Most of us, our homes are calling offices at the moment. Establishing a healthy balance between work and life is not an option; it’s a necessity. Particularly those who are raising children.
The ability to work effectively from home requires separation of personal and professional, work and home. When home and office are the same physical location, separating the two can be challenging. Especially when one does not have any experience in remote work.
However, learning how to establish mental and physical barriers between the office and home are not only keys to happiness, but professional success. As most of us know, personal and professional success are often linked. So one can consider a healthy work-life balance as the act of checking off two life goals with one set of guidelines.
Prepare Yourself to Feel Guilty, and Get Over It
It goes for parents and pet owners out there. The transition from a traditional, away-from-home office, to a remote position working in the home, can seem like a breeze at first.
You mean I don’t have to commute to work, deal with coworkers, or answer to a boss? What’s the catch?
For many, the ‘catch’ lies in the temptation that a home continually offers. For parents, the temptation to spend precious hours within the workday – especially afternoons – catching up with children is a daily struggle. Your motherly or fatherly instincts will often kick in as the front door opens, and children arrive home from school.
Am I a bad mother/father by staying engaged in my work task instead of immediately springing up to hug them?
You shouldn’t feel guilty – you are at work. After all – it’s nearly impossible for remote workers to separate their status as mothers or fathers. How to avoid the guilt arising from being near children without interacting? It lies in moderation.
Establish boundaries with yourself and your kids. Let them know that the fact you are at home comes secondary to the reality that you are at your office. You wouldn’t pop out of the company headquarters, drive home, and chat them up for half an hour just. Because your loved ones arrived back from school, would you?
With that said, embrace the perks of working from home. When you get the chance, creep out of the “office”, sneak up on them, give them a big hug. But don’t linger too long. There’s work to be done.
Guilt and Freedom Go Hand in Hand
Don’t get me wrong. Having the freedom to walk outside your office to your kids, pet, or novel, you’ve not been able to put down can be a significant distraction. It requires some self-discipline to avoid distractions.
However, the beauty of working from home is that, if you can manage your time, you can take a break or two from your office. You can indulge in the more beautiful things that make life worth living.
Don’t spend time procrastinating when the kids aren’t home, or the pet is spending time at a friend or neighbor’s house. When they get back, you will feel a strong desire to blow off your professional obligations. Simply put, you can’t blow off those obligations. Use the fun, relaxing, and passion-inducing things in your life as motivation. Whether it is children, a pet, or a hobby, a motivation to work as hard as you possibly can, will push you away from procrastinating.
When your kitty gets back from the groomer or the kiddies hop off the school bus and onto your lap, you can take thirty minutes to hang around, chat, and enjoy their presence without feeling like a slacker. You won’t have to shun them in favor of that work you didn’t spend your solo time completing. And, in turn, you will once again understand what it means to feel the satisfaction of attaining work-life balance.
Separate Family Time from Work Time
For those who find that they have to work on weekends, this can be an extraordinarily complicated task. As a single person, the sacrifice of your time is detrimental, to be specific. But when kids are brought into the equation, the reality of spending your weekends cooped up in the home office can be incredibly depressing.
For this reason, establish – and make your kids privy to – a routine that maximizes weekends between work and family time. If your child has a sporting event on a Saturday morning, for example, make your employer know that you will be working in the afternoon and perhaps even later to meet a deadline.
Contrarily, you planned a family movie night. Give your client as much notice as possible, so they know you will be working bright and early. They may need to be ready to respond to early morning emails or telephone calls.
Life happens, and the time that we spend with our family are the times we are going to remember and savor most. Remote workers who learn to delegate their time consistently and wisely between family time and work time will be happy and prosperous.
To Conclude: Find that Middle Ground
The keys to balancing work and life can be boiled down reasonably simply: planning, communication, efficiency, and separation.
Plan your time around both work and family activities. Clearly communicate with both employers and family members. So that they understand when you have to work and when you can take time off to be with family. Also, openly discuss why both are important. And, whether you are doing your work or lapping up those priceless moments with your family, remain entirely in the moment. Before you know it, you will have this whole work-life balance thing figured out.
Struggling with productivity while working at home? Read our article “How to Increase Productivity Working From Home.”