How do I maintain a healthy work life-balance when working from home?

Submitted by Pete via the Workfrom Slack.

I prefer to utilize my calendar. I like to add breaks in for myself and focus on maintaining a daily schedule/routine. I try to maintain clear start times and when I can, clear end times.

I lean on the Workfrom Slack community to engage socially as I would if I were onsite in an office. I also focus on connecting with friends and family several times a week. Whether this is by phone, over facetime/skype, or even a quick text, I find it helps.

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Yeah, while it’s nice to have more flexibility (which tends to come with remote work), I’m with @jessporec on this one, and like to have something resembling a schedule. I also (used to) have a gym session calendared into the end of my day that would force me to finish up, get to the gym, and transition out of “work mode”. Sometimes I’d come back after that, but for the most part it signaled the end of the day.

I’m worse at having a clear boundary in the morning – mostly because I end up with a bunch of calls in the mornings and so I tend to get out of bed, get coffee, and then immediately start working. When I’m on top of my game, I get up a bit earlier, and spend a little time in the morning going for a walk, checking out my garden, or just something else to wake up and get moving.

I turn off all work notifications on my phone so that I’m not always feeling tethered, and do the same on my iPad (which I also use for focused work sometimes).

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I hate to have to say it this way, but it just requires some discipline and sometimes the ability to say no. Chances are the work will never end, so extra hours or days won’t catch you up. You just need to figure out how to put down the pencil and walk away.

Currently, I use the end of my wife’s work day to help delineate mine. At times in the past, I’ve used work/fun alternation to balance things out. And of course, much of the discipline I have about it now is from royally screwing it up and learning from those consequences.

One part that doesn’t get talked about as much is learning how to be more effective rather than putting in more effort. For example, when I was self-employed, I figured out how to structure fixed price projects for likelihood of high profitability and found services where I could charge by the value to the client rather than the effort I expended. At other times, I spent a little non-billable time, either during or between projects, to create tooling so I could be more efficient as a labor multiplier.

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@srvance you bring up a good point about saying “no”. Sometimes I find that I just need to step back and re-evaluate. Can this task/project wait? For how long? And will waiting make the task significantly more difficult to complete? I find answering these things help me feel good about walking away and coming back to it in order to keep a schedule where I can have a better work life balance.

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