A topic that I have covered extensively on my own blog, and a topic that I will likely continue to revisit from different angles for years to come, is the notion of finding some sort of balance when working from home. I come from the perspective of my running my own freelance writing business for the last 10+ years, but the fundamental mentality is much the same regardless of the kind of work that you do, whether that’s affiliate marketing, mobile app development or whatever else.
From the outside looking in, running your own business from the “comfort” and “convenience” of your own home office can sound awfully appealing. This is especially the case if you currently endure a particularly long and grueling commute to your regular place of work. I’m not here to tell you that a home office is necessarily superior or inferior to coworking spaces or anything like that, but I would like to explore some of the work-life balance dynamics that are involved with having a home office.
All Work and No Play Make…
If you’ve been at this game for any length of time and if you’re anything like me, then you’ve likely experienced the same kind of mental anguish, feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. This conundrum has become substantially more pronounced since I became a father, since I’ve taken on the additional responsibilities of being a full-time stay-at-home dad, in addition to my duties as a professional writer and blogger.
The crux of the situation is this:
Because I *can* work at *any* time, I feel like I *must* work *all* the time.
Have you ever had that feeling? You’re sitting on the couch, watching Netflix or reading a book, but in the back of your mind, you’ve got a work-related task nagging at you. Do you feel guilty for taking an extra long lunch break, because you know that you really should be working on that ebook or online course instead?
Life Gets in the Way?
“Regular” things in your life can force breaks upon you, like getting together with your family for lunch or dinner. But they’re not really enough. How many times have you left your computer on in your home office as you walked over to the dining room for dinner? You told yourself that you’re probably “done for the day,” but you’re going to leave the computer on “just in case” you want to do something later.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re done working for the day, but you want to leave your computer on so you can watch some Netflix or play some video games later. And that could be one big lie you’re telling yourself, because the hustling go-getter that you are, you start working on a new blog post and suddenly it’s past midnight.
I Got Hustle Though
This post isn’t for slackers and procrastinators. If you don’t have that unwavering burning desire to get more done, this isn’t the post for you. For the rest of us, shutting it down for the day is actually one of the greatest challenges, because we always want to do more and accomplish more.
So, what’s the solution?
You can probably guess from the title of this post. Despite what you may think about your personality and preferences otherwise, the human brain is wired to prefer predictable routines.
You ever wonder why so many professional baseball players go through a specific, superstitious routine every time they step up to bat? The same reason why so many professional basketball players have a free throw routine or professional golfers have a routine every time they step up to the tee. Michael Phelps developed a day-long routine for every competition day and the hardware he has collected speaks for itself.
The same is true with training your brain to understand you are done with work for the day. The actual specifics of the routine don’t matter as much as your dedication to stick to the same steps every day, every time. Shut down the computer, turn off the monitors and speakers, turn your office chair a certain way, and drink a glass of water while staring out your window. It doesn’t matter. Just do the same thing every time.
Start Menu -> Power -> Shut Down
By creating a consistent “end of work day” routine, you are better able to fend off those desires to check your email one last time or skim your RSS feeds for just a couple minutes. If you’re done for the day, you’re done for the day. And you can have a far more productive tomorrow.