to wake you. The idea is to wake up every day at the same time.
The alarm will prevent you from sleeping in late and start your day at the given time every day. Not just that, it will also improve your sleeping patterns and quality.
Then, you can set multiple alarms as milestones or pillars of the day to move towards. One can be to get you to start working, then another finishes it, again to go for a meeting, and so on.
Some might set up an alarm every hour to check how much they work in the previous hour.
Even alarms should be to give your a break from work for lunch, so you don’t overwork or enjoy breaks in between as well.
If you’re new to remote working or adapting from the traditional methods, it can be confusing especially when it comes to communication.
And that creates a lot of trouble at work. So whether you are working in a team or need to communicate with different departments or your team leader, make sure to over-communicate.
Tell them about your schedule and your availability a lot more often than you think needed.
Don’t just assume they will remember everything; put things in writing and remind them every now and then.
Whenever you finish the task, inform them. You don’t have to explain in paragraphs or constantly repeat yourself all the time. Just a few clear and precise words will work.
Update Your To-Do List Every Morning
This will help you to achieve everything you need to do every day. Have a dedicated time to check your to-do list and add things to do that day.
Your schedule might be hectic, and you have too much on your mind. It can be overwhelming. To-do lists can help you get through your day with one thing to complete at a time.
Also, it helps you to complete the task as per the priority and its deadline. And when you cross the tick on the particular task, you feel accomplished and fulfilled to move further.
Ensure you also set a time limit for all the tasks on your to-do list.
Setting Up Ground Rules For People Around You
This is way more important and a very underrated reason for not being able to complete a task.
Most of the time, when you are unable to reach your higher efficiency of work or unable to complete a task, one of the reasons is distractions.
And people surrounding you can be the biggest distraction when you work from home.
You would realize how your spouse or kid can disturb you, or just a friendly visit from your neighbors can eat your precious hours.
It becomes essential to set ground rules with your family, spouse, kids, neighbors, and friends that a certain working hour is off-limits for interactions.
Tell them that you’re not to be disturbed at those times. If anything is important, ask your spouse or another family member to take the message for you.
Avoid any visitations or personal time at your productive hours. Create a space where you have ultimate privacy and not to be disturbed when in that area.
When you start working from home, it is safe to assume for people that you’re free, including your family members.
So it is important to tell them about your schedule, so they don’t expect you to run any errands meanwhile, like taking the dog for a walk or shopping for groceries, etc.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Taking breaks actually makes your task complete faster than not taking. Well, it may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true.
Well, working without breaks may and will overwhelm you. Even if in the short term, you get things done for a particular goal, you will drain your energy faster.
The Worst part of not taking breaks is it will make you less enthusiastic about the work and leave you burnt out.
Give yourself the necessary breaks right after every sprint of work you do. Get away from the computer every once in a while.
Avoid screen time in your breaks, including your laptop, TV, and mobile phone. The best use of short breaks is to stretch yourself, go for a short walk, or drink some water.
Make sure you have short breaks and even a large break, preferably the lunch break right in the middle of your day.
Have a short break of 5 minutes or 10 minutes after every 1 hour or even less. Have a large 1-hour lunch break once you go halfway through your work.
Even if you can take micro-breaks of 10- 20 seconds to look away from your screen or move your body a little, it is worth it.
Too much sitting and consistent screen time can be unhealthy and also leads to a sedentary lifestyle.
Interact In Remote Meetings
Interactions with your colleagues are necessary as they not just improve business communication but also make you feel included and accounted for.
Remote working can be confusing, especially if you are adopting a more traditional method. Maybe your organization is also adjusting to this new system.
So, there can be communication gaps, confusion, and delays. So showing up to the meetings and engaging, asking questions, and sharing your points make the whole process easier.
It prevents the possibility of miscommunications or communication gaps. Also, it makes you feel less isolated and part of a company, just like in traditional working systems.
Make Sure You Have A Dedicated Office Space
More than anything, you need a dedicated work or office space that is exclusive for working only.
In an ideal world, remote workers tend to have two computers, one for work and one for personal use, to make things separate and more secure.
But it is not practical, given different circumstances, infrastructure, and financial situation of employees, to have two workspaces or systems.
But it becomes essential to at least have a dedicated space exclusive to work that is separate from the bedroom, hall, or any other part of your house.
There you need a dedicated desk and chair, laptop or desktop connected to the internet and preferably with additional mouse and keyboard, monitor as well if possible.
On your computer or desktop, you must have a separate section for work folders; even having different partitions in the hard drive would be better.
Also, how you use your laptop must determine your working hours.
For example, you can hook your laptop with a mouse, keyboard, and/or monitor when you’re working hours.
Apart from it, when you use a laptop for personal work, you can have it in your lap or use it in your bed as well.
These small points of differentiating your working hours from your personal time, whether it is the space, time, or way you use your desktop/laptop, help to maintain a better work/life balance.
Create A Rewards System
The Reward system works great because it leverages the basic psychological nature of human beings to work on the basis of rewards and punishments.
The human brain tends to work great to achieve a reward or avoid punishment. This can help you with your procrastination or boost your efficiency toward completing tasks.
A reward can be anything that you really love or want to do. In fact, you can use your distractions as a reward if that you seek most while working.
For example, after completing a particular task or project, you can reward yourself with a piece of cake or sandwich, or you can watch your favorite TV series episode.
You can also reward yourself by checking your social media or enjoying a cup of coffee in the cafe downstreet.
Reward systems will help you get things done on time and also make you feel fulfilled.
Never Work In Your PJs
Remote working, freelancing, or working from home might be popular for the term ‘ working in your pj’s but it is not advisable.
It signifies the flexibility and comfort of working from home but working in your PJs can impact your productivity and efficiency.
When you hear the catchphrase ‘ dress for success” for corporate scenarios, it is indeed true, and it can work for people who work from home.
It is all about getting into the right mindset for work. So dressing up signals your mind to be attentive and serious about your work.
Also, being well-dressed while remote working also keeps you always ready for any video call or conference you would have to take up.
Don’t Compromise or Short-Length Your Breaks
Make sure when you take breaks, you take it in their entirety, not halfway or exchanging work. Also, never short-change yourself during these breaks from work.
Especially don’t compromise your lunch-hour break or meal break.
Even if you feel that you can continue working and do not feel like letting the work go, it is wise to leave it and take a break.
If you have trouble picking yourself up from the screen while working, use apps such as TimeOut for Mac or Smart Break For Windows.
These apps will let you set a time schedule where it will lock you on your computer in those breaks.
Another app, as we discussed earlier, RescueTime, also has a break feature where you can take breaks of 15 minutes and an hour as well.
If you do not want to use these apps, you can set up an alarm on your phone for these breaks or a reminder on your computer.
It is important to use your breaks fully. For example, if you have taken a one-hour break for lunch but you return to your desk in 40 minutes, walk away for another 20 minutes.
Even if you have 5-minutes of breaks remaining, use it as a break and not as work in any capacity.
Taking breaks not just boosts productivity but also increases your efficiency. It prevents you from getting burnt out as well as having health issues.
Have A Separate Phone Number
To avoid confusion, you must have a separate phone number that will be exclusively used for calling or receiving calls from colleagues, clients, and other work purposes.
It can be a landline or a second mobile phone as well. Even if you can have a different SIM card in the same phone, that might work too.
If not, you can also get VoIP services such as Skype or Google voice, which are ideal for international calls.
Just like having a dedicated separate office space, this also helps you achieve a better work/life balance.
Invest In Expensive Comfortable Office Furniture
The term ‘Expensive’ might be relative, but the idea here is to not hesitate to spend a little more on the quality aspect of the office furniture.
You are going to be spending a lot of time for a long-time in your home office or workspace. It needs to be comfortable, so it helps you in efficiency and productivity.
Also office furniture also aids in organizing the workspace, so consider getting yourself a large desk, bookshelves, and a comfortable ergonomic chair.
Use a monitor arm and other similar products to maximize your desk space and organize the space to boost your efficiency.
Get Out Of Your Home Every Now And Then
Working from home can be tedious and boring after a while. It is important to keep yourself active and agile, so make sure you get air every now and then.
At least twice a day, move out from your house for any reason, for picking up laundry, shopping for groceries, walking the dog, or even just for a walk.
The body needs movement and fresh air; also, sitting too much on your chair affects your blood circulation.
So, fresh air, some walking, and natural light can bring your energy back to work again fully.
However, in this period of the pandemic, see how much you can go outside and to what extent. You can also just walk on your terrace or just around the nearest part or street in front of your house.
When there is not a pandemic or relatively safer, cafes, co-working spaces, and libraries are great to get a break from your monotonous sedentary lifestyle of remote working.
In fact, you can work from cafes and other remote-worker-friendly spaces.
Make sure, in these pandemic times, you assess the current situation and only go out if safe or advised.
Another thing is you don’t have to go to crowded places. Gardens, long streets, etc are great places to freshen up.
Use a VPN
When using an office desktop or laptop along with the internet, it is better to use a VPN to connect to your network.
In fact, it is highly suggested to use VPN, especially for work purposes, whenever you connect to a network that you do not control.
This includes the internet you use often sitting in coffee cafes, restaurants, co-working spaces, hotels, airports, and other spaces as well.
However, organizations or corporations often have their own VPNs set up where any off-site employees will need to access certain servers or particular websites.
These particular websites or servers basically store essential information that is only used by company employees internally.
Even with that case, it is better to get a VPN for Home. You better get habitual of leaving your network connection with a VPN or make it automatically connected as you switch on your system.
Also, it is suggested to not use corporate VPN for personal searches as your organization can see what you’re doing if they want.
Ask Your Employer For What You Need
If you are working from home during this pandemic, and it is all new for you, it can be a little overwhelming at the start.
Especially adhering to this new lifestyle and working routines, and then there come infrastructural challenges.
So, if your organization or company for which you’re working from home supports the setup, you can ask for any equipment that is essential to make this work.
It is better to request for required equipment as soon as you start working from home or within the days you realize you need them.
Do Stretching & Regular Exercise
Remote working is a long-sitting job and puts you into a sedentary lifestyle which brings a lot of health issues if you’re careful.
The best way to cope with it is to keep stretching in breaks during working hours. Whenever you get a break, whether it is 5 minutes or 1 hour, do some stretching or move yourself a bit.
During a long break or lunch break, you can go for a short walk or do some quick exercise.
Exercises tend to naturally boost endorphins which increases enjoyment, happiness, and interest level to things.
And these things are very helpful in productivity and have a tremendous impact on the day, improving your health and quality of work as well.
Request For Required Equipment Beforehand
It is important that you set everything up to make yourself comfortable working from home. Do not let anything impact your productivity, and communicate to your employer regarding it.
This equipment can be a laptop, keyboard, mouse, software, printer or desk, and any other logistic or non-logistic requirements and support as well.
Most of the time, organizations that are familiar with and used to working with remote employees already have a budget for the home office system.
All you have to do is be aware and proactive and ask your organization regarding these budgets and even ask for a loan agreement to finance these arrangements.
Many big companies often bring a consultant or expert into this adapting towards work from home to help employees this migration.
Take Day-offs Every Week
Working remotely can make you feel like you’re working all the time, so it is important to separate the working hours and days from the non-working ones as much as possible.
Schedulings, morning routine, and deciding set working hours already help you there a lot. But also you need to take a day off every week just like with traditional offices.
Don’t get tempted to work on your day off. However, if you’re working with an organization, they already must have a day off every week, usually Sundays.
Some companies even give weekends, that is, two day-offs, Saturdays and Sundays.
Make Sure To Get Sick-Days
Don’t forget to take sick days whenever you don’t feel good. Don’t try to work from bed or start from mid-day.
Whether you’re a freelancer or self-employed, you might get tempted to go through your illness and cope with it but still work the day.
Focus on your long-term wellness and health, so it is better to get a sick day or two, rest, and come back with full energy.
Socialize With Your Colleagues Remotely
There are certainly tremendous benefits of working from home, but one of the worst disadvantages is not having a social circle around you.
In-office, you have colleagues around you to connect with, work with, engage or interact and even socialize in breaks, but that doesn’t happen with remote working.
So, loneliness, isolation, and disconnect from people become eminent in remote working, and this becomes more difficult for extroverts.
Even though introverts take this in a better way, they still lose their chance to socialize and can feel isolated and alone.
So, to counter this, it is better to socialize with your colleagues and co-workers or even find working buddies.
Companies with remote working cultures themselves offer a platform or way to socialize with each other through a communication channel.
For example, some organizations use Slack which is a team messaging app to not just communicate but chat, socialize, share interests, and talk about things as well.
Even if you are introverted and do not enjoy interactions as much, in the long run, it is always good to have a circle of similar remote working friends or colleagues from your organization.
Schedule the Work
It’s a free life, so you can manage and schedule your work as per your time. Of course, you can wake up and work at your time of convenience.
But it should be well organized. The entrepreneur should Set to some working hours and work during those hours.
You may not have to keep it for the boring, routine stereotype 9-5. It gives freedom to set the working timing as per comfort level and work.
Use Calendar or Planner
Along with a to-do list, using a calendar or planner makes everything get done in the best way possible, achieving the peace of mind you need every day.
Always keep a calendar handy, preferably using software or platforms like Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, or other planner-based apps, and keep notes of events, meetings, and tasks as per the date.
Whether something needs to be done a month after or a week later, you can put it on the calendar to remind you.
It helps you to plan things on a long-term basis, whereas to-do lists will help you to get through the day by achieving everything you need at the day.
Use Only One App To Fulfil A Specific Purpose
One of the most confusing and overwhelming things for remote workers is to adapt to a single application or platform for a particular purpose.
Whether it is for note-making, calendars, scheduling, or to-do, you need to have one app for all if possible or at least one for one sole purpose.
Having multiple applications for to-do lists or calendars is only going to confuse you and then overwhelm you to inaction and frustration.
Even the best option is to try to find an app or platform which can do most of the things you need. The more central your management system will be, the better efficiency you will have.
As for using the project management apps, it is better to opt for just one. If your organization is already using a particular platform, then you certainly need to go for that.
Eat Healthy Snacks And Meals
What you’re eating, when you’re eating, and how much you’re eating makes a huge difference to your remote working lifestyle.
It can impact your productivity, efficiency, health, and also mind.
One of the problems with working from home is you get full access to your kitchen and refrigerator. Remote workers are often tempted to get themselves more snack breaks than needed.
They can just consistently feed on leftover pizza, wafers, cookies or any other snacks, usually not healthy.
At least in the office, this gets very limited, but at home, it becomes impossible to stop hovering around the kitchen.
But these tendencies of overeating and compulsive eating will certainly be unhealthy. Not to mention how overeating can make you lazy and doozy in the day.
In fact, the chances are, if you are feeling lazy or not competent around the day, you might not have nutritious and healthy food.
It is suggested to have a light but satiated and nutritious breakfast in the morning and then again not heavy, fried, or greasy food in lunch.
If you have a tendency to snack or have a sweet tooth, it is better to use that as a reward for working successfully on weekends or at the end of the day.
Work Distraction Free
Every youngster loves their Job works to be done at home. It sounds really cool and satisfactory for those who love the home.
Life has no restrictions, you can wake up on your time and dress up as you like, and Nobody is there to shout over you. It’s like enjoyable moments for the on every work.
Such a distraction-free atmosphere really impacts directly on the working output, and it gradually increases the productivity of our work.
The whole thing sounds so cool, and one can’t resist taking pleasure. But it is not as easy as it actually sounds.
Of course, there’s fun, but your work productivity can be dropped to the ground.
Working in the office puts pressure on doing and completing things in a particular time-bound.
The Entrepreneur feels the best perk of working from home is working in your favorite pajamas.
Experts and successful people who work from home say you need to dress up and sit for work. This prepares your mindset for the work.
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“Vision, strategy, and inspiration – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of “TheLeaderboy” dedicated to leadership and personal development. As a self-taught practitioner, I have been studying the principles of effective leadership for the past decade and my passion lies in sharing my insights with others. My mission is to empower individuals to become better leader