Five ways to manage your work-life balance when you work from home
A lot of us fantasize about quitting the office life and starting a new business working from home. After all, who wouldn’t love to be their own boss, set their own hours and work from the comfort of their own sofa?
That’s why the UK is entering a proverbial renaissance for remote working and home-run businesses. According to researchers at Great Business, around 59% of all UK businesses are run from home accounting for almost three million businesses in total.
Those home-run businesses aren’t messing around, either. One survey conducted by Powwownow found that 53% of people feel they would be more productive if they could work outside the office. The numbers speak for themselves.
Collectively, it’s been estimated that home-run businesses contribute 243 billion to the UK economy accounting for around 1 of every 11 made.
Yet while entrepreneurs love working from home, running a business from home can also come hand-in-hand with its own unique set of issues. Above all else, a lot of business owners find it incredibly difficult balancing their work and home life when they’re operating a business from home.
Does that sound like a problem you’ve been facing? If so, don’t worry we’re here to help. That’s why we’ve compiled a handy guide with five key tips to help you strike the perfect work-life balance while working from home.
So, how can you manage your work-life balance?
1. Never stop planning ahead
One of the biggest problems home-run business owners tend to run into is a lack of strategic focus. If you aren’t adequately focusing on your goals, it can be easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what your business is trying to achieve. That’s why you’ve got to do some serious planning to stay on-task at home.
All business planning you conduct for your home-run business needs to start off with a basic process for goal setting. You should have already established some long-term goals for your business when writing your business plan and you’ve got to be constantly reminded of those goals. According to one study by TD Bank, most small business owners report benefitting hugely from using goal visualisation to stay focused at home. So, it’s worth creating idea boards or pictures to display in your home office to keep you on the ball while working from home.
That being said, planning ahead on a more cellular scale is equally important
There are a lot of distractions at home. Pets, kids, chores, your significant other, the television the list goes on and on. And unless you’ve got a plan for your week and your day, it is often easy to succumb to those distractions. That’s why it’s important to start your day with a broad plan of what you’re hoping to achieve.
Consider what you absolutely must do by the end of the day, and then pair it with what you’d like to achieve if you can. Do you want to land a certain number of sales? Do you want to finish half of a client report, or plan out a months worth of digital marketing campaigns?
From there, let your goal setting spill over into tomorrow, the end of the week, next week and the following month. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to stay on-task while working from home and by staying on-task while you’re working, you’ll subsequently be able to make the most of the time in which you should not be working.
2. Create established boundaries
When it comes to staying productive at home, you are inevitably going to be your own worst enemy. Managing time at home can be incredibly important to run an efficient business, and unfortunately, it doesn’t all come down to adequate planning.
Because you’re working from home, friends and loved ones will often assume they can count on you to be available at the drop of a hat. Why?
Although working from home is now fairly common in the UK, home-working professionals often face misconceptions that they’re often twiddling their thumbs in the kitchen rather than working. As a result, people who are close to you could harbour unrealistic expectations regarding your work schedule and your daily goals. If you want to strike a functional work-life balance, you need to set the record straight early on.
How? Beyond a very clear-cut conversation with your friends or loved ones, a lot of professionals working from home establish positive boundaries through unconscious cues. For example, putting on corporate casual attire while working from home will often tell others you’re in work mode, and that your time should be treated as such.
Another way to create boundaries between your work time and downtime is to set office hours. You don’t necessarily need to hole yourself up in a home office from 9 am until 5 pm, but it is incredibly important to try and block off regular chunks of time that you can devote to work. This is time when your other responsibilities must take a backseat to your work responsibilities, and you should clearly communicate those hours and do your best to adhere to them.
One of the easiest ways to establish a boundary between your work life and home life is simple: close your office door. This is a clear and physical way to communicate to others living in your home that you are working. You could even go the extra mile by hanging a sign on your office door informing others that you’re trying to focus. It doesn’t need to be mean or passive-aggressive, but it will help others to understand your schedule and the time you must devote to your job.
3. Look after yourself
A huge problem some home-working business owners often run into is neglecting their own wellbeing. While many remote workers struggle remaining on-task and getting the job done from the comfort of their own home, other workers have the opposite problem: they get so engrossed in work, they start to neglect aspects of their home life.
No matter how ambitious your business goals may be, you can never afford to neglect your own physical or mental health or the health of those living around you. According to researchers at the University of California, around 72% of entrepreneurs struggle with mental health issues which are often brought on by self-imposed overwork and stress.
It’s not hard to see why. As a business owner, you may often place unrealistic demands or ambitious goals upon your shoulders. When you are struggling to meet those demands or goals, you end up placing yourself under a huge amount of strain. But you’ve got to remember that you are your own boss, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
Several times a day, you need to get away from your computer screen and take a break. Expose yourself to some fresh air and a bit of green space on a regular basis if you need to, you can even add these breaks into your diary to ensure you stick to them. Take some time out of your day to chat with others, or even take your work to a coffee shop or a public place for the day so that you’re mingling with other people.
Beyond that, you’ve also got to watch what you’re eating. When working from home, it can be difficult to monitor your own nutrition and make sure you’re eating healthy items that will keep your body finely tuned and, in a position, to keep working.
Try and block off a part of your day to get out and exercise, plan a home-cooked lunch break with a friend or loved one and keep the shades up so that you can get a little bit of Vitamin D.
If you stop looking after yourself, your work-life balance will be completely out of sync. If you want your home-based business to succeed, you need to do everything within your power to try and stay healthy.
4. Book a holiday
It might feel somewhat counterintuitive, but sometimes the most important way to strike a great home-work balance when working from home is to get away from both home and work. Leave it all behind and enjoy some rest and relaxation on holiday.
According to research conducted by business software provider Sage, more than one-third of small business owners in the UK don’t take a summer holiday. A similar survey published in the Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report found that 52% of small business owners reported taking just five days off or less in 2017. Just over a fifth of small business owners said they didn’t take a single day off work.
As previously stated, that zealous commitment to work can ultimately wreak havoc on your physical and mental health not to mention your personal relationships with friends or loved ones. Don’t put yourself in that position. Get online and book a holiday.
As a home-working individual, you’re free to pick when and for how long you choose to get away. If you’d like, you can even take your work with you on an extended working holiday. Take your laptop, block off an hour or two a day to work and then spend the rest of your time relaxing.
By getting away from home and (for the most part) your work, you’ll be able to refresh your state-of-mind and return home with a fresh sense of work purpose and a motivation to get things done from home.
5. Start your day with intent
Believe it or not, the first few hours of your day are usually the most crucial. The way you start your working day will go on to frame and define your attitude and what you’re able to accomplish for the entire day and so you need to start off your day strong.
How? First and foremost, you should try and establish some sort of morning routine.
What you choose to include in your morning routine to make the most of your first few hours of the day will depend largely upon the sort of person you are and what you think you need to do to succeed.
That being said, a great way to start your morning routine is with a little bit of exercise. According to researchers at the University of Bristol, doing routine morning exercises can increase your concentration while working by 21%. Morning exercises can also increase your work motivation by 41%.
Similarly, you should always strive to have a healthy, balanced breakfast that will place your mind and body in an optimal working condition. If you’re on the hunt for top tips, entrepreneur Tim Ferris reckons that most successful entrepreneurs eat the same thing every day.
After breakfast and a quick workout, step into the office with a defined start to your work time. Write a to-do list, check your emails, record ideas you’d like to try in the days and weeks to come whatever helps you get into the zone.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, the only person who can help you strike the perfect work-life balance is you. Working from home can be difficult in terms of distractions, stepping away from a computer monitor or maintaining positive relationships with your friends or loved ones. But you need to find an adequate balance between your work responsibilities and your home responsibilities, if you want your home-run business to succeed.
Finding that balance is going to be a game of trial and error. After all, what works for one person might not necessarily work for you and you should always strive to play to your own strengths in shaping your work life.
That being said, there are a few basic rules that apply to all home-working individuals. Plan ahead, create positive boundaries and look after yourself. You also need to step away from both home and work to enjoy the occasional holiday, and you may want to bring together some sort of morning routine to make the most of your day.
If you can do all of that, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to come up with a decent work-life balance, to let you succeed in running your business from home.
This blog was brought to you by Ewan Sutherland of Blue Square Offices - Scotland's Nr 1 Virtual Office Provider.