Working from home is a luxury enjoyed by many franchisees up and down the country. But things can quickly unravel when you get the urge to check social media, keep walking to the fridge and slump on the sofa in front of daytime TV. Here are our top 10 tips for creating a great work-life balance when your home is your office.
Whether you run a home-based franchise unit or not, the COVID-19 crisis has shown us just how important it is to be able to work efficiently outside of the office. But this doesn’t come naturally to many people. It can be easy to get distracted and end up working long into the evening. So, we’ve compiled a list of 10 useful tips to help you establish a great work-life balance.
1. Stick to your working hours
When you’re working from home, you may find it difficult to stay focussed on the task at hand. All sorts of distractions beckon, from TV shows and social media scrolling to chatting with your family or housemates. Many brush this off as one of the perks of the job – you can always work into the evening after all – but try to stick to a strict timetable. The more productive you are, the more time you’ll have to relax later on.
2. Establish a routine
If you see flexibility as one of the biggest advantages of working from home, you may be reluctant to set out a routine. But humans are creatures of habit and, chances are, you’ll be far more productive if you stick to a routine every day.
Once you’ve done this, you can work out exactly how much time you need for each task you do and adapt your timetable to boost your efficiency. And, if you set a pattern of starting and finishing work at the same time every day, you’re more likely to increase your time off and reduce your stress levels.
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3. Have a dedicated workspace
Depending on the type of business you run or belong to, you might spend a significant proportion of your day working from home, rather than being out and about meeting clients. This situation could suit you perfectly, but it does mean you’ll need a dedicated workspace.
If you don’t have a separate office or study, you’ll need to set up a desk somewhere away from your living area. Consider moving to a spare bedroom, loft room or even the corner of the dining room. Wherever you choose to work, make sure there’s a physical door, so you can shut yourself away from noisy members of the household.
4. Create a to-do list
Many people find they achieve more if they set themselves clear goals at the start of the day. Doing this will give your day structure and focus your attention. Organise and prioritise tasks in a simple to-do list.
Separate urgent jobs from ones you can afford to defer. Then, if you find you’re struggling with one of your main tasks, you can take ten minutes to do something relatively simple like replying to an email or making a quick call. This short distraction should help you revisit the big task with fresh eyes and get you back on track.
5. Keep a log of the work you’ve completed
Keeping track of how much time you spend on each piece of work may seem like another admin task, but it can be a handy way of identifying the times you’re most productive. If one job took two hours to complete during the morning, but a similar one took twice as long in the afternoon, you know you were more efficient before lunch.
Once you’ve got the information you need, schedule your more complicated or demanding jobs for the times you’re most productive. This will not only save you time, but will probably benefit your business in the long run too.
6. Take regular breaks
Even the best business opportunities can become overwhelming if you dedicate too much time to work and not enough to rest and relaxation. Taking regular breaks can help you stay energised and focussed throughout the day. Just as you would join in office conversations or chat with co-workers in the kitchen, you must make time to switch off for a few minutes when working from home. If you feel you’re losing concentration, take a short break to browse holiday destinations, catch up on the news or text a friend.
Lunch breaks are just as important. Don’t be tempted to carry on working at your desk, just because you’re in the comfort of your own home. Cook yourself a delicious hot meal or meet your friends in a local café.
7. Complete errands or household chores during breaks
If you’re working from home, you can do the jobs you’d normally have to cram into your evening during the day. Put a wash on, water the plants or do a quick tidy whenever you feel you need a short break. This will give you the chance to get away from your work whilst being productive. If there’s something you need to do in your local area, you could always run an errand in your lunch hour. Then, you’ll have your whole evening to relax.
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8. Get outside
It can be all too easy to go into hibernation if you have the option to work remotely, but getting fresh air every day can be hugely beneficial. Not only will a daily walk boost your productivity and refresh your mind, but it should also improve your mental wellbeing. So, make sure you schedule time to get away from your work environment and all those screens, and get back to nature.
9. Put work away at the end of the day
This is perhaps the most important factor in creating a great work-life balance. Finish work at your planned stopping time, close your laptop lid, turn off your monitor and pack up your papers. Even better – close the door on your workspace. Physically putting your work away should help you mentally switch off from your day job and help you relax. It’ll also help you avoid quick, late-night email checks that turn into hours spent at the computer.
10. Have technology breaks
Nowadays, we have our work emails and colleague Whatsapp groups on our personal phones, so it’s easy to take our jobs wherever we go. But, if we never switch off, we’re likely to damage our work-life balance. To avoid this, try building ‘technology-free’ periods into your timetable.
Most franchises don’t require you to be contactable 24/7, so embrace your downtime away from phones and tablets. In an ideal world, you would switch off your devices at the end of your working day and turn all your attention towards relaxing with your family and friends. If this isn’t possible, set specific ‘technology breaks’ and stop using your devices at mealtimes or, if you have children, at playtime and bedtimes.
Enjoy a fantastic work-life balance
Working from home has plenty of perks, but you’ll be able to enjoy them fully when you’ve developed a great work-life balance. It’s no good being able to avoid the commute, be with your family and have lunch in the garden if your work ends up cutting into your free time.
You can enjoy a great work-life balance with one of our home-based franchises . Browse our list of lucrative opportunities and compare their business models, investment requirements and franchisee criteria to find the right one for you.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©