I’m lucky to have a wonderful view from my downtown Scranton apartment. Across the street is a law office and sometimes I can see people working at their desks or milling around in the office. Last Saturday I was working on a pet project of mine, when I looked out the window from my desk and noticed someone in her office, working. On a Saturday! The horror! Then I thought back and realized that office’s light is on an awful lot – early mornings, late at night, most Saturdays (but rarely Sundays). How could someone work like this? Then I came to another realization: I noticed these things while sitting at my desk, working.
This slightly voyeuristic story shows something that a lot of folks struggle with, perhaps especially those of us who work from home: it’s hard to find a good balance. I thought I was more mindful of it because I’ve been working at home for most of my professional life (minus 3 years when I had an office job).It's hard to find a good work and home life balance when you work from home. Click To Tweet
For those of us who usually work from home (or the occasional coffee shop, coworking space, or airport), it’s very easy to wake up and do your normal routine, then sit in front of your computer. It’s easy to eat dinner and then ‘answer that email’ really quick. For me, it’s much, much easier because my desk is across from my bed. But it could also be unhealthy.
The Guilt of “It’s Right There.”
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll get this guilt sometimes if I see something that can wait and choose not to do it. I mean, I’m right here…in my ‘office’ and at my computer. Why shouldn’t I do it?You shouldn't feel guilty for not working. Click To Tweet
But you shouldn’t feel guilty for not working. No one expects you to be working all the time – not only can that have negative effects on your health, but it can also negatively impact your work. Rest is really, really important, and everyone (probably) knows that.
I’m not saying never go above and beyond. I’m saying choose your battles. Always going above and beyond is bad for business. I know my boss, Chris Lema, has said this, but apparently not in writing, so citation needed :-).
So how do we find good balance and get rid of that guilt? I recommend drawing boundaries.
One of the things I’m most excited about with the apartment Erin and I are moving into after we get married is that it’s a 2-bedroom. That means for the first time in my life, I will have a home office that isn’t also my bedroom. I’m excited at this prospect because I think it will help me draw some much needed boundaries. It will create a barrier from where I live and where I work, even of the barrier is having to walk down the hall.Simple boundaries at home can be really helpful. Click To Tweet
Something some of my coworkers do is set some time aside every day where they say, “I don’t working during these hours.” It’s on their calendars, and everyone knows and respects that. It could be for family time or just time to unwind a bit, but carving out that time and sticking to it can make a big difference.
Aside from boundaries, I (and I’m sure many folks in my field) have another “problem.” My job is also my hobby. It’s excellent, but it can also lead to burnout.My job is also my hobby, which can lead to burnout. Click To Tweet
Find a Different Hobby
I’m not saying abandon your hobby if you also get paid for it. I love, and am incredibly lucky that I love what I do enough to do it on my free time. It’s how I try new things, create side projects, and get better at my craft. But it’s all about balance.If you work in front of a screen, get a hobby that takes you away from one. Click To Tweet
I’m constantly sitting in front of a computer. Because of that I have some hobbies that take me away from the computer. I play the drums (sometimes), run, built legos, smoke cigars, and take photos. These things get me out of the house, off of my butt (mostly), and work a different part of my brain. When I do come back to my job/hobby, I feel a lot more refreshed and ready to tackle the next big challenge.
It’s Up to You!
There are no hard and fast rules to finding a good work/life balance. If you’re single, you will prioritize your time differently than if you have children. If you have a flexible schedule, you can work on your own time, but you also need to make sure to take time for yourself.
A good work/life balance is as good for your productivity as it is for your personal health. It’s important for us to remember that, as if you love what you do, it’s easy to get engrossed in it.