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How to Get the Work-Life Split Just Right

Updated on January 29, 2015

Working From Home: How to Get the Work-Life Split Just Right

There are many benefits to running your own business from home. As well as the chance to make your own deadlines; avoid the dreaded daily commute and enjoy freedom from VAT costs (at least in the early days), you can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from knowing you are following your dream.

But while there’ll be no boss to answer to, there will be a new boss – you! And that can bring more responsibility, stress and challenges than you ever experienced at your old job.

Try these tips as a starting point for settling into your new lifestyle.

  1. 1. Make a separate space for work stuff only.

If your home will allow it, find a separate room that you can use only for work, and not be distracted by the TV, the dog, or the landline. Fill it only with the things you will need for doing work, such as your desk; your laptop; your notebooks; fax machine, and anything else you may use on a regular basis. And it’s also worth considering not letting other people in the house use these things.

Feel free of course to make the space enjoyable and welcoming. Add photos, inspiring wall hangings, decorative paperweights and fun stationary to spruce things up and make your workstation a cool place to be. Have healthy snacks on hand and access to plenty of water.

If you can’t have a whole room to yourself, try making a ‘work corner’ and use curtains or drapes to mark the area.

  1. 2. Find a routine that works for you, and stick to it.

One of the best things about working from home is that you can create your own working hours. But this means making it a regular thing – not doing what you feel like from day to day.

Some people might like to stick to the typical 9 till 5 day, whilst others might like to work between 11am and 7pm. Or maybe you’re an early bird that likes to be at his or her desk at 7am, and finish between 3 and 4pm. You might choose to work out before starting work; eat breakfast; work for three hours and then eat breakfast...whatever. The most important thing is structure. Our bodies and brains respond best to routine and regularity.

Once you know what works for you, make others aware of it. It can take a long time for friends, family and housemates to accept that you’re working and not just dossing around. But with gentle reiteration, the message should soon sink in and people will know when to leave you alone. (Using ‘do not disturb’ signs on your office door might help.)

  1. 3. Act like you’re headed to the office.

You should wake up the same time every day and put on clothes like you are headed to an office. Pyjamas and sweatpants are for relaxing, so wearing them will only fool your brain into doing just that.

Having particular clothes you would ordinarily wear to an office will help engage your brain and put it in the right mindset for working.

  1. 4. Write down the most important things you need to get done each day.

By starting each day with a list of three to five things you want to accomplish, you’ll head into your workstation with direction and purpose. The feeling you get when you tick these tasks off your list is also satisfying and motivating, and can lead to increased productivity.

If they don’t get done, ask yourself honestly why. It could be due to circumstances out of your control, or perhaps you got distracted and lost focus. Whatever the reasons are, finding causes for incomplete tasks will help start the following day with renewed clarity and purpose.

  1. 5. Keep moving.

Working from home can quickly become stagnant, so integrate plenty of movement throughout your day to keep your body healthy.

You may want to exercise in the mornings, or take a brisk walk at lunchtime or during your breaks. Quick bursts of yoga can also help too, as can walking around the house during a phone call to keep your legs moving. Remember to get up and stretch every 30-40 minutes or so, and always have healthy snacks on hand to avoid trips to the store to satisfy a cookie craving.

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