How do you personally manage work-life balance?
I’m not sure I do. 😉 But that’s not a characteristic of remote work, necessarily; I blurred those lines at my last job, which was co-located. The most I can offer is that there are “zones” in my house where I don’t bring … much … work, like the bedroom. I say “much,” because the mobile phone still comes with me.
I try to keep to a schedule. I get up and get out of the house and bring my kids to school, then I “go to work” which also happens to be my home office or maybe a local coffee shop and I close it out at the end of the day before I pick-up my kids. On particularly busy days or weeks, I will get back online in the evening once the kids are asleep, just like I use to do when I was in a typical office job.
Fred Kofman’s book “Conscious Business” talks about the idea of a work / life balance, and how if you believe in this, you’re essentially saying that while you’re working, you aren’t living. Personally, I want to live every minute of every day, and work is a big part of what enriches my life. Working remotely has given me more time and freedom in my day, and I am thrilled to see more companies testing the remote model.
I work in the office for the majority of the time. I do work remotely as needed. I do set boundaries for after office hours and handle only things that cannot wait until the next day. When I am specifically working remote for the day, I can do all of my work functions remote. You must have a life outside of work to be healthy.
Being part of a remote team has made work-life balance a much easier thing to accomplish. I make sure that my down time is preserved as much as possible, and also that my fellow colleagues and I can cover for each other whenever a personal need arises. My daughter is currently attending college across the country and I am able to visit her without sacrificing my daily job necessities or adding an extra workload on my colleagues.
I find that I need to set “hard stops” for myself at the end of the workday when working from home. At a certain time of the day, unless something is extremely urgent, I sign off and begin my personal time. We have a very flexible environment that allows me to manage my own schedule so if I need to step out for a personal appointment, I have the ability to do so. I simply manage my work outputs instead of hours worked.
I’m not going to lie, it can be difficult. Because there’s no clear location differential for my work time and social time, I have to really depend on the clock. Once the clock hits quitting time (more like forced quitting time for us) I have to logout of everything and ignore my phone for a while.
I find that my best personal successes in the work/life balance realm come from structured processes that guide me throughout the week. Over the last decade of remote work experience, my thoughts on various topics have evolved slightly, but there are still key traits I keep in mind relating to routines, nutrition, and fitness.
I’m not very good at it (my company is my baby), but I try.
One of our employees (Leon) has a nice trick he does: in the morning, he gets dressed, gets out of the house, walks around the block clockwise, then gets back in and goes to work. At 5pm, when work is done, he gets out of the house, walks around the block counter-clockwise, then gets back in and is “home”. Awesome! 🙂
I was at an awards ceremony earlier this year where someone said “There is no such thing as work life balance, it’s just life.” I have to agree. There are times when there is a lot to accomplish at work, and that takes precedence. At other times, family needs are more important. The beauty of working in a virtual-friendly environment is that I don’t have to miss my kids’ special events. Or I might be writing this really early in the morning, from my couch (I’ll never tell). When both work priorities and family priorities collide, I’m fortunate to work with a team of professionals who act like family and are willing to help out so no one’s family has to suffer. It all works out.
This is such a tough one! I think like everyone who can do their work from home, it’s such a temptation to keep going til the wee hours or to check email during dinner or True Detective, so I set myself limits. There are times that I won’t take a phone call or look at emails. If I need to work late, I’ll make sure I take time out for family time for a while, then go back to it. Myself, my co-VP and our President decided a while ago that we do not text or email each other about work after 9pm at night, and we likewise avoid sending emails to our team that late. That’s what Boomerang (the Gmail add-on that lets you schedule an email to send later) is for.
By being disciplined about work such as starting and stopping at regular hours (e.g. 8am to 6pm). I also work out of coffee shops at least a couple of days every week for a change of pace. On occasions, I’ll also work out of a scenic location (e.g. waterfront) using my iPhone tethering for Internet access. Since we are 99% paperless, almost all our employees (except sales & support) can work from anywhere, anytime as long as they have a laptop and Internet access. I’m also increasingly surprised on how much I can do on my smartphone (e.g. email, calendar, Google Drive, Trello, Salesforce, Slack, and Skype).
I set aside separate space for work. When work is over, I shut my laptop and put it out of sight in an effort to disconnect work from my family life. I also put my cell phone in a kitchen drawer until my kids go to bed. I may check it once or twice but I’ve found that an “out of sight, out of mind” strategy helps me check it less and spend quality time with my family.
I make it a goal to stick to set hours, understanding there will be times and days I work outside those hours but my set hours are my “norm.”
I try to get out of the house 1-2 times per week. For me, this means working at my local coffee shop or maybe grabbing lunch out of the house. It breaks up my week and helps keep me focused.
After working remotely for 6+ years, I decided to start working at a cowork space for a few days a week. I have found that getting away from the house provides better work/life balance, has allowed me to interact with other technologists in my community and made me a happier, more productive person.
More tips from the entire Chargify team.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever manage this perfectly! When I was starting my first company, The Fetch, I was very obsessive about it and worked all the time. I would often be up at 3am doing everything and struggled to move beyond a one-person control center. With CloudPeeps, I went in determined not to burn out and create boundaries. How you manage also has to do with your environment. I was based in New York for the first year of CloudPeeps and was there for the infamous Polar Vortex. I was working remotely in many dimly-lit spaces during that time and found it a challenge. As an Australian, I need my sun, daily nature and outdoor activities for balance and productivity – so I headed back to San Francisco in 2015 for comfort. Now, the most important things for integration are exercise, scheduling and sleep. I use ClassPass for great workouts, run along Crissy Field near my apartment and play indoor soccer via ZogSports. Dan Martell has a great video about how to schedule based on energy versus time management.
I have a home routine with plants and animals, so I schedule in such a way that I can accommodate my need to stretch and get my head out of the computer space for a bit. Working from home can be difficult for those who are prone to being more active, so the best thing you can do is make a schedule, map out activities, and stick with it.
Work and the rest of your life are generally more integrated when working from home. I see that as a good thing, at least for me. Even though in theory I could have a more unusual schedule, I typically work a very typical work day during business hours (getting to sleep a little more of course, since my 10 second commute involves walking to the next room over), then break for dinner, then work a more flexible amount in the evening that depends on how busy I am with different projects and responsibilities.
Personally, I don’t take too much time off as I’m following our communication channels and emails at all times. However, since we’re a distributed company, I often work from a coffee shop or a hookah bar in order to allocate some time for myself, review RFPs, draft specifications, plan content production, perform code reviews or other activities that require less distractions.
It’s difficult since I am very passionate about the work we are doing and I could spend all my time on it. Nevertheless, as the CEO, it’s important that I don’t set an example of being a workaholic or connected all the time.
I try to work for about 8 to 10 hours per day and, in my free time, I enjoy reading, learning, surfing, watching movies, and playing soccer.
I prefer to maintain a distinct separation between my work life and my personal life – it makes it easier to focus when I’m working and to get out of that headspace when I’m not! While a lot of my teammates love working from home, I go to a coworking space every day, because keeping those physical spaces separate is important to me. I don’t check my work email during off hours – I don’t even use the same browser for personal stuff that I use for work! Keeping strict boundaries like these makes it a lot easier for me to maintain a healthy work/life balance for myself.
I usually work Thursdays from home which allows me to take my kids to school, coach my kids basketball team and feel more connected with my community. It really is one of the highlights of my week and doesn’t affect my output at all. The time I would usually spend commuting is spent contributing to my family. Win-Win!
Personally, I stick to a “morning routine” that’s the same as the one I had when commuting to my previous job/company – eat breakfast, shower, put on clean clothes (t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops!), take kids to school … then head back upstairs to my spare bedroom-slash-home office. For lunch, I’ll often go out and meet up with friends for a sandwich (or tacos on Taco Tuesday). When the kids get home, they know to come say hi, but to “keep it down” when Dad’s on a conference call. And at the end of the day, I leave my office behind … I just don’t have to get in a car. So, for me, being able to collaborate with smart, skilled co-workers AND do so without commuting is a total “win-win!”
In a results-oriented culture, no matter what kind it is, you’ve got to work in balance, inspiration, and humanness. This is as much responsive artfulness as it is planned. But, again, at our core: we want people to walk away and have amazing families and be whole people. There’s some fun things we do — but at a simplistic level, we just encourage depth of friendships and balance of life.
It is a real challenge. Every day. I am learning to compartmentalize, to chunk my work into smaller pieces, and to set more realistic daily tasks (both for work and home). I am trying very hard to stop the addictive behavior of looking at my email every time my phone is in my hand, or responding to email in lieu of tackling an important project. While it is important to be responsive, looking at and responding to email coming in can be a huge distraction, time suck, and drain on productivity.
Every day is about choices. There are always things that I’m giving up. It might be the opportunity to finish a project before 5pm or having lunch with one of my kids. I don’t pressure myself by looking for the perfect balance. I recognize that I can’t give everything in my life the full time and attention I might want to give, but I do give my best to my career and my family. If I’m being honest, I need to work on doing things for myself a little more often.
When I started working from home, 12 years ago, I was told I wasn’t going to work at home but rather live in the office. I’ve tried to avoid that by having a dedicated office with a locking door (my kids were young when I started working at home). They had to learn when it was OK to interrupt me, and when I had to be left alone.
For the most part, I still work a pretty routing 8-5 day. That said, I obviously do some work outside those hours sometimes, and when I travel, it’s usually an 8-10 day each day. But as long as I’m not traveling, I try to limit my hours to a normal 40-esque unless a big project is going on.
When you work in a normal job, your daily commute enforces routine on your day and makes the mental jump between your personal environment and your professional environment really clear. When you work from home though, you have to find other substitutes for that process, so some of the things that I’ve found help the most are keeping a regular schedule, and using environmental cues to trigger the mental transition between personal time and work time.
I try hard to achieve balance between my personal and professional life. As a business owner, I know that I have to commit more than the typical 40-hour week in order to be successful, and my family knows and understands this. I try my best to stop working at 5pm every day and spend at least 5-8pm with the wife and kids. Many nights I need to jump online and work for several hours, but I try to do that on a laptop alongside my wife.
On weekends and vacations, I try to slip away and get work done when it doesn’t affect family time. So if I need to put our youngest down for a nap, I’ll work during that time. Or I’ll wake up early or go to sleep late so I can work while everyone else is sleeping.
I also commit time to make sure I’m healthy. It sounds cheesy, but it is important for me to go to the gym ~5 times a week and eat really healthy meals. This does take some time, but in the long run it means I (hopefully) won’t be dealing with health issues or not able to keep up with my kids. It also sets a good example for my kids to follow (my wife has a similar regimen).
I’m not the greatest at balancing it all, but I try to have a clear approach to balancing work and personal life so that I have a solid framework to operate within.
My husband and I run Greenback together and we have three small children (ages 5, 2 and 11 months), so it’s always a bit of a juggling act. I have a few rules that I try to follow: I don’t work on weekends unless its required (i.e. I take weekend days off to spend with my family unless there is a genuine business emergency); we take family vacations (so many entrepreneurs and small business owners skip that important ability to take a step back!); and I never miss a school play/sporting event/etc. regardless of the business need. I recently started using a co-working space in Bali and it’s been really helpful in completely separating work and life, even though I also have an office in a separate building in our house as well. It really just helps to keep the work and family parts of my life separate by being in completely separate places when working.
It can be really, really hard to build a company culture where you encourage people to switch off after work. When you work remotely, it’s easy to pick up your laptop and take care of a few tasks at any time of the day. It’s not that you feel obliged to: you simply want to do it! Especially if you care about the company you’re a part of, and your teammates. I know this from personal experience and I used to be incredibly bad at it, especially when I worked from home. The most positive change I made was to find myself a good, comfortable office, and tell myself that working in the evenings once I wrap up at the office should be the absolute exception, not the norm. That’s been crucial for my mental well-being!
Speaking for myself, my work and life are seamlessly integrated. Writing is as much a part of my life as it is my work. However, I do have hobbies and activities that I do regularly. I exercise every day, go snowboarding in the winter, and around 8 pm I hang out with my friends. But for the most part, reading and writing is something I do the moment I wake up and sometimes it’s what puts me to sleep.
My home office is awesome and I don’t have a problem living where I work because I set designated spaces for each task (eating, reading, working, sleeping, and exercise).
I try to make sure I get at least 5 solid hours of productive work in every day. Outside of that I’m lucky to have friends, colleagues and family who are all available to hang out, work out, eat out, etc. so I’m not at a loss for human interaction.
I set my calendar each and every week, making sure I integrate social activities and exercise. On Sunday evenings, I review my week and block out times to head to the gym, do groceries, grab dinner with friends and other activities. I find it is very important to ‘shut off’ and allow yourself time to re-charge throughout your week.
With everyone being constantly connected I think it’s important to make sure you get enough downtime from work — even more so in a remote setting where your coworkers might be in the middle of their workday when it’s actually evening for you. I personally make sure to spend the hours around dinner with my family and not look at my phone. When the kids are in bed, I might do some work sometimes, but I’m very deliberate about not letting that become a habit.
Several times a week I will take a few hours during the regular work day to go do something fun – usually the gym, tennis with friends, or a run. I’ll then usually make up for this by catching up for a few hours during an evening or on the weekends.
I also have developed a group of friends that work remotely for different companies. We try and meetup regularly to work and have lunch.
For me, time management is key. I try to plan time for both my work and my personal activities. I also try to incorporate my personal life in my business life as much as possible (ex: bring my kids on a work trip and explore a new city with them). Because I love what I do, much of my personal life and my work life overlap.
Working remotely gives you a great head start on the work/life balance—I use the time I used to spend commuting to the office in the morning to take my dog for a walk and to eat breakfast without rushing out the door. I also try to make sure I have some “offline” time in the evening so I can spend a few distraction-free hours with my family.
I surround myself with strong, accomplished leaders – you can’t go it alone. That’s the big thing, and I am incredibly grateful for my business partners and colleagues. But every day I try to appreciate my own vulnerability, and accept the fact I can’t do it all. I have to be honest with myself, know my limits, acknowledge openly my weaknesses while confidently embracing my strengths, approach life and work with humility, and ask for help when I need it. Approach things holistically – there isn’t a different “work person” and “life person” – my goal is to bring my whole self courageously to work and to life, and I encourage our staff to do the same.
In the beginning I used to work a lot. Too much—past the point of being productive. Now I a maintain a good schedule. I always try to wake up before 7 a.m. Then I do a workout, eat breakfast, and head to a coworking space in whatever city I am in. I usually work from about 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. with a lunch break thrown in there. I also made the rule (OK, maybe more like a loose guideline) that I don’t work after dinner—I try and make a point to separate the evenings from work. Having good habits like this come in handy, and sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan, but for the most part it keeps a strong work-life balance.
I take opportunities as they come and try to balance priority initiatives with “low-hanging fruit.” Because I’m a remote worker and I work flexibly, I don’t limit myself to a 9-to-5 lifestyle. I find that taking a more flexible approach to work enables me to see the bigger LiquidSpace picture.
For me, the ability to work remotely and flexibly lets me be there for all the important moments for my family. I can volunteer at school and attend special daytime presentations. The flip side is that I often am doing part of my work at night or on weekends, but it is well worth it to me to be able to prioritize my time the way that is best for me.
Working from home can make it a challenge to balance things because there is always work; there are always household chores and family obligations, too. I never fully close the door on any of those things. However, I enjoy having a lot going on, so it works well for me!
I take breaks and spend time with family at times throughout the day, but I also will turn off email etc. notifications on my phone at times as well when I want to make sure I’m not distracted. I have a day light basement office, so at the end of my work day I get to go upstairs and shut the door on the office. At times I go for walks after work to have a segway between work and home.
I try to do a core set of hours daily to help people with predictability of where I will be, both at work and at home. I have a separate office space out of which I try not to take my laptop unless necessary. If I have a late call or have something that needs doing during the day, I will just try to shift around my hours to make it fit and let people know if they are going to be affected.
By creating a time-based routine. Once that’s set, it’s easy to make sure that all work that has to be done is done at the right time. If adjustments are needed, it’s easy to adapt as there is still a structure that can be followed.
For example, our founder Melissa works from 11:30am to 6:30pm, then takes a break and starts up again from 11pm to 1am. Most of her days are in team meetings or sales calls, and her nights are for dedicated and uninterrupted time to finish up tasks and important work.
Personally I start by creating a separation between home and work. This just works best for me because I don’t have a home office. So I like to start my day early and tackle Most Important Tasks from my co-working space between 9-2pm. This is also the main overlap with my teammates, so any huddles or one-on-ones usually happen at this time. I like to break up my day with exercise and then come back in the afternoon to continue working on the more admin-related tasks on my to-do list.
Working from home it is easy to work when I need to and do other things as I wish. I often combine work and exercise – lots of people really enjoy walking meetings. Truth is human beings were designed to move and many of us think better when we are moving!
Worst location where you’ve worked remotely? Best? Worst location is probably a noisy crowded airport with bad connection. Best- so many great places! On a beach – in my garden – in the mountains!
Every couple of months I like getting away from home and working from a completely new city for a few days. I find it really stimulating to take these mini retreats in new environments, and it becomes a good way to balance things you want to do in life (like visiting a new city) whilst staying on top of work. It’s also important for me to make time for maintaining a healthy social life, exercise, (non work-related) reading, and personal hobbies like producing music.
As a co-founder, poorly at times. But as our team has grown and we’ve had a family, we are pretty good about balance now. As for individual team members, it is entirely common and encouraged to put life first. Senior engineers commonly break midday or late afternoon to pick kids up from school or run them to soccer game or whatnot. Have a doctor’s appointment? Cool. Prefer to do your banking and grocery shopping 11 a.m. on a Wednesday when the store is empty? A+ life hack right there.
Managing work-life integration is an ongoing effort. I personally find looking at larger time scales—months instead of weeks, for example—is most helpful when planning in this kind of environment. At the end of the day, the question is about one’s ability to manage their energy. Finding those times in a day, week, or month where you are at your best for work and proactively scheduling that time is key. Same with life—find those times where you want to be with friends and family, and book them in advance. Building the high-level structure proactively, while it might feel constraining at first, gives you the structure on which you can build your freedom and be in the moment.
I take off during the day. I do a variant of the Pomodoro Technique, where I work for 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes off the desk. During the day, I often take three to five hours off to do sports, socialize, or read. I also enjoy working on Sundays. No one else is working, and I have no distractions. On the other hand, I might be off on Wednesdays. I have all the freedom I could dream of, and do my utmost to get the most out of it. Tomorrow, I’ll start working at 11 a.m. as I meet with some friends in the morning to play padel tennis. Tonight, I’m working late as I have a lot on my plate. Similarly, I flex depending on my motivation. Right now, it’s high, and I might work 60 hours per week. Other times it’s low, and I work 20 hours in a week.
We have projects and people in multiple time zones, so I get rid of the idea of “regular business hours.” I try to be flexible enough to accommodate early or late meeting requests. I’m clear about communicating the times that I’m not available. When I am focusing on work, I isolate myself from family and distractions.
I’m a father of two lovely daughters, and that imposes me certain work/life balance that I gladly welcome. I typically start at 7am and finish at 6pm, with one or two breaks in the middle to drop my daughter at school and have lunch. Every now and then I connect at night and work a couple of hours. All in all, a fairly standard work day. This is another myth to debunk: remote working doesn’t mean working at crazy or unusual hours.
This question is well-phrased because it uses the word “integration” instead of “balance.”
I used to find myself carrying a lot of guilt and stress when I thought of work and life as completely separate entities which needed to somehow be balanced precariously while walking on a tightrope over a giant pit where the remains of workaholics or work avoiders were strewn.
But when it started to dawn on me that work and life are actually an integrated continuum that requires care and cultivation, I felt better about both spheres.
Personally, I find that having a workspace that is distinct and separate from the home space is helpful. I also find it helpful to maintain strong routines, patterns, and rituals at both home and work. I’m getting better at curating my own attention in order to be more present in each moment. When I’m in a work conversation, I need to be able to be fully present and focused on that, not distracted by something at home. And likewise, when I’m at home, I need to be able to be fully present as a dad and spouse.
It’s certainly not perfect, and often the worlds end up blending into one another, but being conscious about where my attention is helps improve the experience all around. There are lots of other tips, tricks, and lifehacks that distributed workers learn, but the guiding Greek maxims remain relevant in the digital present:
“Nothing to excess.”
I’ve worked from home for many years, even before SitePen. Some things I’ve learned over the years: have a designated office with a door you can shut, move around the house periodically for a change of scenery, and know when to close the laptop and go outside and do something else! We have a flexible schedule, so sometimes I’ll break up my hours just for the heck of it. If my brain is burning out, I’ll shut down and come back later in the evening when I have good ideas again.
I like that you describe it as integration rather than balance, that’s definitely the case when you’re working from home or going to the gym to break up your work day. As a company co-founder, I feel a very personal need to get as much work done as physically possible and have some pretty weird working hours!
I generally have one full day off per week and the key is to make sure you get away from the laptop by going out and exploring California or riding around the city on the bike!
I work all day everyday! One of my big ways to refocus myself is to do Yoga or workout, which I try to do 5 days a week.
Sometimes I like to go on hikes, overnight camping trips or if it’s winter, skiing! The great thing about being remote is that I can work from a cabin all week without any decrease in productivity.
My family is really important to me. Working remotely is the perfect solution to travel sports. I bring my laptop with me all the time and am able to conduct meetings in the “luxury of my hotel room” without the client knowing any difference. I find that I spend 100 times more time with my family than what I would if I was the prisoner of a brick and mortar company.
Poorly 🙂 Just joking, as I’m working at 9 p.m. on this blog post submission! I love the fact that although we have core hours when we are expected to be available for meetings, to chat online, etc., if we have family commitments, school events, etc. we are able to make provisions to attend to other priorities. I think of it as a give/take scenario. Once you’ve established a level of trust with your manager and team, and they have confidence that you will get the job done, the actual schedule of your work day has room for variance. I love that benefit.
With a work culture that we have and the option to work remotely allows me to stay on top of my things and deliver the results as per a work schedule that is suitable to my personal life as well. This helps a lot to balance out my personal and work life and give importance and priority to both at the same time.
That’s a huge thing for us here at TeamGantt. We encourage the team to not work more than 40 hours a week. Everyone has things outside of work (family, church, hobbies, etc.) and it’s really important for everyone to have time for those things.
We also encourage a good routine. I work from 8:30 – 5:00 pm. This way I know what time I need to be downstairs and in my office by each day. My wife and kids also know my schedule and respect it. Then at 5:00 pm, if I’m not out of the office, my wife starts letting the kids in to help remind me to stop working. And I’m totally fine with that. Family is really important and I want to make sure that they have my full attention after 5:00. And by having a strict schedule, it works both ways. My family knows that I need to be focused on work from 8:30 to 5:00 so that I can have time on the evenings and weekends to be with them. So we recommend this type of work day to others at TeamGantt. They may shift their hours earlier or later, but the important thing is that they have structure to their day.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 18 and worked extensively across timezones and countries for the last decade. This means that my family has actually formed during this lifestyle of early morning kid’s errands, afternoon family time and late night calls to the other side of the world. My wife’s work as a writer has been quite location independent as well, giving us luxury of picking up our three kids and moving to other countries for a while. We just came back to Estonia from a 3-year stint in California, and have spent more time in Singapore and London before. We all agree that this time in new places together has actually made us stronger as a family unit.
I maintain a schedule that is only possible through remote working: I get up early (around 5:30am) and work for a few hours before I get my son up for school. After dropping him at school, I come home and go for a quick run. I’m typically back in front of my computer by 9:30am. I work until I need to pick him up from school between 5am and 5:30pm. I then spend time with him until he goes to bed around 8:30pm. At that time, I either log back on to finish up any outstanding work, or do the other household tasks that need to be completed.
This schedule permits me to have work/life integration. I can see my son and spend quality time with him. I typically do not waste time commuting and therefore spend more quality time working. It gives me control of my schedule and my life.
Both my husband and I have made a series of changes to flex our work, and to even work reduced hours when our children were very young. By doing this, we both had plenty of time and energy to care for our children and our relationship with each other. This year my youngest child graduates from high school, but my husband and I are still both committed to creating time for other things besides work. Tune in next year and we’ll let you know how things are going.
Boundaries are important. Over the years I’ve learned that to do my best work tomorrow, I need to close down my laptop at a reasonable time tonight, so that I’m rested and ready to do my “deep thinking” work (writing and reviewing) in the morning before my meetings start. I savor my weekends with friends, family, and pursuing interests outside of work and education. And when I take vacation I sign offline completely so I can truly recharge.
Work/life integration is not too complicated, as luckily all the family members are out at work/school/kindergarten during the day. What’s complicated, are the evenings, as quite often I find myself drifted behind the computer, attention away from the family. So yes, it takes special effort to set up time with my close ones.
As I always say, we’re a little family coworking, since my husband works from home too and our toddler spends her day with us. I can’t recall lovely pauses like the ones we enjoy together. And when the working day is done, we’re ready to go out and have fun together. When I used to work in an office, I couldn’t even hope to find a supermarket still open when coming home after work.
When you’re traveling all the time and planning these really exciting things all over the world that are often work-related, the work/life lines tend to blur, and you never really get burned out. Aside from that, I’ve found it’s important to specifically carve out time where I’m away from work. I play a lot of polo, so I rely on that to achieve this. Also, simple things like deliberately putting your phone down and making time to focus on the people around you is important.
As a mom finding time for family, business, and leisure, it is a huge challenge. I used to travel four days a week—now a little less since I moved to the U.S. For over 7-8 years I have been working in over 30 countries a year. Technology is my best friend. It is creating opportunities for new forms of collaboration, changing not only where we work from, but how we work, and who we work with.
I try to be as productive as possible at work, and when work is over, I try not to think about it. Too many people have a hard time relaxing or doing other activities when working from home, which research shows, hampers productivity. I’m a big fan of data- and the data clearly shows that there are diminishing returns to productivity.
I only have one life. 🙂
I have always been an entrepreneur and so for me I am happy if I am thinking, building things, and persuading people to buy things that they value (that my team and I have created).
Normally when I have free time I end up thinking about extra things related to the business, such as new concepts, features, and more.
You have to be very disciplined; when you are done with your day, I need to walk away from my office and not go in there unless I really need something! In the summer it is more challenging since I have a young daughter; I break up my day so I can spend time with her and try not to check email while we are together. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop working!
It’s not easy. Even though working remotely affords complete freedom, I’ve learned that I work best on a schedule. My most productive time is in the morning, so I typically start my day around 6:30am. Starting early also allows for a couple of extra hours of family time in the afternoon.
To unplug I run and I mountain bike. I’ve found that exercise is absolutely critical, especially as a software engineer, exec and entrepreneur, to keeping your sanity. I used to spend a lot of time at the gym, but I find that getting outside into the mountains or putting a few miles behind me on the road is a great way to keep energized and create some separation. (Even in the rain – we live just outside of Seattle). I also have an Australian Cattle dog who is a great company-keeper. There’s nothing better than stepping away from your desk and wrestling with your dog for a few minutes. I highly recommend dogs for remote-workers.
I tend to start at 7am in the mornings and get my meetings done early. Then I’ll focus on work that requires quiet time like coding, operations or writing.
As a founder it’s difficult to unplug. Our team works regular office hours and they almost never work late. Once they’re done for the day they’re usually completely offline until the next day. We don’t work weekends – I think one Saturday I was online and three of our team showed up on slack and I was a little startled – I think they were startled to see each other. They have weekends and evenings off and that gives them a good work-life balance.
It’s really cool to run a company that is able to provide that kind of balance and quality of life for our team.
We struggle with this. As boostrappers, we went all in. We lived off our savings and lived all things Workfrom for a year to get it off the ground. Yet, when we talk to each other about company culture and the company we’re working so hard to build, we don’t want a company of people working all the time. We want work to work around our lives. We want to swap photos of our great hiking, camping, road tripping, fishing and family adventures. We made a pact: we’d encourage each other to reach our pre-Workfrom physical fitness — as we realized the relationship between our fitness and ability to handle stress, make decisions and do good work. What we found was that by having this simple goal, we naturally began making and protecting “our individual time” … and could use this discipline to set better boundaries in other areas of life/work.
And we make sure that the other person has some unplugged time each week. It can be easy to see a Slack chat or email message come in at an odd hour and want to reply, but it’s ultimately more efficient to hold off and only check messages when you’re “plugged in” and ready to work. Some days this might mean we “bite our tongues” and share messages when it’s most conducive for the team, versus ourselves. This one’s still a struggle!
All in all, it’s a personal commitment to helping each other be the best humans we can be.
I maintain a “regular” work schedule as much as possible and go to my home office much like I would otherwise. My family knows not to disturb me if they come home while I’m working, but they also know I have the flexibility to adjust my schedule and be there for them when needed.
This has been, and I believe always will be, a constant evolution for me.
Having a home office that I can walk away from at the end of my day is key. I don’t use my home office for anything else. So when I’m done working for the day, I close the doors and go on with my personal life.
I know other people that have different personal and work computers to aid in this balance. Others have multiple user accounts on the same computer to accomplish the separation.
I also fully use my vacation days. While I keep a couple vacation days as buffer for the unexpected time I need off, I take days off here and there for various reasons. Vacations, holidays, and sick days are normal, but other times I take a day off for no other reason than just to enjoy a three-day weekend.
I’ve now been working remotely for eight years, and I strongly believe that maintaining a work/life balance is rooted in self-discipline. Without it, burnout is easy to achieve, and it’s vital for anyone working remotely to discover where their own balance is and constantly work to maintain it.
I’m currently living, working and traveling as a digital nomad with my wife. I’ve never been more productive, creative and satisfied in everything I do thanks to this lifestyle.
The key is working in 3-hour shifts throughout the day, which is incredibly liberating compared to the traditional, grinding 8-hours-straight day. It allows you to eat better, stay fit, see and do new things during the day, and more. It’s also a benefit for work as it allows you to meet a lot more people who can inspire your business (or even become a customer) than you would cooped up in an office.