Tipping the scales your way for work-life balance
People talk a lot about balance. You’re meant to try to even out the scales, whether that be in regards to food, relationships, study, or the ever elusive work-life balance.
Flexible work arrangements bring with them a tonne of benefits, but there’s no denying they also blur the boundaries between your ‘work self’ and your ‘home self’. And with almost 50% of Australians now spending some of their work week at home, there’s never been a better time to discuss WFH and how it affects a work-life balance.
If you haven’t already today, take a minute to stretch and reset. Then, make a cup of tea, come back to this blog, and read on for our tips on how to uphold a proper work-life balance when working from home.
Start the day right, end the day right
Nearly one-third of WFH’ers find it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance, with higher stress levels than traditional workers.
Think about it – when going into your workplace, you follow a certain schedule. You might make yourself breakfast and have a shower, hop on the bus, scroll through social media, grab a coffee and then start the workday. And likewise at the end of the day, you probably sit down for dinner with family or housemates, and unwind on the couch.
Whatever your routine, there’s a clear division between your work and home selves.
So when you’re working from home, how do maintain that separation? One key way is to establish a structure that works for you, keeping in mind that you start the day right and end the day right.
A couple of habits you could adopt before or after your workday to kickstart that all-important work-life balance are:
- Get about 20 minutes of moderate exercise
- Journal or set up/reflect on the day
- Call a friend or loved one
- Meditate or practise mindfulness
- Set aside time to do something – anything! – you enjoy
It doesn’t really matter what you, as long as you set up habits that bookend your work day. That way, you’ll subconsciously signal to yourself when it’s time to work and time to relax.
Get real about time management
Be honest with yourself – when are you at your most productive? The best part about flexible working arrangements is that workers have more control over their hours.
Talk to your manager about when you work best, and whether it could be possible for your to cater your work hours to this. If you’re a night owl, maybe you could stay back later so you get your sleep-in. If you’re an early riser, you might be able to start your day before others get online, and spend the first few hours on independent work.
Whichever way you work best, make sure it’s working for you.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog my favourite apps for productivity and time management, but here’s how you do it yourself:
- Keep note (through a calendar, to-do list, or app) of how you spend your time.
- Review a typical work week, then a typical work day, in terms of the regular tasks and how long they take.
- Cut out non-essential tasks where possible (should this meeting be an email instead?)
- Make a schedule and stick to it.
Sure, this might feel easier said than done, but this kind of self-awareness is essential for maintaining a proper work-life balance. Your schedule should be realistic and as flexible as you need – remember the work that you put into it now should make your life easier later.
Speaking of a schedule, sticking to it means establishing limits on your work and leisure time, and conveying this to everyone who needs to know.
What are the expectations of your time at work? Does your boss often ask you to stay back late or do tasks outside of your agreed responsibilities? It might be time to have a chat.
Likewise, you might have family members or housemates who expect you to be “always on” if you’re working from home. Having a conversation about boundaries will help alleviate any unnecessary stress now and later down the track.
Some boundaries that could help you establish a healthier work-life balance could include:
- Limiting your access to emails when not working
- Setting aside screen-free or internet-free time
- Putting your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode
- Taking proper breaks, just as you would in the office
- Learning how to say no
Basically, we’re all still learning how to balance the scales of work and life.
Next time you skip lunch to sit at your desk instead, or spend a whole day on your phone instead of working, come back here, read our tips, and try to find that sweet spot!
Remember to always find time to do things that you love. Reminder: work is important, but you are the most important.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.