Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is creating some unique challenges. People are hosting virtual meetings in their closets and kids are going to virtual school at the kitchen table. Are the lines between work and play starting to blur in your home? Check out these great tips to bring balance back into your life.

Create Separation

Out of sight, out of mind, a “Work Free Zone” is a great way to separate yourself from your work so you can clear your head. If you have to make a room multipurpose, add a barrier to the space to create a physical boundary for your work. For example, a is an easy and affordable way to divide one room into two.

Are you sharing workspace with your partner, spouse, or your children? In addition to creating a physical barrier to separate work from play, you can create a tacit barrier to block out your “co-workers’” noise. Use a white noise machine, or plug in your headphones to listen to music or a podcast. This will help to create a concentration bubble so you can focus on your work and not the noise being created around you.

Creating dedicated spaces based on the work being done can help alleviate issues around the house. Trying to read a document in the same room while someone is having a virtual meeting will cause distractions and impede productivity. Try setting up a quiet room to facilitate reading, writing, and other activities that require undivided attention. Conversely, find a place where family members can collaborate in group brainstorming sessions or meetings. Organizing your home based on activity can help everyone get their work done without causing a distraction or impeding other family members’ ability to concentrate.

Kids’ bedrooms can be a huge distraction to schoolwork and studying. Make sure your child’s school area is free from distractions like T.V., video games, or high traffic. While you want to keep your kids’ workspace separate from yours, you still want to maintain visual contact so you can keep an eye on them. This workspace doesn’t need to be perfect, just conducive to keeping their focus on school.

Stay Organized

In addition, to keep your workspace separate from your leisure areas, you’ll want to keep organized. Since many of the areas in your house are now dual-purpose, work, and play, staying organized will be paramount to your success. Here are some tips to help you achieve work from home success:

  1. Maintain a clean workspace. If you only take one step toward getting organized, let it be to clean up your workspace at the end of your workday. Unless you’re living in an 8 bedroom mansion you are probably going to have some overlap between your work and home in certain areas. Cleaning up your workspace and turning it back into a home space will help you achieve a better work-life balance during the pandemic.
  2. Give yourself plenty of storage. In order to maintain a clean workspace and to avoid clutter you’ll need to invest in storage solutions. The days of single-use spaces in your home are over for the time being. Since the space in your home is being used for school, work, and leisure you’ll want to choose flexible storage options. When picking out storage solutions, consider options that are portable so you can easily move stored items when re-purposing the space. It will also benefit you to choose a modular solution. This will allow you to stack and add on storage as needed. Check out Pinterest to see some of the storage options other work from home employees are using to get some ideas

Improve Your Work-Life Balance

In addition to remaking your space during the pandemic, it’s also important to reassess your work-life balance. When working from an office, there is a physical boundary between work and leisure. This boundary does not exist when you work from home so you’ll need to create it. Here are some tips for success:

  • Set a starting and quitting time, and stick to it. When working from home, the lines between work time and home time can blur together. By setting a hard stop time you are setting boundaries that will help manage expectations with your co-workers and family.
  • Take breaks every few hours. These breaks are a great time to check on the kids and fit in a run or a bike ride. If you don’t have kids in home school and exercise isn’t your thing, try a quick walk around the block. This will help clear your head and prevent physical ailments related to sitting at a computer all day.
  • Turn off your phone (and your computer). I often send messages to co-workers after hours. I tend to do my best work later in the evening. While I don’t expect a response, 9 times out of 10, I get one anyway. It’s easy enough to answer a quick question, but oftentimes that can snowball into 45 min of back and forth. Turning off your phone (and computer) will help you stick to the boundaries you’ve set and will prevent work from creeping into your leisure time.

Working from home is presenting people with unique challenges to their work-life balance. These challenges can lead to major issues in your personal life. You can take several steps to combat the tendency to overwork yourself. You can create a physical separation between your work and leisure spaces, get organized to facilitate using the same spaces for multiple tasks and create boundaries with your co-workers in order to set realistic expectations for your time. Prioritizing your mental health will lead to better results both at work and at home.

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