5 Tips for a Healthy Work Life at Home

Tips for a Healthy Work Life at Home  |  The Fresh Exchange

How many of you work from home? If you do, you may agree with me that it can sometimes be a love/hate relationship that errs on the side of love. If you are someone that is highly distracted, then working from home can be a challenge in many ways. You can either be distracted by your work or other life tasks that need attention. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on your work when you have dishes that have been hanging out in your sink for a few days. It’s also hard to stop working when you have endless hours at your disposal. After working in an environment where I walked into an office, sat at your desk, and left when the day was done, I had to re-adjust my mindset. I like to call myself a creative analytic, meaning that I create the best when I have structure. So, what do you do when you work from home and have to create your own structure? Here are 5 things that help me maintain balance.

1. Pick a starting time. Whether you like to begin your workday at 8 a.m. or 1 p.m., it’s important to pick a starting time. Since I work for a creative studio, I have the flexibility to start and end my day at a time that works best for me. When you have this flexibility, it’s important to set your mind at the beginning of each work week with a starting point. The hours between your starting time and ending time can be flexible. Even if you are the type of person who can work sporadically throughout the day, you need to have this structure. When you have a starting point, you know that you will always have an ending point: a finish line. I like to start my day early because my mind marinates on ideas over night. I sleep on them, then wake with anticipation to implement my ideas and take on the world. Depending on when you exert your energy and creative juices, you may start your work day at a different time.

2. Write down your projects and tasks and have a weekly review. When you don’t walk into an office with sticky notes lining your desk or have team members or bosses around the corner, you need to have an organization system and weekly meetings. When you and your teammates each have different tasks and responsibilities it’s important to make sure that everyone is on task in order to make business run smoothly. Your bosses want to know that you aren’t sitting at home watching Friday Night Lights when there is a project deadline. This is self explanatory, but it’s always good to have a reminder that accountability is key. We like to use Podio, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Sunrise Calendar to keep track of our daily to-do list. When Wild Measure is on the go, we use Google Hangouts or Fuze to have weekly business meetings. With a creative brain it’s easy to veer off task when you have a million ideas swirling around in your head.

3. Find a place that is comfortable with little distraction. No, I don’t mean your bed although it’s tempting and comfortable. When working from home or a home studio, you want to find a place that will be comfortable for you to concentrate for 5 hours or more. I typically sit at my kitchen table. I open the blinds to allow the natural light to filter through the windows, and I turn on music that fits my mood for the day. I know myself well enough to know that I can become easily distracted, so if I feel distractions creeping upon me I will move to a coffee shop after lunch. It helps to break up my 5 hour work sprint. I think I speak for most people that when I am more comfortable, I am more productive.

4. Take time for breaks and vacation. Working with two entrepreneurs, I know that breaks and vacations are few and far between. When you own a small business, your work does not end. There is never an 8-9 hour work day at Wild Measure. We work around the clock. We all love what we do, and we inspire each other to do our best work. One thing we have to tell ourselves is that it’s ok to take breaks or a mini vacation. When I spent time working in Northern Michigan for two weeks, we worked as soon as the sun came up and found ourselves working when the sun went down. We would have to remind ourselves to take breaks to walk to the sandwich shop or run on the dunes. Mike and Megan wanted to show me as much as possible, but we had to work before we played.  People may think that when you work from home you get more vacation time, which can happen, but often times it’s quite the opposite. You face the danger of allowing work to consume your life 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Remember to breathe and enjoy the few minutes you have between projects.

5. Don’t forget to socialize. I am a social person and get energized when people are around me. However, when I am immersed in work I tend to crawl into a little shell and forget my need to be social. This summer I worked remotely and had to make sure I had coffee, lunch, and dinner dates everyday. If you are introverted then working alone isn’t a problem, and is likely exactly what you need. I still believe, even if you are an introvert, you need to push yourself to socialize, because we draw inspiration from human interaction. For me, it is the best inspiration to grab coffee with a friend then snap back into work mode. After having a good conversation or volunteering, I feel more energized to finish my day’s work with fresh ideas.

These are just some tips that have helped me manage and balance my time, work, and social life since I work from home. If you are an entrepreneur who works from home, what are some tips that have helped you manage your time? How have you created a structured yet creative atmosphere?

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  1. I really LOVE working from home. I can be at the office, which is quite nice actually, and really LONG to go home. Not because I don’t like my job – but because I love being at home so much. I am super efficient at home, while at work I don’t seem to perform as well actually….

  2. Great article with some wonderful tips! I put time on my calendar to realign my to-do list, a monthly email inbox cleanup, and scheduled time to get up and do some yoga or even walk the block. Those refreshers give me fresh perspective for each day and allow me to stay on my game when I’m working from the home office.

    For me, design and aesthetic is everything.. and when it feels stale, it’s time to invite a fellow creative to come in and join me.

  3. Thank you for this very informative and insightful post! Though I go to work in a corporate office every day, I have found that when I work away from the office (at a coffee shop or even in a waiting room while my windshield is replaced!) I tend to focus a little better. A change of scenery is important to my creative process.
    When I get home from my office work at the end of the day, I’ve tried to create a space at home where I can sit down and work on my other personal project for a space of time. The dedicated space and time at home has helped me stay focused and motivated to work on personal projects after a long day at the office.

    Thank you for the great post!

  4. These are great tips for online students as well! I found picking a specific schedule and sticking to it really helps me focus and ensures I schedule time with family and friends. If only I could fit in a vacation instead of working during school breaks…

  5. This is great and couldn’t be more true! I particularly agree with your last point about socialising. When I first started working for myself that was the first thing I let slip. Now I have a healthy balance of the two and feel much happier for it!

  6. great tips 🙂 i love working from home, though sometimes it can be challenging, either to concentrate, or get completely stuck in work as well. thanks for sharing!
    xo, cheyenne

  7. I rarely comment on blogs but I just wanted to say that I loved this post as a new “soloprenuer”, and the direction this blog is taking into the more “real” category. You guys rock!

  8. I work from home and find myself stretching the work day. I’ll just finish this and oh I forgot to invoice that order that is due tomorrow. I try to be disciplined but work just seems to take over.
    Love your blog and your helpful tips. Thanks

  9. I always need to make sure that I slot in some time for daily exercises, even if it’s just a walk around the block, so my brain and body can breathe again

  10. I’ve been reading the blog for a while but never commented. This is a post I can relate to as a fellow small business owner working from home. I do some of what you suggest but there’s some lovely reminders in here of things I’ve let slip. Thank you for a great and inspiring post.

  11. I really liked number 3 and 4. Distraction is a big deal for me. I have to make sure my office is clean an d organized bc if its not, I just can’t get ant work done bc I’m distracted by the mess. And yes, breaks are so important for creatives. When your on a break or vacation that’s usually when creativity happens! Greet post!

  12. Such an insightful piece from someone who really seems to understand the realities of working from home. Although I am puzzled; I first read this article a few days agos and am now revisiting it- I thought Taylor Meadows penned this particular piece?

  13. This post was exactly what I needed to start my day with today. Thank You!! I also love working from home as it allows scheduling freedoms I otherwise wouldn’t have. I do, however struggle with balancing my distractions and fulfilling my social needs. This has reminded me that I need to be more diligent with my planning. Planning my work day schedule and planning social outings so I feel connected and to quote you “energized” needs to be a priority. Helpful tips!

  14. Thank you for posting these ideas. I just accepted a job where I will be working from home all of the time. That being said, do you have any guidance for creating a work space? We recently moved into a new house so I can really create my own space. I just feel a bit overwhelmed!