I’m chained to my desk. Four days have passed without leaving the house and I barely noticed. I ate Saturday’s leftovers for lunch because there’s no food in the fridge. My kids think their mother’s gone AWOL, my husband feels like he’s flying solo (he is) and my friends think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.
Right now there’s an excellent reason for this – I’ve been giving my all to our new baby – Project Me. (The irony of working on a website that encourages busy mothers to find balance is not lost on me!)
But the patience and goodwill of my nearest and dearest is not unlimited. I know that if I carry on working at this pace it’ll compromise my relationships.
That’s why I’m setting myself some clear rules around work – and reclaiming me time and we time in the process.
Finding ways to drag myself away from work is tough. I love what I do and, if I’m honest, most days I’d rather be writing blogs than cooking the family dinner.
So what’s the key to working from home effectively and keeping everyone happy?
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
Setting physical boundaries is crucial. If you don’t have the luxury of an entire room to work in, carve out a designated area where you can get peace and privacy. Working all over the house on your lap top makes you feel scattered and your productivity levels take a noticeable nose dive. By default this’ll also create some sacred family space.
Set working hours
I’m the first to admit that this is really a tough one to stick to. I find it hard to know when to stop. (I don’t just have that problem with working!) I quietly sneak back when no-one’s looking and do a bit more. Or, even worse, work under cover – sending sneaky emails from under the blanket during family movie night.
Although it’s a constant battle working only within the hours I set, scheduling them in gives me a framework to aim for. It also gives my family an idea of when I’m free for them (and makes me accountable).
Eat, Drink, Breathe, Stretch
Either at certain times of the day or when I’ve finished a particular task, I schedule in a break to stretch, top up my water and get a snack. (My yoga mat is permanently laid out in my office in the hope that seeing it will encourage me to hop on and throw a few poses.)
I have a couple of large glass bottles of water on my desk which I reach for constantly. Seeing them there is a reminder to drink enough. Not only do I stay hydrated – and therefore mentally alert – it also means I have to go to the bathroom, forcing me away from my desk!
Catch some rays (or at least some fresh air)
Now that that my kids take the school bus, it’s easy for me to hole myself up in the house for days. Once stationed in front of my screen, I’m happily there for hours. It can be hard to remember there’s a real world out there! But getting outside is not only vital for topping up all important vitamin D – it also gives much needed perspective. (What feels incredibly urgent right now may well seem less important when you get back.) It’s not easy, but it’s important. I have to force myself into it and I urge you to do the same.
Create a shutdown scenario
Working in an office gives you obvious hints that it’s time to pack up and go home. Not so at home where you can take your laptop to the kitchen and work while the supper is simmering. Decide on a time to sign out of email and social media. Get organised for tomorrow by deciding your most important tasks (we’ve got a great Action Sheet for this). Then get out and shut the door both physically and mentally.
Work will always be in competition with your family life. But remember the old adage: those on their deathbeds never wished they’d spent more time working.
Make time for you, your man and your kids. You need them. They need you.
How about setting yourself a goal to Set Some Boundaries Between Work and Family Life in 2015?
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How do you set boundaries between family and work life? Need some accountability in stopping work infiltrating your family life? Let us know in the comments box below.