Help Achieving Work-Life Balance at Home

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The Problem

Ah mornings! You bring your cup of coffee to your computer and settle in to check E-mail. You sit down. Five minutes pass. Then another five minutes. Soon you’re typing away at a freelance project, an important proposal for a new client, or an IM. It’s lunchtime before you know it. Eventually, the sun has set, your family is gathering around the TV - and you’re still at your computer, typing away.

There will be some times when it is difficult to get away from your computer - heavy deadlines, procrastination, and necessity may chain you there. But if you are at your computer sun up to beyond sun down every day, eventually you will burn out. Below are some tips - both for managing your time and achieving that all important work-life balance so that you can get away from your computer and enjoy life - most every day.

Managing your Time

When you work at home, it is essential you do not drop the ball on time management. If you do, you are more likely to wind up chained to your computer than your commuting colleagues. Here is a list of steps to freeing yourself from your computer:

1. Ask yourself, Monday morning, “What has to be done this week?”

2. Ask yourself, Monday morning, “What would be nice to get done this week?”

3. Ask yourself, Monday morning, “What could I go without doing this week? Can someone else do it? Can it be done later? Does it really need to be done?”

4. Schedule all answers that have a strict deadline.

5. Schedule uninterrupted work time around deadlines, errands, family obligations and other must-do’s.

6. Be realistic about what you can get done in one day. If your “to-do” list is more than five items long for one day, you may need to revisit questions 1-3.

Acheiving Balance

Besides managing time, it is important to instill a good work-life balance no matter what your schedule looks like. Because our place of work is the same place as our place of dwelling, it is only too easy to overwork or underwork. In order to maintain a good work-life balance it is important to keep work and not work completely separate. One way to do this is to have “Uninterrupted work times” where you will be working without interruption just as you would at an office. Another way to balance work and life is to mark appointments, to-do’s and scheduling points with different colors. Work could be red, family green, friends brown, health yellow, etc. At a glance, you will be able to see whether your schedule is too heavy on work, or family or friends. One caveat - track your time for a week. Color code the schedule you record. Adjust accordingly.

For more tips on how to balance work and life, you may wish to read Meryl Evans’ “Balance Home Office Work and Personal Lives.” By making some adjustments, leaning towards balance, and prioritizing tasks, you too can escape your computer’s chains!