We all hear a lot about work-life balance, but what does that really mean? To us, it is about daily achievement and enjoyment. It’s about focusing on your achievements and reaching your professional goals, but then having the time to enjoy your life outside of work.
There are many reasons it’s important to find that balance, probably the most important one being the benefits to your overall health – physical, mental, and spiritual. When work begins to take over your life, it can lead to higher levels of stress, which instead of improving your job performance can lead to hampered productivity and even burn out. As managers, we don’t ever want that to happen to our staff. And as managers of remote teams, we understand that work-life balance can be tricky when your office is in your home.
When your personal and work spaces are in the same place, it can be hard to draw a line. But with persistence, and small changes made over time, you can ultimately achieve work-life balance while reaping the benefits of working from home (like no dress code and no commute).
- Set boundaries. When you work from home, it’s critical to establish lines between your work and personal lives.
- Talk to your manager to establish working hours and expectations for when you need to be available for work. Communicate that to your family and friends to let them know when you are at work vs. when you are “off the clock.”
- Have a designated work area, preferably away from common areas and definitely not in your bedroom (that should be a place of respite and relaxation).
- When you are with your loved ones, give them your undivided attention. “Unplug” if you can by limiting your use of technology.
- Nurture friendships. We all need our ‘tribe’ that shares common interests and takes us away from both work life and family life stresses.
- Leave work at work. Turn off your work devices at the end of your work day and when you are with family and friends, do your best not to talk about work (unless you have some great news, like a big promotion!).
- Structure your time. A routine is critical to ensuring you maximize your productivity. Here are some tips for adding some structure to your day:
- Track your time. Tracking how you spend your time allows you to better plan your days and ensure that your work time doesn’t begin to creep into your personal time at the end of every day.
- Not everything is a priority – even though it might feel that way on most days. Look at your projects and tasks and define them according to urgency and importance (urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, neither urgent nor important). Prioritizing allows you to create a plan for the day or perhaps even the week.
- Stop multi-tasking! Too much multi-tasking can result in mistakes. Concentrate on one thing at a time, give it the attention it deserves, then finish it before moving on.
- Learn to say no. If you don’t respect your own boundaries, others won’t either, so know your limitations and don’t be afraid to say no if saying yes will cause you to shift your priorities.
- Be realistic. It is so easy for those of us in the coding and registry profession to be perfectionists. After all, the quality of our work is critical to our personal success as well as the success of the healthcare facilities we support. While we would love to achieve 100% quality all day every day, pushing for perfection can take a toll on our wellbeing – and in many cases, it’s just not realistic.
It’s great to have high expectations, but make sure they are realistic. Don’t over reach, especially when it’s not necessary. We are often harder on ourselves than others are and, many times, we are harder on ourselves than we could ever be on other people. So instead of sneaking into your office when everyone else is asleep to “get ahead” on some work, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back for the great work you have already done, and go back to bed.
- Take breaks. Working remotely can be great for your productivity. Without the distractions that come with office, you may find you can get more done. But sometimes you need that co-worker to come by and chat for a few minutes to give yourself a break and clear your head. When working from home, be sure you take breaks.
- Work in your exercise clothes and get in a walk or even a full workout on your lunch hour.
- Take advantage of the quiet and meditate.
- Call a friend and catch up for a few minutes, or better yet, to make plans to get together after work or on the weekend.
- And don’t forget to take the best kind of break – a vacation. Whether it’s high adventure or relaxing on the beach, take a vacation to recharge.
Need more tips? What about finding easier ways to take care of mundane tasks (like online grocery shopping and house cleaning services)? Perhaps engaging a life coach will help you identify strategies to achieve your goals. Ask around and you’ll surely discover many tools that can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed so that you can relish in your achievements and enjoy every aspect of your life.
Achieving balance isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Start small – schedule one thing you look forward to each day. Maybe it’s a hot bath or a glass of wine at the end of the day, or watching a favorite show with your family. Do that every day and we promise, you will start to feel a little more balanced. Then try some of our other tips and let us know what works best for you. Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.