When it comes to working from home, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to making it work. Factors such as the nature of your particular job and the dynamics of your living situation can play roles in how you handle it. Possibly the biggest danger when you’re working from home is losing control of the dividing line between your work time and your personal life.
While there aren’t any easy answers that work for everyone, there are a few tips that can get you started.
3 Tips to Strictly Divide Your Time When Working from Home
Here are some general principles. How you apply them in your own situation will be up to you.
Prioritize a Work-Life Balance
When you’re working in a physical location or office space outside your home, it’s easier to create a dividing line in your head between work time and the rest of your life. When your remote work takes place in your kitchen or living room, however, the lines tend to get blurry. The next thing you know, your work/life ratios are all out of balance.
Before you can worry about how to maintain a healthy work/life balance, you’ll first need to be aware of the concept and make tackling it a priority. After all, you can’t solve a problem you can’t name. And you can’t name it if you’re not aware that it’s there. By prioritizing this balance, you’ll be more aware both of the potential dangers and their solutions.
Do One Thing at a Time
In many ways, the productive advantages of multitasking are mythological. Even when we’re “multitasking,” we’re still only doing one thing at a time. We’re just splitting our focus between our tasks in smaller bursts.
“People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves,” said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, “The brain is very good at deluding itself.” Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says that for the most part, we simply can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. (NPR)
When we’re working from home, there’s a constant temptation to try to take care of our dual work/life responsibilities at the same time throughout the day. Our dream of multitasking leads us to believe that we can do our chores, make our work calls, cook lunch, and oversee our children’s activities–excelling in every area simultaneously and letting no details fall through the cracks.
The truth is that in trying to split our focus, we’ll inevitably lose track of what we’re doing. Instead of trying to multitask while working from home, we’re much better off focusing on one task at a time, knocking them steadily and surely off our to-do list as we move through the day. This will make the work we do more focused and effective. We’ll also be in a better position to divide our work and personal time.
Choose When You’re “On”
When working remotely, there’s a strong chance that work will take over your life completely. The biggest danger here is not necessarily your major projects. But the small, almost mindless tasks that drip in throughout all hours of the day. The thing is, you know what happens when you decide to answer “just one quick e-mail” or “just check something on the website before I forget.”
The next thing you know, you’ve taken your phone to bed with you. Now, you’re lying flat on your back at midnight, squinting at your tiny screen and hammering out follow-up responses with your thumbs.
Decide ahead of time what your workday will look like. Choose the hours you’ll be “on” and stick to them. This is one of the best ways to keep your work time and personal life separate when working from home.
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