Finding Balance When Working from Home

When you work from home, it’s easy to let your work consume you, and forget about everything else. However, it’s important to have balance in life – work should be first priority, of course, but be sure to make time for other things as well.  This blog post will share some tips for finding balance when working from home – these tips come from a book called “Working Naked: A Guide to the Essentials of Home Office Life,” by Lisa Kanarek.

  1. Minimize distractions – I talked about ways to minimize distractions in a previous blog post. Outside of what I discussed in that post, Lisa suggests minimizing trips to the kitchen to get something to eat, unless you’re eating a meal or pre-planned snack, not turning on the television, and not getting sidetracked by other things that need to be done, such as cleaning. Use your work time for work, and schedule times for other activities, or get others to help you with them.
  2. Know when to stop working – If you work from home as an employee, this is easy.  But if you work for yourself, or as an independent contractor, it can be tempting to work long hours. If you’re single that might be okay, but if you have a family you’ll start hearing complaints from everyone.  Make sure that when you done working for the day, you shut down your computer and close the door to  your office, and focus on your family.
  3. Don’t eat lunch at your desk – According to Lisa Kanarek, changing the scenery and physically removing yourself from your work will help to clear your mind.  I’ve actually found this to be true – I leave my office when I take my half hour lunch break during my shifts with Apptical, and when  I come back I’m more alert, and more able to do my best job on every call I take.
  4. Schedule regular “dates” with your spouse and children – It’s important to schedule time with your family, so that both you and them have something to look forward to.  One of my co-workers goes out with her husband every Friday – it’s their date night. It gives them something to look forward to at the end of the week.
  5. Take at least one weekday off per month to play – If you work from home as an employee, this may not be feasible, but if you work as a freelancer it  may be easier for you to do.  Lisa Kanarek suggests scheduling this day at the beginning of the month. The day that you schedule could be used to catch up on things or to do something fun like go to a movie.
  6. Make a list of fun things you’ve always wanted to do, and start doing them.  You might visit a museum in your town, or take a guided tour of your town if you don’t know much about it.  This helps you keep your horizons open so that you  have something to talk about other than work.
  7. Use your office for business only.  Don’t use your office for anything other than business. I admit, I have a hard time with this one.  My office gets used MOSTLY for business, but I also have a workout corner set up in my office due to lack of space in my apartment.
  8. Include your spouse in your business – This doesn’t mean your spouse needs to be a partner in your business, it just means  asking your spouse’s advice from time to time.  Even if you work in different fields, your spouse may be able to offer a point of view you hadn’t considered.
  9. Don’t use other parts of your home for business on a regular basis.  In other words, don’t make business-related calls from the chair  you relax in – otherwise it’s  not going to be a very relaxing spot after a while.
  10. If you and your spouse work together, don’t talk about business after hours.  Many couples work together – the ones who are successful attribute their success to being able to separate their work and personal lives.
These are just  a few tips for finding balance – if you have tips you use for finding balance when working from home, I’d love to hear them.

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