Achieving work-life balance when working from home is becoming a challenge for many newly remote employees. It is taking a toll on their mental and physical health; even their productivity.
This can manifest as stress or burnout which affects over two-thirds of employees in the US with 23% often or always feeling burned out, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.
Furthermore, other reports indicate that 40% of job turnover in the US is due to job stress which costs American companies a whopping $300 billion a year in health costs, absenteeism, and poor performance.
Unlike established freelancers who’ve mastered work-life balance when working from home, some employees are being “forced” to work from home for the first time due to COVID-19, and frankly, it’s just not working!
Truth is, they were unprepared for remote work as are many who’re now keen on trying some work from home online jobs in the face of looming second wave of lockdowns.
In this post, I’ll be sharing proven tips on how to achieve work-life balance when working from home. These tips work and are working for many other remote workers.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance or life-work balance refers to the delicate and deliberate balancing act of separating work from other normal life activities. One of its golden rules has always been to never take work home.
However, not only has COVID-19 broken this rule and brought work home, it has made home the new office for many. Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Dentons, name it- are now allowing staff work from home, some indefinitely.
What are the implications of this for work-life balance?
Importance of Work-Life Balance When Working From Home
Work and life are becoming increasingly more blended, thanks to COVID-19. Here Oberlo lists some interesting online jobs which are available 24/7 and can be done from any location with internet access, including your home.
However, this raises concerns over work-life balance when working from home, especially for working mothers. With schools shut and everyone shut- in including parents, in-laws, husbands, children, and pets, now is a tough time to be a working mother.
The same can be said of men trying to balance work and being providers, husbands, and fathers at the same time, space, and location.
Stewart Freidman in his book Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life describes four domains of people’s lives to include
These must be in sync to achieve work-life balance when working from home. Imbalance in any of these can affect every other area of people’s lives.
Here are some consequences of work-life imbalance when working from home
Work-life imbalance when working from home can affect you, your job, and your relationships. For instance, overwork can be an indication of work-life imbalance, especially if such is at the expense of other areas of life.
According to burnout scholar Christina Maslach, a workaholic will die before an alcoholic.
Other consequences of work-life imbalance when working from home include:
- Heart attack/Death
- Shoddy work
- Missed deadlines
- Job loss
- Neglect of family/loved ones
- Strained relationships
- Neglect of hobbies
- Lack of recreation
- Loss of valuable friendships
Following are 5 steps to achieving work-life balance when working from home
1. Understand What Makes a Balanced Life
It is important to first understand what constitutes work-life balance when working from home to be able to achieve it. Balanced work-life results from equilibrium in your
- Professional life,
- Personal life, and
- Interpersonal life
A typical workaholic is often perceived to be working long hours, even to the detriment of their personal and interpersonal lives. However, studies do not show a direct correlation between workaholism and productivity.
People who’re more focused on their personal lives may neglect their professional and interpersonal lives, resulting in job loss, high job turnover, or poor interpersonal relationships at work, at home or in the community/neighborhood. Properly understanding these three (professional, personal, and interpersonal life) is the key to achieving balance.
2. Analyze the Way You Spend Your Time
Time is money. Lifespan is also a function of time. To achieve work-life balance when working from home, you should record and analyze how much time you spend on each of your professional, personal, and interpersonal life activities.
How much time do you spend at your desk when working from home, and how much do you get done? Take note of your resumption and closing hours plus productivity levels. Do the same for your personal and interpersonal lives. Do this for one week. Then record your findings in a journal or create a spreadsheet.
This would give you a detailed idea of how your typical day is spent when working from home. It would help you better allocate your time and plan your day more effectively going forward.
This would eliminate guesswork and help you gather actionable data on how your typical workday is spent. It will help you optimize your professional, personal, and interpersonal life to ensure balance.
3. Allocate Time for Daily Activities
Based on the data collected in #2 above, you can now identify interesting patterns like which of your professional, personal, or interpersonal life activities is taking most of your time to the detriment of others.
For instance, you may notice that you’re now spending 12 hours working from home as opposed to your 9 to 5 job. If this continues for a long time it may affect other areas of your life and create work-life imbalance. Your employer may be happy with you, but your spouse may be paying the price.
Similarly, spending all of your working hours with your family may make them happy, but may affect your job performance, leading to job loss which will have an even bigger impact on your ability to provide for the ones you love.
A more balanced approach, for instance, would be to allocate eight (8) hours a day to your professional, personal, and interpersonal lives to achieve work-life balance when working from home. This could translate to eight hours for work (9 to 5), eight hours for sleep, and eight hours for exercise, bonding, community activities, hobbies, house chores, etc.
4. Outsource Some of Your Work
If you run your own business or own an online business like a dropshipping store, you should outsource some of your non-core work. This will not only free up more time for you, but it will also increase your efficiency and productivity.
Remote work often involves multiple tasks, multiple tabs, juggling different software and applications. Sometimes, this can amount to a lot and require more time than a 9 to 5 job. If this is your daily experience, you may need to outsource some work.
By outsourcing some of your work, you will prevent stress and burnout, which are two productivity killers, while increasing efficiency. You will also have more time for other important things in your life like family, recreation, faith, or community service.
There are several popular platforms where you can hire online gig workers to help with your work for a fee. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork feature thousands of freelancers offering their services for hire.
5. Delegate Tasks
Perhaps you’re a working mother and cannot safely outsource some of your office work for any of many reasons like confidentiality, you can delegate most of your non-office related work.
For instance, you can have your children or teenagers help with some of the house chores. This would help them keep busy so you can also keep busy with important work. Your spouse can also help out where possible.
What if your children are toddlers and unable to help with housework yet? In that case, you can enlist the help of other family members like siblings, or better yet, hire a nanny.
Since you’re working from home, you can more easily monitor and supervise their work while you also focus on being productive. This can help you free up more time and achieve more in a day, plus inch you closer to work-life balance when working from home.
Achieving work-life balance when working from home is a work in progress, keep at it, one step at a time.
- Understand what makes a balanced life
- Analyze the way you spend your time
- Allocate time for daily activities
- Outsource some work
- Delegate tasks
Implementing these will help you experience more work-life balance when working from home.