With self-isolation measures due to COVID-19 in place, more people than ever before found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly working from home.
When you are living and working in the same space, without any clear boundaries and distinctions between the two, it can be tricky to find a comfortable balance. You may find that you are working much longer hours than you would in the office and responding to emails at all hours of the day.
However, as organizational psychologist Matthew Buckley explains, doing this ‘actually diminishes productivity because we’re not giving ourselves enough time to properly unwind and refresh after work.’
Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that you find a way of separating out work time from family time. Here we will provide a few tips for doing this.
Set office hours – and stick to them
Studies show that an inability to switch off is probably the most common problem faced by those working from home. With no specific start and finish times, and no change of location to underline them, you can find yourself still pounding away at the computer long past five.
Decide when you will start and stop work each day and take care to notify your colleagues of these so that you are less likely to be receiving messages and emails outside these hours.
Make plans to spend time with your family – and keep them
Even if you set out your times and decide to be strict with yourself, the lure of work can be intense. You may find yourself working an extra half-hour here and there, and suddenly, before you know it, you’ve fallen back into bad habits.
Scheduling activities with other people can be a good way to prevent this from happening. Even though you may not be able to venture far from the house right now, a game or movie night with your partner and children will ensure you have a reason to finish work on time.
Allow time for breaks – and don’t forget to take them
While at work, you may be used to taking coffee breaks or heading out for lunch with your work friends, obviously this isn’t something you are going to be doing when working from home.
However, having time away from your desk during the day is vital for giving you time to rest, relax, and recharge. Take short breaks to stretch your legs, have a quick snack, or even do a couple of personal chores to take your mind briefly away from your work.
Be organized – and write a to-do list
If you know what you need to do, it will be far easier to plan out your day and even your week ahead. Research indicates that people perform better when they have a written list of tasks, so this is a great way to ensure you get everything done.
Do make sure though that when you are planning out projects, you are realistic in designating the time needed to complete them. This ensures that you are never working outside your allotted hours.
Have clear boundaries – and communicate them
When trying to work in a space you share with your partner and children, you may find yourself dealing with numerous interruptions throughout the day. The impact of this is that it will be harder for you to concentrate on the tasks at hand, and you will likely end up working longer hours.
Once you have a plan for the week, work with your partner to set up a suitable schedule for you both to follow. Be clear on the days and times you will be working and, if possible, set up a designated workspace, so your family is aware that when you are in that place, you are not to be disturbed.
- Buckley, M. (2017, November 09). Work-Life Balance: Why It’s Important and How to Achieve It. Retrieved from https://www.psychreg.org/work-life-balance/
- Felstead, A., & Henseke, G. (2017). Assessing the growth of remote working and its consequences for effort, well-being, and work-life balance. New Technology, Work and Employment, 32(3), 195-212.
- Schrager, S. & Sadowski, E. (2016) Getting More Done: Strategies to Increase Scholarly Productivity. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 8(1) 10-13.