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WFH: Maintaining Work-Life Balance

Since February 2020, we've been working from home. (Even without mentioning the pandemic-shaped elephant in the room, this was always the plan for Syntactical!) In that time, we've picked up some tips that we'd love to share with you. Starting with the biggest tip of all:

Invest energy, time and effort into perfecting your work-life balance.

Here's what happens when work takes over your life: You sacrifice your physical health, you sacrifice your mental health, you sacrifice your personal relationships, and you end up so burned out that your actual work begins to suffer, too.

That's not an appealing series of events, obviously. And it's easier than ever to fall prey to when the boundaries between 'work' and 'home' are blurred. When there's no natural boundary enforced.

Here are our five top tips for maintaining and respecting work-life balance, even in the home office...

1. Don't fall prey to mission creep

In your own home, it's a billion times easier to get distracted.

Have you heard of 'mission creep'? It's a military term. It refers to "a gradual shift in objectives during the course of a military campaign, often resulting in an unplanned long-term commitment" [Oxford Languages].

In a non-military sense, it means getting off-task and off-track. And it can be the bane of a WFH professional's existence.

Picture this: You go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea at 3pm. Suddenly, it's 4pm and you're cleaning the microwave. You have not done the work you were supposed to do in the last hour.

In these moments, which are much more frequent in your own home (since it's full of chores, distractions and non-professional responsibilities), you need to recognise mission creep and stop it in its tracks.

Stay on task, and finish your work more quickly.

Finish your work more quickly, and enjoy more free time to spend as you please (even if you do decide to spend it cleaning the aforementioned microwave).

2. Take real and regular breaks

This is especially important if you're home alone, and there's nobody to check on you and say, "Hey, you've been sitting in the same position for five hours. Maybe it's time for a break?"

Learning to pause is a really important part of building a healthy working practice. Our brains get tired when we push them too hard for too long.

Make sure your breaks are long enough, regular enough and free enough of additional screen time - particularly if your job essentially comprises of staring at a screen all day like ours.

3. Stick to your start and end times

Set yourself, if not a full schedule, a start time and an end time.

When you're freelancing, the work can be pretty hard to structure, always subject to change. But at the very least, you can get yourself into a healthy schedule by starting and finishing at the same times each day.

This will also help you to recognise when you've set yourself an unrealistic amount of work, and rectify this.

If you know you won't fit the work into your set hours, you can then a) take less on in the first place, b) shift delivery timeframes and deadlines to be more realistic, or c) consider expanding your business and hiring new people.

There's only one of you. Don't work yourself to the bone.

4. Separate work from play however you can

Not every home comes with enough space for an office or a dedicated office space, but if yours does, make use of it.

Separate the place you work from the place where you relax or sleep, and you'll find it far easier to switch off once you've exited this area.

Physical space isn't the only way to separate work from play, though, so don't fret if you don't have enough room for that. You could also:

  • Turn off (and leave off) your laptop once the working day comes to an end

  • Wear a "work outfit" of some kind and change out of it once work is over

  • Decompress between work time and leisure time with some exercise, a walk or a yoga session

  • Get outdoors/into the world between work time and leisure time to simulate the decompression of a commute

5. Do what feels right for you

This is, arguably, the most important tip of all. You'll see a lot of different advice online about how to manage working remotely, but not all of it will suit you or work for you. So try things out, and try them on for size.

Does a strict routine make you feel happier and healthier, or does it feel stressful and restrictive? It's up to you!

Do you like starting work at 8am or 8pm? The world is your oyster! (Assuming your working situation allows for this, and it won't just baffle your boss.)

Do what feels right, and remember that practice makes perfect. It's all about finding the things that work for you, and the ways to work that make you feel most happy and well-balanced.

If you think it might help to take some things off your plate during the working day (allowing you to finish at the time you're supposed to be finishing), why not consider outsourcing your copywriting, proofreading or editing needs?

Get in touch for an obligation-free chat today.


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