12 Habits To Create A Better Work-Life Balance In Remote Work

Remote working is increasingly popular, so much so that some people are refusing to return to a physical office, even if that means finding a different job. The perks of remote work are alluring, but the lines are easily blurred between professional and personal life when both happen in the same place.

Finding a better work-life balance requires deliberate effort and the cultivation of better habits. In this article, we’ll explore 12 actionable habits that we have found to improve our own work-life balance, and if you implement even two or three, you’ll also find a more harmonious balance. 

12 Habits To Create a Better Remote Work-Life Balance

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1. Establish a daily routine

This sounds extremely easy, but trust us, it’s definitely the hardest part of remote working. Treat your routine just as you would at a physical office – there’s an arrival time, a departure time, actual meal breaks, and normal expected work times.

Whether you are one of those people that get up and run 10 yogas in the morning, or you chug a sugary coffee drink (no judgment!), don’t start working when you pick up your phone in bed, and certainly try not to work while going to bed (the blue light is bad for you, messes with your sleep, and the stress screws up your health).

Time blocking and time boxing are popular ways to structure your time (especially if you struggle with focus or procrastination as a remote worker). Here are some tools that can help you and in many cases do the scheduling for you with AI:

2. Trigger your brain

Create a designated area specifically for work, where you can fully dedicate your attention to tasks at hand. Make sure this space is comfortable, properly illuminated, and neatly arranged. By doing so, you will send a clear message to your mind that it is time to engage in productive activities, thus improving your concentration while working in that environment.

If you don’t have a separate room to dedicate or even a table to use, we highly recommend getting creative and using “night mode” on your laptop or desktop so that at night, your screen has dark features, and day has light features, again sending a clear signal to your brain that some times are for work and others most certainly are NOT.

And if that’s not an option, consider triggering your brain with smells – perhaps work time is when you burn candles or use a special incense (and if you are in an area with other people, you can always have a highly scented candle that has a screw lid so you can open it during the day without burning, and still smell it, then close it at night). Voila!

3. Set clear boundaries

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Once you’ve established a routine, it is time to communicate clearly what those work hours are and how they can best interrupt you (or when they shouldn’t). We’ve often used over-the-ear headphones to indicate focus and a preference not to be interrupted, signaling that no headphones means we’re accessible.

When people around you, be it friends, family, or colleagues, know your boundaries, and you’ve communicated them professionally and kindly, the likelihood of their respecting those boundaries is infinitely higher than if you hadn’t set or explained boundaries, right? 

4. Dress for success

We love pajamas more than almost anyone on the planet, and this trick doesn’t work for everyone, but dressing for work is something plenty of people swear by when it comes to improving work-life balance as a remote worker.

It’s a tiny change that has been shown to improve motivation, but if it sounds terrible, you can always wear professional fashion on a specific day of the week (so you don’t go too feral).

And if even that sounds untenable, consider one piece of professional garb to integrate, whether it is socks (and you’re usually barefoot) or your nice jewelry or watch – you get the idea. 

5. Prioritize tasks and set goals

Utilize various task management software (see #1) to effectively arrange and structure your workload. Arrange tasks in order of their respective due dates and significance. Establish realistic objectives on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to uphold a clear sense of motivation and guidance.

We highly recommend closing out your Fridays by documenting a few of your top accomplishments for that week, and at the end of each month, selecting your top achievement so that when it comes time for a performance review or a promotion, you’re already tracking tangibles. Plus, no one else is going to do it for you, so pat yourself on the back!

6. Embrace time management techniques

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Our first point was to set a routine. Time blocking is a popular method for managing time, but it’s not the only way.

Two other techniques we love are the Pomodoro Method and the Two-Minute Rule.

The Pomodoro Technique is 25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks. Longer breaks, typically 15 to 30 minutes, are taken after four consecutive work intervals, and each interval is called a pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato.

The Two-Minute Rule is great for ADHD folks and isn’t structured beyond doing any task at any time that can be finished within two minutes. In other words, any task that can be done in under two minutes should be dealt with promptly instead of being put off. The rationale behind this technique lies in addressing short and simple tasks immediately so that they don’t accumulate.

7. Take regular breaks

Prevent exhaustion by incorporating regular, brief pauses into your daily routine. Use these moments to engage in gentle stretching exercises or embark on a leisurely stroll. If you can’t physically step away, closing your eyes and breathing deeply for just 30 seconds can provide more of a reset than you might realize possible.

These intervals of respite serve as an opportunity for revitalization and can heighten your ability to concentrate effectively.

8. Limit distractions (or at least try)

While we acknowledge that some of our brains are wired to be in 100% distraction mode, 100% of the time, we can assure you that any work-life balance can be improved by minimizing distractions. You might consider website blockers during work hours, silencing notifications during focus sprints, and wearing noise-canceling headphones even if not listening to any music.

Although this can be an insurmountable task, limiting distractions means the likelihood of your work day ending on time is more likely – good luck!

9. Communicate like a champ

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Effective communication is crucial for remote workers. Keep open lines with your team, manager, and clients. Regular check-ins and clear communication can reduce misunderstandings and promote collaboration.

You may feel like you’re over-communicating, but we promise that’s better than radio silence. If you’re unsure of what level of communication your team members or clients need, just ask (and, of course, check in later to make sure you’re still meeting expectations). The bonus benefit of this is you are leading by example and helping others to see that you, too, need to be looped in clearly and effectively. 

10. Set tech-free times

Living in the era of advanced technology, it has become effortlessly convenient to stay connected all the time. Nevertheless, it is crucial to establish limits by allocating specific periods without any technological interference.

To unwind and revitalize ourselves, we should refrain from checking work-related notifications while having meals or right before going to sleep.

11. Prioritize self-care

Never underestimate the significance of taking care of yourself. It is crucial to prioritize engaging in activities that enhance both your physical and mental health. Make it a point to regularly engage in exercises, explore hobbies that bring you joy, and dedicate quality time with those who hold a special place in your heart. These practices will revitalize not only your mind but also rejuvenate your body.

It sounds kind of hokey, we know, but if your stress levels are at untenable levels, your health will inevitably suffer and make it less possible to do this work at all. At a minimum, consider yourself a Tamagotchi pet you have to take care of with basics like sleep and food, okay?

12. Learn the word “no”

Although remote work provides individuals with the advantage of flexibility, it can also bring about a situation where one becomes excessively committed. It is crucial to develop the skill of politely declining when you are already overwhelmed, even if something is for a good cause.

Establishing clear limits on your workload plays a vital role in ensuring that you maintain a sustainable equilibrium between your professional and personal life. As they say, keep the main thing the main thing, friend!

In Conclusion: You’ve got this!

You can achieve a better work-life balance as a remote worker by adopting these 13 habits. It’s important to note that finding this equilibrium is an ongoing process and may require adjustments along the way. Prioritizing your well-being, establishing clear boundaries, and remaining adaptable are crucial.

Creating a daily routine, dedicating a specific workspace for work purposes only, setting distinct limits between personal and professional life, and implementing effective time management strategies will enable you to fully enjoy the advantages of working remotely while also nurturing your personal life.

Maintaining focus, staying organized, and practicing self-care are not just beneficial for your remote work experience but also contribute to overall satisfaction in life. Remember that achieving balance is essential for long-term success and happiness in your remote career journey; keep pushing forward!


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One Response

  1. Been a small business owner using 100% remote working and RVing since October 1998. Remote work initially was by voice call, Fax, and 56k dialup MODEM. The 12 habits are a good summary. Of the 12 we find time blocking, breaks, and self care as our top 3 on the list. We’ve maintained clients on both coasts, so our work day might span 12-13 hours, but we time block to 7 or 8 work hours. We add one habit which is a subset of #9: Knowing when to have a physical client face-to-face. Some clients are fine with a deliverable, some are good with routine teleconferenceing, some like short messaging, and others require more “having you there”. Hope everyone can find remote working successful and enjoyable as we have over the past 25 years.

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