Practical tips for maintaining work-life balance while working from home
When I tell people that I work remotely, my response is usually met with envy. And, that reaction is totally valid! Working from home, your favorite cafe, or from a coworking space is great for many reasons, but more specifically, it provides workers with a sense of trust, respect, and ultimate flexibility. All this being said, there are still struggles within the remote work community. Issues with work-life balance, inactivity, loneliness, and the ironic feeling of being disconnected all the while being online and available.
As more companies are moving to the remote-first model, and employees are finding their way in this (somewhat) new frontier, now is a great time to consider novel ways to incorporate balance while working away from the traditional office. We here at Astropad have been in the remote-work game for several years now, and with a growing team, we turned inward for self-care tips worthy of sharing.
Define Work-Life Boundaries
When you regularly work from home, the line between work and your personal life often blurs. Many of us on our teamwork from home and make an effort to create boundaries separating our home from our office.
Jake, our Firmware Engineer, sets up different logins for work vs personal use. This boundary between accounts helps him stay focused throughout the workday. It may sound like a hassle having multiple logins, but having your work station configured this way reduces the temptation to bounce back and forth.
Matt, our CEO & Co-founder, and Savannah, our Director of Marketing, make sure to get dressed for the office even when working from home. The simple act of wearing shoes helps Savannah get in work-mode. She also uses lighting to set the ambiance. Her workspace happens to be in her living room, so later on in the day when work is winding down, Savannah switches the lighting to feel more at home and less at the office.
Corwin, one of our Software Engineers, adheres to a regular workday schedule as not to slip into the bad habit of always being online. He also coordinates with friends each week to meet up after work to combat the isolation of working remotely.
Overall, the takeaway here is to acknowledge the fact that working from home isn’t as easy as it looks and you may need to set yourself up for success by separating what’s work from what’s personal. Being remote doesn’t mean working 24/7, so be careful not to let that happen.
Prioritize Healthy Habits
Usually, when you work in an office, you have a kitchen where you take coffee breaks and store your lunch. Or, you may work somewhere surrounded by restaurants and places to grab lunch. Depending on where you live, your home might not have as many options nearby. But, chances are, you do have a kitchen! Don’t let the daily grind get in the way of taking breaks, eating meals, or enjoying a cup of tea.
Rachel, our Technical Support Manager, invested in an automatic coffee maker so her morning cup of joe is brewed and ready when she gets up. As a non-morning person, this small change has helped her wake up and start her day off more seamlessly.
Our Administrative Assistant, Melisa, has been prioritizing eating as a mindful act. That is, rather than eating slumped over her laptop, she changes up her location to enjoy both the meal and the time away.
And as for myself, I make a point of cooking lunch every day. Nothing too fancy, but even the act of heating up leftovers on the stove gets me moving and away from my computer for a bit.
It may sound silly but take care of yourself! Eat your meals, brew some coffee, and take a break. Time flies when you’re working from home, so build in those me-time moments and make use of that full kitchen!
Step (or Run) Away from the Screen
Anyone who works remotely knows the feeling of being glued to their computer. Without a formal or consistent commute in your daily routine, incorporating exercise can feel like a huge chore. Theron, our Hardware Engineer, regularly prioritizes working out and changes it up based on the season. In summer, he’s all about mountain biking after work. In the winter months, he breaks out his snowshoes.
Tiffany, our Marketing Brand Coordinator, and Rachel both take an afternoon run. Corwin, also an avid runner, adheres to a strict running schedule – even when he’d much rather take a day off.
Giovanni, our Head of Product and Co-Founder, begins each day with meditation, works from his coworking space in the morning, and then carves out 2 hours at lunchtime to eat and take a nap at home. This routine is all about recharging and restoring his mental health, which, in turn, greatly increases his productivity.
In our screen-obsessed culture, it is an act of courage to close the laptop, put away your phone, or pause your streaming service(s). Moving is vital to our health, and yet, it can be an uphill battle incorporating bits of activity during the workweek. Get up, move around, and maybe even leave your home office. It’s that easy to start and you’ll be so glad you did.
Designate Focus Blocks
Carving out personal- and focus-blocks of time during the week have been a game-changer for many on our team. With Slack notifications constantly pinging and emails rolling in, many remote workers feel like they aren’t able to get away from each and every status update.
As for me, much of my job consists of writing for social media, so I set aside 2 hours every Thursday afternoon for drafting captions and scheduling social posts. That day happens to be the one day each week that I don’t have any meetings, and allocating that time has increased my ability to stay committed to the task.
Matt disabled certain Slack notifications since the constant updates proved to be more distracting than helpful. Now he checks in on happenings at designated times to stay in-the-know. Tiffany is often working on creative assets for various campaigns and has found that designing offline keeps her focus on cultivating creativity rather than switching gears every time she gets an update.
If you’re like me, you may feel validated by being available all day long while working remotely. However, it’s usually not expected that you’re available every minute of the 8 hour day. You’re entitled to focused work and should feel empowered to start breaking away from that dated expectation. Be transparent with your team and advocate for what you need to be successful. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a positive trend with your coworkers!
The remote work journey is constantly evolving and what may work for one person, may not work for you. Experimentation, much like what drives the tech industry, is ultimately the answer to finding your flow. Do you have something that’s worked for you? Let us know on social and we’ll share your tips!
Illustrations by Rachal Duggan using Astropad Studio