For as much freedom as working from home can provide, maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky. "As I always tell my home-based entrepreneurs, working from home is like an obstacle course of distractions to overcome," says Julie Melillo, a life coach in Manhattan. "From watching TV in the background or texting memes to your friends, to tasks that will just take a minute, it can be super hard to focus at home."
Searching for ways to better balance your career and personal life when you work from home? We asked Melillo and holistic success coach, Awilda Rivera, for their advice and here's what they had to share.
1. Create a distinct workspace.
To successfully maintain a work-life balance when working from home, Melillo says it's crucial to create separate spaces for work and relaxation. "This allows your brain to snap into either work or leisure mode," she explains. "At the end of the day, close your work station, and move yourself to a part of your home that represents leisure to you. If you're lacking in space, or working at the kitchen table, replace your work objects with something that signals your brain to relax, like a Bluetooth speaker playing music."
2. Find a focus object.
If a totally separate home office area isn't possible, Melillo says some visual cues can help. "During working hours, place an object in your line of sight that tells your brain it's working time, perhaps a clock, a work to-do list, or even the company logo on a coffee cup; anything that signals to you that it's work time," she says. "Also, remove distracting objects from your line of sight such as laundry, books, or your new craft projects."
3. Get dressed for work.
As tempting as it may be to work in your pajamas all day, Melillo says it's a bad idea when you WFH. "If you wouldn't run an errand in the outfit you're wearing then you need to change," she says. "Dressing in comfortable but work-friendly attire, like casual dress pants or a chic but basic dress, helps you to remember that you're in work mode."
4. Follow a schedule.
In order to truly maintain a work-life balance when working from home, Rivera says you'll need to create a daily schedule — and stick to it. "It's important to create a schedule that allows you to be productive but also earmarks time for relaxation and recreation," she explains. "Decide on a time to 'sign off' every day and honor that each night by putting your phone on do not disturb. You can set a reminder on your phone to help."
5. Go outside every day.
If you aren't taking breaks to get fresh air and sunshine while working from home, you're doing it wrong. "Make time to go outside every day, even if it's just for a few minutes," Rivera says. "Whether it's taking an evening walk or hanging out in your own backyard, it's important to get out of the house and change your environment."
6. Schedule downtime.
One of the hardest things about working from home is knowing how and when to take personal time for yourself. "You might find you can't relax in your free-time or can't even watch a movie without checking your work email every five minutes," Melillo warns. "To ensure you get a mental and emotional break from work, schedule downtime for yourself every day. You need a rested brain to be your sharpest and most creative when it's time to work."
7. Stay connected.
Above all else, Rivera says the key to a work-life balance is to always stay connected to loved ones while working from home. "Social connections are essential when you work from home," she explains. "Talk on the phone with friends and family at the end of the day, especially if you live alone, and try to schedule a social outing at least twice a month to avoid feelings of burn out."