Work-life balance when working from home can be hard to put into practice. One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the flexibility you have, but that flexibility can easily translate into working longer hours rather than dedicating time to other hobbies, friends and family, or self-care.
What Does Work-Life Balance Mean for Independent Contractors?
Work-life balance refers to that ideal middle ground between your work life and your personal life—you are succeeding in running your own business, but still have time to dedicate to other things in your life that are important. The big difference between work-life balance for a typical employee and work-life balance for an independent contractor is that as an independent you are in full control of where, when, and how you work. Employees don’t always have that luxury.
Why is Work-Life Balance Important?
Work-life balance can be hard to find as an independent professional because you are reliant on yourself for the success of your business. If you turn down more work or dedicate one less hour to a project, it can feel like you’re letting yourself down. However, this could not be further from the truth. In reality, stepping away from a project and taking time to do a different activity will help you recharge and be more productive when you return to work.
Check out: How to Stay Motivated When You Work from Home
Three Work-Life Balance Tips for Remote Workers
1. Reframe how you think about work-life balance
Yes, work-life balance is the buzzword you will hear most often, but it’s not always the most positive way to think about structuring your time when you work from home. When you work remotely, your work and personal life naturally blends together.
Perhaps you have kids coming in and out of your home office during the summer, your dog might go bananas when the mailman comes and you’re in the middle of a meeting, those dirty dishes in the kitchen might be calling your name—the list goes on. Rather than trying to divide work time and personal time, think of integrating work with your life.
For example, purposefully schedule some time each day to do anything other than work. Some days you might be able to take two or three 20-minute breaks, one day you might not be able to step away from meetings at all, and another day you might have a whole afternoon free. Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Other ways you can integrate work and life might be listening to a work-related podcast while going for a walk or taking a networking call from a coffee shop rather than your home office,
Check out: How to Be More Productive Working from Home
2. Create a positive work environment
The great thing about working from home is that you get full say over what your work environment is like. Whether you work from an actual office, an attic, or a small nook of the living room, make sure your space inspires productivity and reduces stress.
Get yourself a comfortable chair, make sure you have all the office accessories you need like a phone charger, sticky notes, or printer close at hand. Good lighting is often overlooked—make sure you have adequate sunlight or get a lamp that simulates sunlight to help improve your overall mental and physical wellbeing. Lastly, deck out your space with things that make you smile. That could be family photos, fresh flowers every week, or a silly toy to fiddle with.
Creating a place where you feel comfortable working will help you more easily transition between your work and your personal life.
Here’s how: Create a Home Office with These 10 Tips
3. Set boundaries and stick to them
Boundaries are so important when you work from home. Clients, friends, and family will often assume that because you work remotely you are always accessible. That’s simply not the case and is a recipe for work-life balance disaster.
Decide on a general schedule of work hours that is best for you. Then, talk to clients, friends, and family and let them know those hours. Make sure clients know when and how they can contact you during the day. Unless it’s an emergency, don’t respond to email or answer calls outside of those hours. That just reinforces to a client that you are willing to break your own rules. Make sure to do the same for friends and family. Once these boundaries are set, people will quickly get used to them and it will let you more easily structure your day.
Try it: How to Set Boundaries at Work When You’re Self Employed