A lot of people in WordPress struggle with their work-life balance, especially those working from home.
This was true even prior to the pandemic. In a remote work type of job where you can often set your own hours, establish your own workspace, and complete your projects however you’d like. Often, so long as the work gets done well, employers or clients will be pleased.
And while this level of flexibility is certainly nice, it also comes with an immense amount of responsibility. If you’re working from home, that means work life and home life are constantly at odds. And it’s all too easy for the balance between the two to become lopsided. That’s why implementing a variety of measures to achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance is essential.
Today, we’ll be exploring a number of ways you can create balance in your remote-working life so that you are more productive and actually enjoy your time off more. It’s a win-win all around.
1. Make a Schedule
One of the first things you should do when working from home is to establish a schedule. I know, this might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, part of the appeal of working remotely is getting to choose when you work for yourself. But this freedom can sometimes backfire. Creating a schedule and sticking to it can actually be liberating.
For starters, having set hours means that’s when you focus attention on work. If you don’t set hours, it’ll be way too tempting to work all the time, any time of day. Think of it this way: with no scheduled “on” time, you also don’t have any schedule “off” time.
Secondly, you can pick the times that work best for your personal productivity. Early bird? Set your work time for the first half of the day. Night owl? Plan out-of-the-house activities for the morning or early afternoon.
And within this schedule you can prioritize tasks based on their urgency and the amount of focus they require. So, when you’re bright-eyed and bushy tailed, plan to complete your more intensive work. Save the administrative stuff like answering emails for when you’re less focused.
A few apps that can help you with setting a schedule include:
- Trello — A project management app that allows you to create boards and cards for your clients and projects. Set deadlines and reminders, perfect for scheduling.
- Toggl — A time-tracking app that lets you manage a schedule and keep track of time spent on specific projects.
- Freedom — An app for blocking distractions. Makes jumping around social media less of a temptation when you’re on a deadline and also helps you save time in the long run.
- Cushion — This app was made for freelancers and is a great choice for WordPress workers. With it, you can create a schedule and forecast your schedule to do long-term planning.
- TeuxDeux — Another great to-do app that makes it easy to plan out your days.
Think Outside 9-to-5
When making your schedule, you also need to think outside the box, so to speak. Just because you’re doing a job, doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work between typical business hours. 9-to-5 isn’t necessary. Unless your clients require that you work between specific hours for conferences or something, you can set your hours to be in the middle of the night if you want to.
Realizing you do have flexibility to set your schedule whenever you’d like also makes it easier to make and keep other personal commitments. You can attend your kids’ school events, go to doctor’s appointments, and still get your work done with greater efficiency.
Just one word of warning: once you make your schedule, stick to it. It’s all too tempting to shift things around on the fly just because you can. However, this is when work-life balance ends up falling apart. Certainly, changing things up on the day is okay sometimes, but making it a regular habit will destroy your work life balance as you’ll inevitably end up on the laptop at midnight to catch up at some point.
2. Create a Dedicated Workspace
Another aspect of creating work-life balance for your WordPress business is to create a space that’s solely for work. If you live in a small space, this can be a challenge. However, even then you can claim a corner of your dining table as your workspace during the day and clear it for the evening when you’re not working. What’s important is having a spot that’s your work zone and when you sit down there, your brain kicks into work mode.
Better yet, if you do have the space, dedicate a corner of a room or a full room as your office space. Keep it away from your main living area if you can — this will minimize distractions if you live with others — and reduces the temptation to just “check in” on work during your off hours.
This also makes it easier to eliminate distractions. Again, if you live with others, having a dedicated workspace means your roommate or spouse won’t walk through the background of your conference call. It also means you won’t get sucked into watching whatever is on the TV out in the living room.
When putting together your space, make it comfortable yet professional. You want it to be presentable for on-screen viewing during conference calls but it also doesn’t need to be stuffy. Prioritize ergonomics in the desk and chair you get. Perhaps get a standing desk if that suits your needs better. This is your space so make it work for you practically but also don’t be afraid to personalize it. You’re not working in an office for a reason, right?
Pro Tip: Have “Do Not Disturb” Hours
Flexibility in this is okay, but it’s best not to drag the laptop out to the couch at night unless in an emergency. We’ve all worked overtime for in-office jobs on occasion. Just don’t make a habit of it.
And while you might scroll on your phone in the evening, turn off apps like Skype, Zoom, or Slack during your off-work hours. There’s no need to be getting work-related notifications during your personal time. Most apps allow you to set notifications to snooze after a certain period of time, so be sure to explore the settings on your phone specifically to set these.
I have actually taken this a step further and got myself a tablet specifically for entertainment purposes. It’s what I use to browse the web, watch YouTube, play games, etc. at night. Absolutely no work-related apps allowed! Can recommend it.
And please, resist the urge to check your email from bed. You might think you’re getting a jump on your day but in reality you’re just creating anxiety and stress in a space that should be all about relaxation and rest. Keep work out of your relaxation space!
3. Exercise Regularly
Another key component of establishing work-life balance as a WordPress worker involves getting up out of your seat and moving regularly. Exercise is essential for maintaining your physical and mental health.
To make sure you prioritize it, write it down on your work schedule! Let’s face it: if it’s not written down as a “to-do” item, it probably won’t get done, right? So jot it down and do it. Your health and overall sense of happiness will improve.
Prioritize Getting Outside, Too
Along with getting regular, scheduled exercise, getting some sunshine is vital as well. While you soak up that Vitamin D, you’ll also get a chance to clear your mind. Many opt to exercise first thing in the morning. You can kill two birds with one stone here and go for a run or brisk walk.
If the weather is good, feel free to take your work outside on occasion. Sometimes, the change of scenery can ramp up your productivity. Regardless, it’s all too easy to remain cooped up inside all day when you’re hard at work. Take advantage of your work-from-home situation and get out often.
4. Coordinate Regular Skill Refreshers
No matter what job you have, it’s easy to get complacent in your skill set. A great thing about working from home is that you can take more time to improve yourself. However, the temptation to do this work on your off-time is high. Instead, schedule time a few times per month to read up on development news at sites like WordPress.org or WP Tavern and to brush up on specifics that could use some honing.
Planning ahead of time means this sort of refresher work doesn’t creep into the life part of the work-life balance. Improving your work skills is work, so scheduling for it will ensure it remains an office hours-only task.
Learn Something New
You should also attempt to learn a new skill on occasion. Once every few months, consider taking a course in another aspect of your work you’re not as familiar with. Or learn something entirely new like graphic design or marketing.
Doing this helps to round out your skill set and provide you with added perspective on your regular WordPress work. But of course, add this learning time to your schedule so as to not find yourself cramming in your work education on personal time. A few great resources to check out include:
Any of these sites could make great resources for learning a new skill.
5. Take Breaks Often
Another great way to institute balance into your schedule is to take breaks. Sometimes working at home or in a co-working space can make it feel as though you need to work, work, work. If you’re your own boss, you are responsible for assigning your breaks, too! Failing to take breaks can lead to burn out so be sure to schedule them throughout the day.
If you’re really engrossed in a project, at the very least, stand to stretch regularly. This will keep your body limber and also help your mind and body maintain focus.
Plan and Take a Vacation
Speaking of breaks, a part of establishing a consistent work-life balance is planning vacations. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but taking a vacation is good for you in the long run and is something you should be doing with regularity.
Working in WordPress and working for yourself in general lends itself to an all-work-and-no-play mentality. Now is the time to break that mode of thinking and instead adopt a more balanced approach that includes time for relaxation.
Once you return to work, you’ll be even more productive for having taken that time off, too.
Put the “Life” Back Into “Work-Life Balance”
Working with WordPress in any capacity, especially from home, can make it tempting to work all the time. But you should resist that temptation. Achieving true work-life balance will not only make you happier; it’ll also make you a more productive worker.
To meet this goal, you can make a schedule (and stick to it). This includes scheduling in breaks and committing to turn off your notifications after hours. You can also create a dedicated workplace to minimize distractions and interruptions. Exercising regularly and getting outside often are also important ways to create more balance in your life. And finally, you can schedule opportunities to improve your skills or to even learn new ones.
At the end of the day, achieving work-life balance as a WordPress worker will require a special type of discipline and flexibility. You may find that you need to adjust things as you go. But taking action on the tasks outlined here will push you in a positive direction.
Now, I want to hear from you. How do you keep work time and personal time distinctly separate?