I absolutely LOVE working from home. I love having the freedom to schedule my own hours, to be able to work in my pjs if I want to and to have Mr. Purrie sleeping at my feet while I do it! My business will be 4 years old at the end of this summer (woo hoo!) and I'm so excited to say that I've been working it full time ever since I started. One thing that has always remained a challenge, however, is balancing my work life and my personal life.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a workaholic; I LOVE my job. And when you combine working from home with a job you adore, it's really hard not to spend most of your waking hours working! And on top of that, I live alone. Yes, this makes it even MORE easy to spend more time working and even more difficult to lead a balanced life.
Over the last few years I've developed a few things that I have put into practice to help me maintain both a solid work schedule and also a life separate from work. Because while work is awesome, it's also equally important to have time spent away from work. Here are 10 things that have worked beautifully for me!
1. Have a designated work space.
It's much easier to separate your work and every day life if you have a specific place set aside for work. Don't make your "office space" on the kitchen table, on the living room couch or in the bedroom. If you have a separate room that you can dedicate specifically to being your at-home work space, that's amazing! Or if you're like me and don't have the extra room, designate a corner or section of a room.
2. Decorate and organize your work space so that you are inspired to work there!
This is so important. You want your work area to be organized, clean and appealing so that you are actually motivated and excited to work there! And decorate it too. The cuter, the better.
3. Schedule your work hours.
The beauty of working from home (in most cases,) is being able to schedule your own work hours. To help separate your work life and home life, it's important to set daily (or weekly) hours that you'll work each day. If you have a family, this is also important. Maybe your kids get home from school at 4pm, so you know that you need to have your work day end by 4pm! Set hours and stick to them. Obviously the other beautiful part about working from home is the flexibility, so if something important does come up, you can almost always re-arrange your work hours for that day/week. If you are disciplined, the occasional reschedule is not a problem and can be quite refreshing! For example, occasionally I will simply NOT feel like working AT ALL on a particular day. (This doesn't happen often, just occasionally!) So I might instead take the day off spending it doing something that'll recharge my batteries while putting in the extra hours during the remainder of the week.
4. Daily work to-do lists!
Super important for staying on track and being productive. I love to set monthly and weekly goals, but it's important to break those down into daily tasks. At the end of every work day, I create my to-do list for the following day. This clears my mind and also lets me know exactly what I need to get done when I wake up the next morning.
5. Limit your e-mail access.
I check and respond to my e-mail once a day in the morning. Occasionally if I'm expecting something I will check it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. That's it. Period. Leaving your e-mail open and/or checking it all day is a recipe for overwhelm and distraction. Constantly seeing the little number pop up when you get a new e-mail and having to check it when you're in the middle of doing something else is distracting and time wasting. And if you have the e-mail app on your phone that notifies you eeeeevery time you get a new e-mail message, if you can't resist the temptation of checking it, turn it off or delete it. I do not have my work e-mail on my phone and it is GREAT.
6. Avoid personal distractions.
Create your work space in a place that is as free from distractions as possible. I will usually turn my phone to silent and set it away from my desk while I'm working. Also, get off Facebook. I am still guilty of breaking this rule by keeping it open all too frequently, but I'm getting better. And while we're at it, limit the amount of times that you check Facebook daily. Or limit yourself to 5-15 minutes of daily Facebook time. If you have any other personal internet time suckers, close those out while you are working.
7. Close your "office doors" at a specific time.
Set your hours and when you are done, stop. I am still working on getting better at this one because in the evenings I tend to want to keep working because I love my work so much, haha. But no matter what, I try to never work past 8pm. I like to have at least 3 hours of non-work time before bed.
8. Limit your work talk.
If you love your job (or even if you don't), you might be tempted to talk about it all the time. It's natural to want to talk about positive work developments or to complain about things that are discouraging you, but if you have a significant other, create a time limit on the amount of job-related talk at the end of the day. Do the same with friends. Your mind needs a break from work!
9. Schedule downtime.
Seriously. Maybe it's a date night once a week, a weekly coffee outing with a friend, an afternoon walk, 30 minutes of meditation, a bubble bath, whatever. While work is important, it's also just as important to intentionally schedule a little free time and to connect with those that are important to you. Don't let your mental health and relationships fall by the wayside!
10. Keep a positive attitude!
Working from home is awesome. And hopefully, you are working from home doing something that you love. Take time to remember and be thankful for all the amazing things working from home has to offer! And lastly, if you have a cat like I do, you can expect your kitty to take over your chair every single time that you get up. Even if you're only away for a minute.
(You see what I'm dealing with every time I get up to go to the bathroom?! How am I supposed to move him with that adorable fluffy face? …)
Yep, Mr. Purrie pretty much rules my workspace.