Working From Home Part 3: Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Posted on May 8, 2018

Work-Life Balance. Separating the personal from the professional. It’s always a balancing act, budgeting time for family, friends and self while ensuring that you’re taking care of business. It’s not a new problem, although as technology has advanced making us accessible anywhere at any time, it seems demarcation lines are blurred.

For previous generations, leaving the office meant leaving work behind. While that’s slowly been changing since Mr. Bell’s phones cropped up in every home, the fax machine, internet and cell phone have managed to virtually eradicate anything close to “downtime”. Sure, you could ignore that text, call or email but it’s a competitive world and it’s hard not to be sucked right back into work mode-even at 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday.

It’s hard enough to turn off our work self when a commute to a different locale provides at least a small cushion, but for those working from home there’s really no physical division.

Based on the tone of the two previous blogs on the topic of working from home, you might surmise that this will be a cautionary commentary on allowing your personal life to encroach upon your business duties. Actually, statistically speaking, the exact opposite seems to be the problem.

For a variety of reasons, those who have successfully operated from a home office for more than a year are far more likely to lose the balancing act to work rather than their personal life. It happens (as most insidious habits do) gradually. It might be that despite your “rule” to close down your home office at 5:00 p.m., you agree to take a conference call at 6:00, “just this once”. Weekends, that you determined in the beginning would be off limits and preserved for family and friends, are encroached upon an hour at a time.

It’s not long before your family comes to expect an empty chair at the dinner table while you “grab a bite at the desk”.

Of course, you want to be responsible, and especially during the building phase of your business you’ll need to devote a lot of time and energy. However, if you allow your business life take over it won’t be long before you’ll lose friends, alienate family and probably, start hating your work.

The best way to avoid this happening is to set up a reasonable work schedule right from the start. Inform clients your days of operation and times that you are open and closed.  Most importantly stick to these! Resist the temptation to answer phone calls, texts or emails “after hours”. This will be particularly hard when you’re first getting started, no one wants to risk losing new business. But every time you make an exception, you take one step closer to turning over your life.

Working from home has so many advantages. Use these in a smart way. For instance, rather than missing family meals or a date with friends, put in a couple extra hours early in the morning or later at night. Remember, you are in control don’t let working from home control you!