As a new graduate who completed half of her post-secondary education online, did two fully remote internships, and has received both in-person and WFH positions, here are four things I’ve started incorporating into my work-from-home (WFH) routine to help create better work-life boundaries and succeed in my positions.
- Wake Up Early—Or At Least Try To
It can be super tempting to roll out of bed 5 minutes before your work or school day starts and just jump into it. It’s easy, takes little to no effort, and sounds like a great idea if you’re not a morning person. But doing that blurs the boundary between work and general life. If the first thing you do in the morning is start working, what is there to stop that from being the last thing you do before you fall asleep at night?
Waking up early also gives you time in the morning to go through a morning routine, whatever that may be. Whether it’s lounging around in bed for half an hour scrolling through social media, going through a morning skincare routine, or whatever else you choose to do.
I was not and still am not a morning person. But giving myself the extra hour between waking up and starting work has been so helpful in giving me time to decompress and actually wake up. I don’t feel as groggy and grumpy when I start working and I don’t feel like my brain is constantly stuck on a “loading” page.
- Get Dressed Before Work
How tempting is it to work in loungewear? Office appropriate clothing can feel so restricting and uncomfortable, especially when comparing it to the loungewear worn around the house. When wearing the clothes you wear to sleep to work, it blurs the lines between work and home.
By making the effort to get dressed in the morning, even if it’s just changing into an office appropriate top, it can help you differentiate the two areas of your life and make a cleaner transition into working. It also sets good practices into place if you either plan to WFH from a local café or get a job that’s in-person.
As someone who has a WFH job and an office position, getting dressed for both jobs has been a big part in starting off my day right. It helps me get myself in the headspace for work and shift away from the “lounge at home and do nothing all day” mindset.
- Make An Effort to Eat Breakfast Before, Not During
Breakfast may not actually be the most important meal of the day, but being able to separate your eating time from your WFH day is important. Whether it’s making and eating a full, balanced breakfast or just having a coffee or tea in the morning, do it before you start work.
Decompress in the mornings with your breakfast and beverage of choice. Take the time to eat and/or drink without working. Relax, take a breath, and when you’re done, start working.
I’ve found that taking the time to eat and drink before working generally has me starting off my day in a better mood. I don’t feel as rushed and anxious about time and I can generally enjoy my hot breakfast and hotter coffee.
- Separate Your Workspace From Your General Living Space
It’s definitely easier said than done, I mean how often are we using our laptops and phones in bed? It’s so comfy and warm, especially when the weather is colder and all you want to do is stay in bed all day. Creating a workspace separate from your bedroom, or at least separate from your bed, is helpful in establishing and enforcing a healthy work-life balance.
Keeping work and general living separate is hard to do when working and even harder to do when working from home. Whether you choose to do your work in the kitchen, dining room, or you have a desk in your room, make sure to keep it consistent and to have that be a dedicated space for you to work. Lines are blurred and if you’re not able to separate those areas of your life, you may start to feel guilty for stepping away from work at any point during the day.
Before I separated my workspace from my living space, I had horrible work-life balance. I had a desk in my room, but it was too close to my bed and I would just end up moving my laptop and other devices into bed to do work “because it’s cold”. After moving my work area to the kitchen, it’s helped me to stay focused and minimize those kinds of distractions during the work day.
These things, though they are simple, are habits that I am still trying to practice in working from home. I’m not perfect at it, nor do I claim to be an expert in working from home. These are just things that have been working for me lately as I navigate a WFH and an in-person job.
These are just my personal tips and though they may not all work for everyone, I hope this has been helpful in either affirming what you’ve been doing or introducing new tips for creating better balance in your life while WFH!