7 practical tips for a good work-life balance when you work from home

“Nothing is difficult if you’re used to it.”

–┬áKashmiri (on habit)

Many of you will be working from home these days and I am sure you had to get used to that. I know I had­čśë.

Although I am used to correcting homework and tests at home and I always prepare my lessons at home, working 100% from home is a different story all together (I miss my classroom and the interaction with my pupils­čśó).

After 2 weeks of working from home I kind of got used to my new way of teaching, but I felt that some fine-tuning was still needed to get a better work-life balance. That’s why I searched for tips how to make working from home work well. I am happy to share some of these tips with you this week so you can profit from them too!

1. Structure your day

Working from home means that your normal routine and structure are gone. Because of this missing routine and structure you risk working more hours (which does not mean these are effective hours by the way) or just the opposite.

It’s not only about getting your working hours right, but also how to make sure others don’t disturb you while you are working or to avoid checking the news over and over again (one Corona update a day is more than enough I’d say). And how about squeezing in household chores while you are working?

It really helps to structure your day, so you know what working hours are and when it’s time for your private life. Since many of you will not live alone, it is necessary to balance the needs of everyone in your household and to structure the day such that everyone can work well and relax well.

One of my children has got a very strict “online” timetable and we have taken this as a guideline for our family schedule. We all start our working day when her school starts and breaks and lunch are in line with hers. As soon as the working day starts, everyone closes the door of their room, so there is no disturbance at all.

Because our days are structured Swiss-style (punctual & precise), we all know exactly when it’s time for work and when it’s time to relax (which is equally important as getting your work done).

2. Use rituals for separating work & private life

Rituals also help to separate work and free time. Make sure it is clear for you when and where you work and when and where you have free time. Having a specific spot in the house where you work (and only work) helps a lot.

With everyone working or studying at home, I currently work in the living room, the dining table being my desk. I deliberately sit on a certain chair when working and on another one when enjoying a meal, writing my blog or doing a board game. It’s a super simple solution to separate my work and private life, even when it takes place at the same dining table.

Another ritual in our household is that my husband and I always end our working time by taking a short walk together. It feels like walking home after work.

This kind of rituals help to separate working at home from being at home. I am sure you can find suitable rituals for your family too.

3. Dress for work

One pitfall of working from home is that you tend to underdress: putting on your most comfy clothes since you are home and people don’t see you anyway (well, maybe they see your top when doing a video-conference). Tempting, but not a good idea when you want to have a better work-life balance while working from home.

When you dress like you are going to work, even though others don’t see you all dressed up, it feels like you are at work. It kind of triggers your brain to get into the needed work mode.

So, let’s keep those comfy clothes for after-work-hours and dress as if you are going to work. You can even use a change of outfit as another ritual to separate work & private life.

4. Meet others

Working from home also means you do no longer meet your colleagues. Make sure to stay in contact on a regular basis via some kind of conference call. It is the closest you can get to what you were used to. I have read that some people even have their weekly after-work-drinks virtually, which is great when that is a ritual at work.

I have regular virtual meetings with my colleagues. Not the real thing, but better than not seeing anyone at all and much better than just mailing or sending messages. Contact with others is vital for our well-being, so use the techniques we have at our disposal these days and stay in touch, not just with your colleagues, but also with your family and friends (we are aiming at improving our work-life balance)!

5. Sit, stand & walk while working

Let’s also have a look at how you should work, since you risk sitting more than ever when working from home. I mean, you literally do not have to walk a metre or two to get to your work. Gone is also that walk to your colleague’s desk for a question or those few steps to the copy machine or the printer. You will probably also sit on the sofa or behind your computer when having your coffee instead of standing around a coffee machine with a colleague.

That’s why you should make sure you create situations in which you can stand or walk. A phone call is an excellent opportunity to do standing or walking (you sound more clear and confident that way as well, which is an additional bonus­čĹŹ).

You can also easily create a standing desk. Take out your ironing board, put a book on it, your laptop and voilà, you can work standing as well.

Look for opportunities to stand up and walk during the day and grab those moments! Your body will love you for this.

I deliberately do not put all the books I need on the dining table, which means that I have to stand up and walk several times during my working day in order to get what I need.

6. Take regular breaks

At work you will have regular mini breaks; a colleague who comes to your desk with a question, a walk to the coffee machine and so on. These mini breaks may get lost when working from home. Make sure to implement alternative mini breaks, such as standing up and stretching after half an hour of sitting behind your computer or simply rotating your shoulders at regular intervals. When you have stairs in your house, why not get up and down the stairs every hour? A 20-minute power nap is an easy and excellent way to boost your energy level if you feel you need such a boost.

I for one leave my phone in my bedroom, so I have an excuse for both a little walk and a little break­čśë.

7. Change your diet

Even though you make sure you walk and stand while working, chances are big that you move less when working from home. If that is the case, make sure to take in less calories than you are used to. Top up your veggie consumption (few calories and healthy) and make sure to eat some more protein. Your muscles will love you for that plus they work wonders for your digestion.

I deliberately do both and it feels super healthy. On top of that I start my day with a 30 minute workout and end my working day with a walk, which makes me feel very energetic and fit.

So far my tips. Feel free to add your tips for a better work-life balance when working from home. I am always open to learn something new and so are my readers. Thanks a lot for reading & sharing and…

stay home, stay healthy and stay happy!

Love,

Lieske

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6 Comments

  1. I can imagine you miss ,,your children,,. It must be very quite around you. Now that Gerben is at home to, we set some rules. Get out of bed at 07.00. I of course have already got a at home routine. But we do our own things, he has enough to do around the house. We keep out normal eat routine during the week. And in the weekend we have a glas of wine and eat a bit more different and snack a bit more and get out of bed a bit later. So that we have a difference between the normal days and the weekends! Stay safe and positive my friend!

    1. That’s a great idea Nancy, to have a different routine at the weekend, to make sure you still “feel” that it is weekend! When I was still going to school for my work, I often squeezed in a bit of work now and then in the weekend. With the lockdown I deliberately don’t. My way of marking weekend as weekend.

      You stay safe too dear.Thinking of you regularly! Love, Lieske

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