It is becoming more and more acceptable and necessary in our society to do at least part of our work or all of our work from home. Particularly if you are an entrepreneur, most likely at first you will be doing almost all of your start-up work from home. How do we stay balanced while working in a home environment? If we are not careful sometimes it can feel like we are always working and always switched on! How do we switch off and make sure that we are staying balanced in our day and meeting all of our other needs and responsibilities?
Here are four work from home tips to help you switch off and stay balanced:
Set a weekly schedule: I have been doing this for years and I feel that it really helps you to determine the best times to work and also meet all of your other responsibilities. You can also clearly see where there are opportunities to save time in your week. I like to do a rough template in google sheets (you could also use excel). Basically just split up your day into half-hour slots and then schedule in everything that you want to get done so that might be work goals, exercise goals, time with kids, time with your partner, errands – I like to try and keep one morning for errands a week so that I can get everything done all at once. Plus add in any other projects that you want to make time for. Life changes all of the time so you need to keep it flexible! Once you have a rough plan in place you can then schedule time blocks on your calendar to help you stay on track. I use Gcal. I have reminders set up for the most important things in my day (like picking up my kids!).
Turn off notifications: I remember a time in the past where I had my phone email notifications switched on and I just responded to email whenever it came through. Now there are so many more notifications it seems! If you are not careful you could go about your day in a reactive state and just be constantly glued to your phone not achieving anything of real value. I like to keep most notifications switched off where possible and just check them whenever I am grabbing a snack or waiting for something. Have a set time to deal with email or social media – preferably later morning or in the afternoon sometime.
Single tasking: To a certain extent we all have to multi-task throughout our day. We can be much more efficient in our work however if we try not to. Multi-tasking is distracting and it takes much longer for us to complete tasks because our brain is constantly switching between activities. Our brains are only designed to carry one thought at a time. Try to be disciplined about outside distraction in work time. If you have a family or housemates get everyone on board so that they clearly know your work times to minimise disruption. If you are doing focused work make sure you are somewhere quiet if that is how you work best. Also, turn off your phone during set times if you need to! I have been recently reading the Pomodoro Technique and I really like the single tasking approach with enforced breaks – it might be something that I might try out soon!
Take breaks: Make set times or cut off points throughout your day when you try to switch off and take a break. This I know is difficult, particularly when you are in the middle of something! So, for example, I have time each morning that I write between 6-7. Ideally, I would stop at 7 and continue on with my other responsibilities but I have gotten into a bad habit of carrying on and eating my breakfast in front of the laptop. I think meal times are really good times to take breaks. Make sure you set a regular lunch time and have a break of at least half an hour, ideally away from a screen! This might also be a good time to fit in some gentle yoga for 5-10 mins. Also, set a point at the end of the day where you stop working for the day. Make sure you shut everything down at this time otherwise it can be all too easy to go back! I am also thinking about having a time where I turn my phone off in the evening. Try out different things and figure out what works for you!
Work smarter so that you can get more work done in less time and be better able to switch off in non-work time.
Do you have problems switching off from work? How do you like to switch off?