No Commute But No Switching Off – is Working From Home Really the key to a better Work Life Balance?!
It seems that amongst us millennials, the 9-5 job really is dying out. Whether you’ve decided to go freelance, negotiated flexible working hours, or you’re one of the many ‘side-hustlers’ (those that have their own business alongside their 9-5 job), working from home is definitely a trend on the rise.
There are some obvious perks to working from home; your commute is precisely zero minutes, and you have total control over your working environment – meaning your choice of radio station, no more stuffy suits and FINALLY you can get a puppy (woohoo!) and to a certain extent, you can fit your lifestyle around your working hours. From the outside, it definitely looks like the rosy option, but in reality we aren’t all snuggled up in our pyjamas happily tapping away on our keyboard when we feel like rolling out of bed – oh no, working from home definitely has it’s flip sides too.
Firstly – the hours. You have to be a self motivator to work from home. If you run your own business, whether as a consultant, a blogger, or anything else for that matter, you don’t have someone breathing down your neck when you’ve got deadlines or a mounting to do list, oh no, you have to keep yourself on track. If you’re not self motivated, the temptation to just watch an entire Netflix series in one afternoon can often be too much. However, if like me, you have no problem with self motivation and instead your problem is that you enjoy working just a little bit too much, the downside of working from home is that you find it difficult to switch off, when the lines between work and home become incredibly blurred.
When you work in an office, you leave at a certain time, and when at home you can switch off to a certain extent. When your home is your office, it’s all too easy to just pop upstairs (or wherever you left your laptop) and catch up on a few more emails after dinner. A few more emails turns into hours of extra work, and before you know it, you’ve literally been working for fifteen hours straight.
So, does working from home really give a better work-life balance? Well of course, it is all in how you handle it. So here are 7 tips for getting the perfect balance if you work from home.
Top Tips for Working From Home
1. Treat It Like Work!
You have to get in the mindset of working from home, and so I find that acting as though I have a ‘normal’ day’s work ahead of me helps me get the day started effectively. So, I set my alarm for 6.30, and get up immediately. Lying in bed reading emails is a sure fire way to leave you feeling groggy. I usually head straight to the gym to get myself up, out the house, and moving ahead of a days work. Get dressed – you won’t be as productive in your PJs, but of course you can opt for loungewear or comfy clothes, and I always tie my hair up and put on some light makeup up, just to make myself feel presentable, even if no one will see me.
2. Upgrade your Environment
I find that having a specific place to work from makes me far more productive. If I work from the sofa, it doesn’t feel like work. So, I set myself up on the dining table and ensure I have all I need; usually my diary, notepad, laptop and memory cards! The dining area is the most well lit area in the house, and at this time of year I like to leave the patio doors open and have the radio playing quietly in the background.
Another environmental upgrade that’s essential for coffee addicts like myself is investing in a ‘proper’ coffee machine! One thing I used to miss during my working form home days would be a seriously good cappuccino that usually I’d treat myself to multiple times a day while out and about, so a game changer for me is our new Krups coffee machine. Scroll down for a full review!
3. Create Schedules and Lists
I start the day by writing down everything that needs to get done, and mentally plan how long I should spend completing each task. Ticking jobs off once you’ve completed them is incredibly satisfying and seeing your list helps you to manage time – it also acts as a warning of your work load, making you less likely to get distracted!
4. Give yourself a Break
Working from home means you don’t have those 5 minute catch ups with your co-workers or errands to run meaning you get to escape the office, and there’s certainly no set ‘lunch’ time. So when working from home it’s important to schedule yourself some breaks to stop yourself from getting frazzled. I used to find myself getting anxious about my looming To-Do list, and the worry of how much I had to do, meant I couldn’t even get one task completed because I’d flit between 7 tasks at once. I started to take very short breaks whenever I felt overwhelmed – literally just two minutes away from my desk, taking deep breaths. I’d feel refreshed, relaxed and have a clearer head afterwards; which worked wonders on my creativity.
5. Connect with Colleagues
If you work for yourself, this is trickier, but if you’re working for a larger organisation, it’s important to check in with your boss or colleagues to make sure you’re up to date with what’s going on in the business so schedule in catch up calls to keep yourself in the loop. If you are a sole trader, perhaps try to arrange meetings close to where you live so you can break up your day with some personal contact so you’re not spending the whole day like a hermit!
6. Change up your Scenery
Sometimes if you get stuck on a particular task, it helps to switch up your surroundings. It could be a different part of the house, or even a local cafe. If you’ve got time, a short walk or workout can help to clear your mind giving you an extra boost to complete the task at hand.
7. Keep yourself Fuelled
It’s tempting when working from home to just grab snacks throughout the day, but it’s so important to make sure you eat nutritious proper meals, as much as you would when in an office or during a day of meetings. If you are time poor then why not look at some of the services that offer pre-prepared nutritious meals that you simply microwave (my favourite is Everdine) or have some fresh vegetable soups pre-made so you can just heat up and enjoy. Equally – going back to my point about coffee, starting the day with a caffeine boost is a great way to kick start your productivity, so here’s a little more about my new favourite kitchen appliance!
A Working From Home Essential
One of the biggest game changers for me when working from home is the ability to make an incredible coffee. Call me basic, but for me, it’s an essential. A recent addition to our kitchen is the Krups EA9010, and the ability to now make a variety of coffees in my own kitchen is not only saving me a fortune from dashing across the road to the local cafe whenever I need a caffeine fix, but it’s a great crowd pleaser at dinner parties too.
It’s easy to use thanks to the touch screen (which even for technophobes like me is incredibly easy to both use, and set up) and most importantly, the coffee is incredible. I’m a cappuccino person, so the fact that it froths my milk as well as having an in built bean grinder means it really is no different to the coffees I’d order from my favourite coffee shop.
It makes a total of 17 drinks and you can even save your favourite ‘recipes’, but I’m more than happy with just pressing the Cappuccino button and letting the machine work it’s magic.
My only negative comment would be the size of it; it’s pretty huge and takes up a fair amount of our kitchen work space, so had our kitchen been any smaller it wouldn’t have fit in, but with it’s generously sized water tank and grinder which holds up to 250g of coffee beans, it really couldn’t be made much smaller.
It’s also worth noting that this is a serious coffee machine. A step up from the machine we had previously which only made one type of coffee, in two different sizes, and so price wise it’s more of an investment. If you add up how much you spend on take away coffees though over the period of a year for example, investing in a coffee machine of this quality could soon be a serious money saver.
Other features that I like include the ability to alter the size and temperature of your coffee, so you can make it to perfectly match your tastes, and the fact that there’s an in built water filter – making your coffee far nicer especially if you live in hard water areas like London.
For me, the final feature which I love, is that the milk-frothing is done externally. In the images above you can see a silver pipe behind the coffee cup – this is what froths your milk, and it’s not done inside the machine. This makes cleaning approximately a million times easier, and means you don’t have to store milk in the machine (which is what originally stopped me from getting an all in one machine in the past). You simply put milk into your glass, and press go. The silver pipe froths your milk, then moves back, and the coffee is then poured in. You just press the coffee you want, and the machine does the rest.
If you have any questions about the coffee machine, let me know in the comments below – I’d be happy to answer them!
You can get 30% off the Krups 9010 coffee machine by entering the code BLCF30OFF when you purchase here.
Want to see the machine in ‘real life’ before purchasing? They’re at the London Coffee Festival until the 9th April, at stand H20!
Thanks to Krups for collaborating with me on this post!