There’s a lot to love about working from home. Being at home all the time means more time spent with family, more time spent relaxing and more time spent doing the things you love…in theory. That’s what working from home should mean, if you set boundaries and learn how to balance your schedule. For some freelancers, working at home means work-life imbalance. With an office desk just down the hall, and work always calling, working from home can mean working all the time. It can be tricky balancing work and family, but it’s something that has to be done.
Knowing how to establish a balance can mean better quality of life and better relationships with the people you live with. Here are some suggestions to make that happen.
Set Your Working Hours
Set business hours, and hold yourself to that schedule. Lots of gig and freelance workers put in more than 40 hours per week. If this important for you, then build that extra time into your schedule. Draw clear lines with your family – so they know when to leave you alone, and when they can expect you to be available. Try not to stray from your working hours. You might occasionally work extra hours in the week to meet an important deadline, but make those experiences few and far in between.
Talk About More Than Work
Your spouse, roommates, children, parents – who ever you live with – may get tired of hearing about your work. You come out of the home office for lunch, and you’ve got work on the mind, so that’s what you talk about. Then, the day finishes and you sit down to dinner… and you talk about work again. It’s hard to think about anything else when you spend most of the day at home, and your home is your workplace.
Make an effort to talk about more than work when you’re with your family, especially when the day is over. Turn off the “work” side of your brain, and turn on your other interests, especially the other interests you share with other members of your family. Ask your spouse and children about their days, and ask follow up questions. Part of balancing work and family is showing your family that you’re in a head space to be with them when the work day is over.
Re-balance to Make Room for Quality Time
Your life should should feel balanced – or at least, not overwhelmingly unbalanced. If you feel like you spend way too much time working, rebalancing is in order.
Adjust your schedule. Do you want to avoid working on weekends? Starting your Monday through Friday work days earlier to make that happen.
Redistribute work. It may be that you’re taking on more work than other members of your team. If so, redistributing could help ease the burden and bring you back to center.
Cut back. Know when it’s too much. Rather than burning yourself out, cut back a little at a time until you’re balancing work and family. Make a new budget if this means working fewer hours.
Find the right gig. It may be that the work you do isn’t paying enough, and that’s why you’re working all the time. Find the right gig to help you re-balance.
Work is important, but nothing is more important than family and loved ones, and time spent together. Make 2021 the year you discover how balancing work and family can be done, so you can find happiness professionally and personally.
About the Author: Kathryn Elwell grew up in the Midwest. She has experience in management and human resources, and has been writing on these topics and more for 12 years.