For many entrepreneurs and remote workers, achieving a work-life balance that allows them to be productive at work and enjoy their time off to the fullest can be a daunting task. However, this is not just another check mark on your to-do list. A work-life balance is essential to your productivity and helps you avoid burnout.
Here are just a few ways that you can work towards achieving the ideal work-life balance that benefits you.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: a concrete schedule of your working hours is essential to maintaining your sanity and helping you avoid burnout. Without a solid remote work schedule, you may experience “work creep” by answering emails, phone calls, and chats throughout the day and into the evening.
If you are an entrepreneur, post your work schedule on your website or social media page so that potential and existing clients know when they can contact you and when they can expect a response to their questions. For a remote worker, it’s important to share your working hours with your coworkers so they do not contact you outside your working hours.
Sure, we all have taken that emergency phone call at dinner or when we’re technically on a break. The trick is to identify true emergencies, and not to allow those one-time phone calls turn into habitual offenders. Your schedule is sacred, and should be treated as such.
Your routine before and after your remote work hours are equally important. In the morning, a good routine can signal your brain that it’s time to gear up for work. An evening routine after you close up shop for the day, such as quick workspace organization, filing important papers, making a mug of tea, and putting everything away can help you wind down and shift into leisure mode.
One of the keys to a work-life balance is having leisure time outside of work. If blocking off every day for time when you don’t work makes you feel a little uncomfortable, you might be working just a little too much. If you need to scale down, start by blocking off a couple of evenings a week.
Sometimes the nature of our businesses don’t allow us to take full weekends off, but do try to block off at least one full day for rest, errands, and spending time with your family and loved ones. It can be easy to fall into a pattern of working seven days a week if you’re not careful. If you rely solely on your calendar, schedule time for yourself there and do not change it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The constructive use of your time greatly influences how your day will go. If you spend too many of your work hours procrastinating, chances are that you’ll spend a lot of your leisure time working instead of doing fun activities. And if you spend too much of your leisure time working, you can start to feel burnt out more quickly than you normally would.
Separation of time is important here. If you need to work in the evenings, but you typically have a family dinner every week at a certain time, make sure it is on your schedule and block yourself off as unavailable so that you don’t end up spending too much of your dinner time at work. Set boundaries for yourself with your work and prioritize activities that are important to you.
If you have to, set a timer for yourself while you work and while you play. If you find that you procrastinate on social media rather than working, set a timer for yourself. Work for a predetermined time, followed by a quick break that is also timed. Sometimes we can spend far more time browsing the web than we intended which pushes everything on the calendar back and leads to a more stressful work-life situation.
Let’s face it: we’re not robots. Your brain needs time to shift between activities. Scheduling work tasks back-to-back with leisure tasks is a scenario that’s bound to lead you into that work creep danger zone. Make good use of calendar reminders to notify yourself of upcoming shifts in your work, and give yourself at least a 15 minute buffer between tasks. Take note of what’s upcoming on your calendar and make sure to schedule yourself a larger buffer of time if you need to change clothes or commute to meetings or social gatherings.
Calendar reminders are great to use for time buffers, but not a failsafe. If you find that your work is carrying over too far into your buffer, don’t beat yourself up. Take note of where your time is being spent and make a mental note to do better moving forward.
Our one constant companion that can both help and hinder us at any stage of the day is the cellphone. If you are prone to distractions on your phone when you are working, turn it off for certain periods of the day. If your work phone and personal phone are one and the same, turn off all notifications by switching to Do Not Disturb mode.
Conversely, if you are prone to checking and sending work emails when you are hanging out with friends and family while not at work, consider turning it off altogether, or at the very least keeping it out of reach. While having everything at our fingertips can be extremely convenient for business owners, it can also hinder your ability to enjoy time outside of work.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to achieving a work-life balance. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and take the necessary steps to avoid procrastination and work creep. Set a concrete goal for how much time you want to spend at work and at play. If you need to heavily schedule your life down to the minute in the beginning, do so. You may find that over time you adjust to the perfect work-life balance that best suits your situation.
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