Working from home can be a great gift: you can work in your PJs (or your underpants, whatever floats your boat) your commute is a dream and you can have an afternoon cranky nap. Amazing.
However, it’s really easy to fall into a pattern of working weird hours – and then working all hours. Your friends could be mainly comprised of industry friends. Your work laptop and work phone are the same as your private tech. It can be really hard, then, to switch off when the boundaries between your work and private life become blurred. So how do you work from home and keep your personal life sacred?
Get two sets of tech
If you can afford it, do it. Get a work phone and a personal phone, same with your computer. For example, I try to use my desktop for work and my laptop for my own stuff. I know this isn’t realistic for everyone, but it’s worth the investment. Once your work computer is off, it stays off, just like you’re leaving an office – the same goes for your work phone. If you’re in an industry where it’s unlikely that there will be an emergency, become difficult to contact out of hours.
Set clear boundaries
With yourself and with others. Give yourself working hours and stop after that. OK, so sometimes you might end up working until the small hours. When that happens, don’t tell anyone. Don’t put it on social media, don’t give people the message that you work 24/7, or they will think you’re fair game 24/7. Don’t accept business messages via Facebook, ask people to email you instead, and always arrange to talk to people within normal business hours, no matter how excited you are (this is something I’m really bad at). Respond to any emails or texts after 9am on weekdays, even if they were sent earlier.
Carry a notebook
Sometimes, I get ideas at weird hours. That doesn’t mean I need to get up and start working on them right away. I jot them down and go back to sleep, knowing my ideas are safe.
Get out once a day
I love my house. If it were up to me, I’d never leave – home is the safest, cosiest place after all. However, it’s good for my health and my frame of mind to leave the house at least once every day, just to get a glimpse of the outside world and some fresh air.
Try to keep your office space separate
Even if it’s just one small corner of one room set up as a desk, try to keep your office space separate to your living space. That way you won’t find yourself still working from sofa in the early hours.
It’s not always the case that long hours pay off
Hard work pays off, but forcing yourself to sit at a desk day and night in order to “put in the hours” does not. When it comes to your hours, learn your patterns and work when you’re most productive. Don’t work when you think you SHOULD be working, don’t work into the night if you’re a morning person and do what’s best for you – that’s the whole point of being self employed, isn’t it?
Do you work from home? Do you find it difficult to find a work-life balance? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box!