Posted by Paladin on December 27, 2018
Those who’ve had the opportunity to work from home know it comes with a unique set of challenges. There are obvious benefits, from the non-existent commute to the freedom and flexibility associated with working in your own private space. But remote workers are also often expected to be eternally available. That pressure makes it tough to separate the work day from necessary family time and “me time.”
Studies show that 70 percent of global professionals already telecommute at least once a week, and 53 percent do so for at least half of the workweek. But like regular employees, those who work from home — including freelancers, contractors and temporary employees — need work-life balance to ensure they’re productive and avoid burning out.
With that in mind, here are a few surefire ways to manage your remote work life without sacrificing your personal one.
Keep an Eye on Your Hours
When you need to get a jump on an assignment or have a tight deadline, it’s tempting to work late into the night or wake before sunrise to take a seat at your desk. The problem with this approach is that you’ll likely end up putting in a full day of work during normal business hours as well.
If you feel the need to tweak your schedule, or discover that you’re most productive outside of traditional work hours, just make sure you’re still leaving enough time for yourself. Your coworkers will assume you’re available during the day regardless of how late you worked last night. Make a point of blocking your schedule for an hour or two to restore your energy, and force yourself to take a step back from the task at hand.
Balancing your work hours with the time you need to unwind and rest your brain will help you avoid unhealthy stress. But be sure to always watch for symptoms of burnout like chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, weight gain and anxiety. If you’re planning a vacation, do so well in advance so you can wrap up your current projects and let your teammates know you’ll be away. This will decrease the chances that you’ll be interrupted while you’re off the clock and allow you to enjoy the respite you need.
Get Some Exercise
It isn’t uncommon for remote employees to sit in front of a computer for eight or more hours a day. When you don’t have any distractions, and there are no colleagues around encouraging you to join them for lunch, it’s all too easy to get caught up in your work.
But as Harvard Medical School reports, “Sitting is the new smoking in terms of health risks.” The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 67 percent of older adults sit for more than eight hours each day. The health risks of this lifestyle could include blood clots and obesity.
The solution? Take breaks. Every couple of hours get up, stretch, and do a few push ups and sit ups. Head out of the house for a brisk walk once or twice over the course of the day. Make the time to move your body, just as you make time for work. You may even find it helps to clear your mind.
Use Technology to Create Some Distance From the Office
For the remote worker, technology is a must. But aside from helping you communicate with your office, it can also help you disconnect when you need some downtime.
How? If you’re using chat software like Slack, take full advantage of its status and availability features to let team members know whether you’re active, away or in “Do Not Disturb” mode. Google Hangouts allows you to mute notifications and customize your status to show you’re at lunch, on vacation or offline for the night. Regardless of the tools you use, managing your availability is a key component of a productive yet healthy routine.
Whether you’re already telecommuting or about to make the switch, it’s important to address this lifestyle’s pros and cons and prepare for what lies ahead. A good work-life balance is vital to your happiness and health, and will keep you productive and successful for years to come.