Working in a home office is ideal for many writers and editors. We can go to the grocery store in the middle of the day if we want to, write or work whenever inspiration or motivation hits. Those with kids (or in my case dogs) can keep an eye on things at home, without sacrificing a paycheck. However, when you’re working in a home office, it can sometimes become difficult to separate the office from the home. Personally, sometimes I find myself finishing up work in the afternoon but not able to turn my “work brain” off.
Working at coffee shops is expensive; and if you’re in a city like me, sometimes libraries are packed full or just not in a convenient location. So, how can you take full advantage of the home office while keeping things balanced?
Set time limits
This one is perhaps the most obvious, but it works. We often use time limits in order to keep ourselves productive and keep track of our hours, but we can also use time trackers to let us know when we’ve worked enough.
At the beginning of each project, I map out how long I will need to work each day in order to keep my deadlines. Then, once I’ve worked that amount of time and reached a good stopping point, I stop. That means no checking emails and no I can just do one more page. When you’re done, you’re done.
This method of time tracking also serves as a convenient way to track how many hours you’ve worked on a specific project. If you’re a freelancer like me, this will help you make accurate hourly invoices. If you’re a writer, it’s good motivation and structure.
Note: It’s important that the time you’re tracking is actually time worked. I turn off the clock if I’m doing anything other than editing (getting coffee, playing with the dog, talking on the phone).
Get out of the house
Like I said earlier, when my work day is over I have a hard time turning off my “work brain” and letting myself relax. I find myself still wired and thinking about whatever project I’m working on and not present with my family and friends. Recently, I’ve started combatting this with making a routine out of getting out the house and doing something active. For example, sometimes I ride my bike to the gym for a workout class. It kicks my butt and puts a halt to any unwanted work thoughts because I’m too focused on just breathing. By the time I get home I’m spent, and I feel great about a productive day.
Though, sometimes going to the gym isn’t an option. And sometimes I don’t feel like going to the gym. Fresh air is good at clearing the mind. So just sitting on the porch for a while or walking the dog usually does the trick just as well.
Have a hobby
It’s easy to finish work, and then think now what?
I find it’s a good time to channel that productive energy into something I’ve really been wanting to do. For example, learning an instrument, learning a new language, or cooking a new dish. This is also a good time to catch up on that reading I’ve been meaning to do. If you’re anything like me, you have an ever-growing stack of books to read.
Balancing your work and your life is a huge part of remaining happy with your job. It will also improve your working and personal relationships, because you are making time for yourself. All of us need to recharge occasionally, and all of us deserve a break to avoid burnout. Reach out to me on social media to let me know how you unwind after a long day of working at home!