What's Your Work/Life Balance Hack?


There are two schools of thought when it comes to working from home: it’s either better for your productivity or it’s worse. I’ve always fallen into the first camp based on experience. When I work from home, I’d argue, I don’t need to commute—that’s at least an extra hour of work time right there. And there are fewer distractions, no people to stop and chat with in the hallways, no brief moment of office mischief to allow hilarity to ensue. Better yet, there’s less decision fatigue and decision-making in general. No one can see that you’re wearing the same pants as yesterday and no one knows you waited until lunchtime to shower (so I’ve heard). And when you’re trying your damnedest to not read all The Very Awful News, there’s always work to distract, followed by more work, and a little more work, sprinkled on top.

Right now, a lot of us are navigating uncharted work from home territory. Work has become our everything—a crutch from the headlines, a juggling sport for parents, and a source of panic for the millions currently in pursuit of it. It’s also become more difficult than ever to separate this work mode from everyday life. When your bedroom is also your office, how do you know when it’s time to turn off Slack? When every Sunday morning feels like every Tuesday morning, how can you let your brain relax? A few years ago, a friend of mine interviewed a CEO about her work habits. One thing that really stuck with me is that she’d whip out different scents for different tasks throughout the day—one scent for emails, another scent for brainstorming, and so on. The idea was that smelling each unique scent would trigger her brain to refocus on a new task. So I tried wearing a “work day” perfume, and switching off to a nights/weekend perfume when the time called for it. After a few days of that I found myself falling into the same unhealthy work/life balance that brought me to try it out in the first place. Another friend told me that I should set an alarm at the end of each work day, and to play a very non-work song to get out of my work state of mind. I’ve found other tips on the internet, like leaving my laptop in the closet through the weekend, and scheduling time for “fun things” as I would schedule things for work.

So far I… have not been successful, and yet I know that carving out space for joy, no matter how big or small, is now more important than ever. Maybe the answer will be in comment section here. What are you doing to separate business from pleasure over the course of a day or week? How are you balancing work and home life? How are you giving yourself a break when now, it’s never been harder to do?

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG.