8 ways to balance your home life and remote work (and stay productive)

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Although most of us feel that our lives have returned to normal since 2020, many aspects of life around the world have undergone a radical transformation. The most obvious of these could be the workplace. According to the Pew Trust, six out of 10 American workers still work remotely. About that same number are choosing to work at home. For many, this transition has its challenges. But there are strategies to make a work-at-home life more fulfilling and productive.

Disable work mode

The most prominent hill to climb marks a firm boundary between work hours and home time. While it’s true that employers appreciate the flexibility that remote employees bring to the business, it’s tempting to check the text messages or emails of those who work from home. Boundaries are essential in life, and the most critical boundary for remote workers is drawing that line in the sand.

During the pandemic, students at the school complained that they were sitting in front of a computer for more than seven hours of instruction plus an hour or three to complete homework. This mentality of working 24 hours a day is not healthy for children and is not suitable for those of us who make a living from a home office.

One suggestion to combat this is to set the alarm precisely when work is scheduled to end each day. This can remind us that the day is not just about work. Another option is to set up a voicemail that includes the hours you are available to callers. Changing our mentality from work to rest is fundamental; however, it is just as important to spend our free time without worrying about work.

Related: Remote work is here to stay: Are you ready for the new way of life?

Beat the time crunch

Burnout is common when working from home. Perhaps we feel the stress of being on high alert trying to meet a deadline while longing for our time to relax.

As the leader of a company, employees must set their firm schedules and limits. When workers can create their office hours and set those limits, they are healthier and happier. These are simple moves that keep employees on the job and help keep everyone productive at the same time. Who hasn’t had a brilliant idea while hiking, skiing, or just meeting friends for dinner and deep conversation? It’s important to treat employees as people of integrity, and it’s just as essential that we treat ourselves that way.

Having lists and schedules are also great ways to stay up to date. Staying organized can give us the more personal time we crave, even when we’re meeting work deadlines. Drawing a layout of the day on paper, even in a journal or on a whiteboard, can help us use time efficiently. Watching our lists get whittled down to the last item can be rewarding and help us transition into that much-needed time away from work.

Related: Working from home is leading to record levels of burnout. Is a 4 day work week the solution?

Improvise the workspace

Many of us feel that our home office lacks personality and efficiency. When that happens, it may be time for a makeover. Working in a chaotic space like a messy living room or dirty kitchen can be distracting. Having a place where we can feel productive and stress-free is essential.

For some, working from home is too easy. In that case, white noise or an inspiring playlist can help. Music is an effective stress reducer and can help with learning and concentration.

Good lighting and the right office furniture can make a difference in how our bodies feel as we cross the finish line for the day. Standing or rotating desks can help with comfort and efficiency. Thinking about your workspace design—the right lighting, plants, the right desk and chair, and the right equipment—provides a positive vibe for the workday and energizes us for whatever plans we have in our free time.

keep the energy

Stress can take over at any time. Planning breaks is vital for the mind and body. Every moment of our time is valuable so that we are whole, healthy and free to participate in whatever we are doing, at work or not. These breaks can be as simple as getting some fresh air or taking a few minutes in nature. Even in a high-rise apartment, there’s usually a rooftop area or patio to enjoy the blue sky or smell the blooming flowers.

The therapeutic effect of nature does not have to be a wild experience. Gardening is not just for living on a large property. Indoor plants, flowers or vegetables grown at home can be kept indoors or on a balcony. Taking care of nature calms the mind and helps provide a sense of accomplishment. Getting in touch with nature can make it easier to get back to work.

Structure and planning rule the day.

Preparation is key to staying in control of our time at work and play. It is essential to choose a moment before the working day to prepare. Remote work means teams from all over the world coming together to get things done.

Whenever we work, we can start our “day” with personal tasks, like walking the dog or having a quick breakfast. After that, it’s time to tidy up and organize the workspace. This could be a time to do the day’s to-do list or review responses to emails sent the day before. Developing a pre-game strategy is key to productivity. This strategy can avoid the feeling that the work “never ends” since we have taken charge of our schedule.

Another critical strategy is affirmations. The role positivity plays in our lives cannot be overstated. This could be as simple as saying out loud, “This is going to be a great day!” or “I believe in you!” or “I’m going to be productive today!”

Positive mantras can help us stay focused and motivated. We can free ourselves from the day’s work by saying, “You did your best!” What we say to ourselves will resonate with our bodies. This will make the return to home life meaningful and something we can look forward to while we work.

dress for success

Our clothes are part of how we see ourselves and can affect our mental health. It is essential to strike a balance between dressing for productivity and professionalism versus dressing for the comfort of working from home. In an article summarizing the findings of mental health counsellors, a writer from the University of Edinburgh reported that good hygiene and dress choices could affect our mental outlook.

Wearing professional clothing that provides comfort can affect productivity and attitude at work. Distinguishing professional work clothes and home clothes will make it easier to change between work and home.

Related: Why You Still Have To Dress For Success

let’s get ready

Meal prep is a fantastic way to save time and keep the workday running smoothly. Making several meals ahead of time can provide more room in the day to get work done. The internet is full of recipe suggestions for those struggling with what to make. Consider using a slow cooker or crockpot to prep early. The healthiest meals often take just a few minutes on a stovetop and with few ingredients. Finding an effective storage system is also essential. Freezing and refrigerating leftovers can save the day when we’re pressed for time and can’t leave the desk for long.

Related: 12 Ways to Eat Healthy No Matter How Busy You Are

Make the celebration a routine

Celebrate the end of the day by having a nightly routine. A late-night run, a soothing face mask, a walk in the park or a bowl of ice cream—even meeting friends at a restaurant—can help our mental outlook.

As more of us convert to remote work, self-care is more important to our personal lives and productivity. Feeling safe, creative, and rested during the day can help us grow as individuals and become a more valuable part of the team, helping us learn to celebrate and embrace all the roles we play in life.

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