9 ways to maintain your work-life balance
With working from home becoming increasingly necessary, it's important to find ways to safeguard your work-life balance while you're not able to go into the office.
1. Create a workspace
Having a dedicated workspace in your home is an excellent way to separate yourself from your work at the end of the day. Try to cultivate a routine of switching off your computer and your work phone and putting your work down at 6 o’clock, as you would at the office, and enjoy the luxury of leaving your laptop on your desk. Separate your space by never working on the sofa or the kitchen table; guard your home fiercely by keeping your work where it belongs - in your workspace.
2. Stick to a healthy routine
Stick to as normal a schedule as possible to maintain a normal workday followed by an evening of downtime. Get up in the morning, shower and brush your teeth, get dressed into clothes that make you feel professional yet comfortable, have breakfast, and sit down at your desk once you’re ready to work. If the morning commute helps focus your mind and get you into the right headspace for work, take a walk around the block before you start. Take a lunch break and finish at your normal time before dinner.
3. Bookend your day
Cultivate little habits or rituals to signal the start and end of your workday. You could go for a short walk at the beginning and end of the day (akin to walking to the office from the tube station and back), or start the day with a coffee and end it with a phone call to a friend. These are just small ways to bookend your day and get your brain into gear for work, and relaxed for evening downtime.
4. Get changed
Changing your clothes is another way to reinforce the divide in your day. Get dressed in smart but comfortable clothes for work in the morning, and then change into lounge clothes to relax in when you log off at the end of the day.
5. Turn off your notifications
Make sure there are no work notifications coming through on your personal phone. If it’s absolutely essential you’re reachable, put a system in place with your colleagues to contact you on your home or personal phone for emergencies only, and then you can go back to your desk if needed. Otherwise, enforce your working hours as much as you can.
6. Book annual leave
While it’s tempting to save your annual leave for when it’s safe to travel, it’s really important to take breaks throughout the year. This will help keep you motivated and productive too and allow you to reclaim your home as a personal space. Don’t be afraid to take a proper break from work to avoid burnout, plus you can get household jobs done without interrupting your workweek.
7. Plan the following day
Before you log off, plan out what you need to do the next day. Write yourself a list of things you need to remember, confirm your meetings and check your to-do list is up to date. This will allow you to walk away from your desk with a clear head and no lingering worries to take with you.
8. Guard your breaks
Make sure you’re getting the breaks you need by scheduling your day carefully. Don’t book meetings over lunchtime, or right at the end of the day to make sure overrunning meetings don’t eat into your personal time. You can’t work well without rest and meals, so prioritise them as much as you can.
9. Turn your ‘out of office’ on
It sounds simple, but consider setting an automatic ‘out of office’ email to come on at 6 o’clock on weekdays and at the weekends. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy your evenings and weekends guilt-free, knowing that anyone who has tried to contact you knows your working hours and should be happy to wait for a response. You could include your company’s emergency contact information too, just in case.