I work from home and I’ve said it a million times…there’s no such thing as work / life balance. When you live where you work and you work where you live, something is always pulling at your thoughts. Not long ago, I wrote about how to use routine to improve your life. And that was an important post…because without finding a system that works for you, you’re going to go bald
without the use of Taxotere…from pulling your hair out. You’ll hate yourself and the work from home process (and, by the way, I do not think that everyone is cut out to work from home).
Ultimately, finding the ideal methodology that works for you and your family will take time…and tweaking. I’ve worked from home for a few years now and I still make changes, but I have some core things in place that help keep my world rockin’ along. Here are 4 things to do immediately to improve your work / life integration.
Realize It’s Integration and Not Balance
This is the first and most important thing you can do to improve your work at home life. There is no such thing as work / life balance. Even if you worked outside of the home, it would be integration and not balance. Why? Because we worry about our families / homes / pets / social life when we’re working outside of the home. When we’re home, we have thoughts related to business intruding upon our personal time. And it’s no different when you work from home.
When I’m developing content for clients, interviewing others for news articles, in a web meeting, or re-writing a college-level business class, there’s a good chance that I’m also worrying about any number of things that have to do with house chores, appointments, or whatever.
And when I’m not working and focusing on being Suzy Homemaker (and I do enjoy it, so please don’t misunderstand me), I’m also worrying about client projects, emails, and Goddess knows what…
Work and life exist side by side. They are part of a bigger entity…me. It’s not about balance. It’s about a peaceful co-existence within my own thoughts. And that takes work on my part. The house will not explode because the dishes aren’t done when I usually have them done by. My brain might…but the house won’t. And this brings me to my next point.
Enjoy the Perks
There are a shit load of perks to working from home. What you enjoy may be different from what I enjoy. I enjoy taking a hot bath in the middle of the day. I enjoy taking a walk. I enjoy taking the dogs out into the backyard. I enjoy making a great dinner for my family from scratch. I enjoy going out to lunch with my husband.
Working from home is hard and learning to take advantage of the perks can go along way to stopping depression and feelings of isolation.
Get a Basic Routine
Yes, really. I know…I know…you thought about pajamas all day and working whenever you want. Yet, both of those ideas have fatal flaws. Lounge about too much and (a) you won’t be as productive (science says it, not just me) and (b) you’ll start to feel like a slob (again, science and not just me). Get up. Get dressed. Don’t do your makeup if you don’t want to, but take a shower and get dressed. Have an occasional PJ day, but don’t go overboard. (You likely will and then you’ll remember I told you not to do that…so you’ll fight off depression and force yourself to get dressed and realize you feel better…and that I was right. Save yourself the hassle. I learned from experience.)
Working whenever is dangerous. We all have at least one friend and one family member who doesn’t think working from home is real work…and…or you can just work whenever you want. So, they want you to babysit for free because they work (invalidating what you do and not paying you for your time)…wanting you to run errands for them while they work (invalidating what you do and the importance of your clients). And the whole working whenever? To some degree, sure. If you’re a night owl, do your thing. If you like mornings, do your thing. If you just wanna work while the kids are in school, do your thing. Whatever….but be consistent. Clients need to know when they can contact you. And you need to protect your time from your friends and family. If you don’t, you’re going to burn out. You’ll decide to “do it later” and either later never comes or you’re so tired you screw it up and your client drops you (rightfully so) like a bad habit.
Create a basic routine for work and stick to it.
Just Say No to Looking at Social Media
When you should be working, just say no to looking at social media even if it is “just for a minute.” Don’t waste your valuable work time by fucking around. Some people justify it by being better able to pace your work. If you’re a fast worker, fantastic. So am I. So I get more work. When I take flat rate projects and work fast, it means that I make more on the hourly average than if I was fucking around on social media. Save it for your own time.
I know, I know…”I need to be found on social media.” Sure, but there are tools like Buffer that can be filled up in advance that can post for you. Messages will be there when you have time to read and return them.
Social media can really eat into your day. And you’re totally in control of this.