Work-life balance tips have always been a popular discussion point for employees and now more than ever. With remote working becoming the new ‘norm’, there are a number of new challenges when it comes to establishing a healthy work-life balance.
Recent studies have highlighted the challenges towards work/life balance when it comes to remote working, namely collapsed boundaries. When your office is also your home, how do you separate work from leisure?
Virtual HQ services enable thousands of businesses to work from the comfort of their own homes. Our home working experts have put together our top 10 tips on creating clear boundaries and finding your work-life balance.
1. Time blocking
Managing your own time can be a big plus, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are easily distracted in their home environment, and find it difficult to stick to self-imposed deadlines.
An article by the New York Times explains the dangers of your workflow being interrupted, whether it is by noisy notifications on your phone or an abundance of Slack messages. Try turning off all notifications on your phone to truly reap the benefits of workplace flow. According to Calm and Positive Psychology, the advantages of flow state include being more productive, heightened attention and mindfulness and greater work satisfaction.
All remote workers need to be efficient with their time – if you know that you only have an hour blocked out to do some work then set the timer, focus and stick to it. Don’t make the mistake of trying to finish just one more e-mail if your time is up – a crying baby or other distractions won’t help you to produce your best work, so better to put it down and pick it back up again at your next allotted block of time.
Some examples of time blocking include the highly popular Pomodoro Technique which uses a timer to break work into 25-minute intervals, separated by short breaks (about 5 minutes). You would usually work through 4 of these 30-minute (25 work & 5 rest) blocks and then take a longer break. However, it is worth trialing different time intervals and seeing which one allows you to benefit from time blocking the most.
2. Match your routine with your chronotype
Wondering what a chronotype is? To put it simply, your chronotype is your internal clock.
Unique to every one of us, there are certain points in the day where you are most productive and times where your energy disappears completely. While some people are most focused in the morning, others hit their peak productivity at midday or even in the evening.
Listen to your body and work out your chronotype. Once you’ve figured that out, plan your day around your productivity levels. For example, if you’re a morning person, don’t leave that detailed report that requires all your brain power until the afternoon!
If you strategically plan your day according to your internal clock, you’ll find your productivity levels increase and your wellbeing at work vastly improve.
3. Take your holiday
According to a recent study, it was found that most UK employees only take up to 62% of their holiday entitlement.
If you’re busy at work or have no event or trip to take annual leave for, it can be easy to keep working through the year without taking a break. Unfortunately, not giving yourself a rest can result in both physical and mental fatigue – and you may not notice until it’s too late, resulting in sick leave.
Break the routine and allow yourself to rest. In fact, taking annual leave without having any plans can do wonders for your wellbeing, giving you a moment to slow down and recuperate.
Trust us – you’ll find yourself completing much more work to a higher standard if you take your holiday entitlement throughout the year.
4. Remember social interaction
Being a remote worker can sometimes be lonely, even more so if you don’t experience daily human interaction. There’s a lot to be said for the simple conversations you might get on a daily commute or at the office.
One way to balance this is to make sure that you get out of the house each day, whether that’s a quick trip to the shops or a meeting up with friends.
5. Make a list – and prioritise
Ever feel like you’re drowning in work and don’t know where to start… so you end up procrastinating and getting absolutely nothing of quality completed all day? We’ve all been there!
If we’re finishing the working day feeling like there’s more on our plate than when we started, the worry or anxiety can eat into our evening or even overnight. While not everyday will be as organised or productive as we hoped, you can keep yourself on track with a trusty to-do list. Our top tip is to take a few minutes at the end of the day to plan for tomorrow and prepare a to-do list. Starting each working day with a clear view of what you want to achieve can be settling and finishing each day with a plan for the following day can help ease anxiety of your workload and upcoming deadlines.
From digital task managers to a long list colour coded by priority, there are endless tried and tested methods for to-do lists. You’ve just got to find the one that works best for you and your personality.
To find a method that fits in with your work style, learn more about four different to-do list methods here.
6. Don’t be afraid to say no
Whether it’s an unexpectedly busy period, you’re understaffed or you want to be known as a hard-working team player, it’s always tempting to pile as much onto our plates as we can. Though, sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew and push ourselves into panic mode trying to get everything done in time.
Saying no when you can’t realistically take on anymore work is in everyone’s best interests. Whether it’s a meeting you really don’t need to be involved in or an additional task which would mean working several days of overtime, put your wellbeing first and consider whether saying yes would lead to an outcome that’s positive for everyone. If it won’t, then don’t be afraid to say no.
7. Take up volunteering
A recent study found that, although they were busy, workers were much happier with their work/life balance when balancing volunteering alongside their job.
Giving your time to something that is meaningful to you can help you learn, develop and feel connected to your community, find volunteering opportunities in your local area here.
8. Plan in something you enjoy every day
Do you enjoy getting outside in nature and the fresh air? Or perhaps you have a favourite mid-morning snack that you just can’t get enough of?
Whatever it is that gives you a burst of joy, small or large, make sure to plan it into your day – every day. Whether it is a daily walk, an exercise class or a coffee break with a friend, schedule these into your diary just like you would every other meeting. Giving yourself something to look forward to that gets you through the day can help lift your spirits and keep your productivity levels high.
9. Set yourself clear boundaries
When it comes to remote working, one of the biggest threats to our work/life balance is the boundaries we create (or don’t create) between work and home.
When you don’t need to leave the office and tackle the daily commute, staying logged on to finish a task can become a regular habit that disrupts your leisure time.
Set yourself clear and non-negotiable boundaries which help you to separate work from home. This should include a designated space for working, which should be as segregated as possible from your relaxation spaces, and a strict finishing time where the laptop is turned off for the night.
10. Ask for help
Unfortunately in 2020, a study found that 79% of British workers commonly experience work-related stress. Though, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not surprised.
Our jobs can lead to damaging amounts of stress that can take over our lives and stop us from reaching that all important work/life balance. If you find yourself becoming tired and suffering from headaches, muscle tension, heart palpitations or sleeping difficulties, these could be symptoms of workplace stress.
One of the simplest, but sometimes the hardest, things we can do is ask for help. Find a colleague or manager who can take something off your plate and help you to breathe. If you’re running your own business, lean on a friend, family member or mentor who knows you well and can offer a fresh perspective. It’s one of the most effective work/life balance tips we can recommend.