How do you manage work life integration?
I shut down my computer at 5 p.m. every day.
After you’ve signed off for the day, truly SIGN OFF. It’s so easy to hop back online when your home is your office, but resist that urge. Treat your schedule as concrete as possible.
Having a separate room as an office definitely helps. I can literally close the door on my work at the end of the day and feel like I’m done. I used to have a laptop and got into a cycle of working in bed or on the sofa but that never led to my best work.
I have to admit there is a blurred line between work and life…as I love so much what I do…and somehow all is interrelated because all that I’m involved with, business and/or artistically, is related to my life and inspired by my passions and topics of interests. My business ideas and projects often start with things or services I use myself…
I keep my work in the office, so to speak. Once I come out of the home office at night, I try to disconnect as much as possible and make that time about catching up with my family after the day’s events.
They kind of blend together. I love what I do, and I get to do it while also living life. There’s no hard division, nor do I think there needs to be.
Because I am so integrated with work and life, I don’t make a tremendous distinction between the two. I love my work and I love my life. The two compliment each other, rather than be at odds with one another.
I try to spend most of my working hours on things I actually enjoy doing, and I also get a lot of variety, so I don’t usually mind the fact that work spills over into my private life—which it definitely does. I can’t leave work behind in the afternoon like most people can, but I’m mostly okay with that. It does get in the way of other things sometimes, though, and I could probably get better at “switching off.”
As a business owner—whether that be remote or traditional—your work and life boundaries become blurred. I’ve long stopped thinking in terms of 9-5 as the only time to think about work. As a travel writer I’m always looking for photo and story opportunities, so work and life are one and the same.
I try not to work too many hours, and when I have free time, if I need to do something, I just do. I might pop to the store at 11 a.m. if I have no calls, or get a haircut at 4 p.m. I am just as likely to be still working at 8 p.m.
That’s the trickiest part. I’m lucky that I have an office with a door. When I first started freelancing, I worked in an alcove in the living room in our old apartment. It was a separate space, but way too close to the TV and fridge. Being able to keep my work and life physically separate has been a big help.
I start working earlier so that I can pick my kids up from school and daycare before 4:00 p.m. and block off time on my work calendar when I have personal obligations. If something comes up that I’d like to do: a day at the zoo with the kids or a short family vacation, I let my team know and put it on my work calendar so that I can set expectations that I’ll be unavailable for a large block of time. I check email throughout the day (I can’t help it!) and sometimes I’ll work at night if there’s something I feel I need to finish up. Even though I have dedicated work time during the day, I know that there are times that I may be doing laundry or running to the grocery store for dinner ingredients and it’s okay for my work time and personal time to overlap and get a bit muddled. Working remotely means your life is more fluid. You don’t have to integrate your work with the rest of your life; you just have to be open to the possibility that you can have it all.
I definitely struggle with what to do to rejuvenate me, given that what I do for a living is also what most people do for fun (travel/food). I have had to work on creating routines that I can overlay on my life, regardless of where I am to try and delineate between work and play, else it all bleeds into one. I think this is a common problem for all entrepreneurs, not just remote workers.
There needs to be intentional separation or the line between work/life is blurred. Even with the one laptop I use, I have a browser for work and a browser for personal. There is no overlap. That said, there have been times when something at work took priority and I took care of it. And vice versa.
I can work a lot, so I need to be very conscious of a turn off time every day. That means staying away from my computer and phone once I’m done work for the day. Working alongside my partner helps as well, because one of us can say, “Hey, let’s take a break and go for a walk or a bike ride.”
I find if I schedule yoga classes at the beginning of the week, and I know I have a class to get to by 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. then I’ll leave the house and I won’t come back to work after. It helps that yoga is a five-minute walk and by the ocean where I can hear the waves. Similarly, when I’m on the road, I look for local yoga studios, or a new restaurant or band to check out, so my day is nicely broken up.
This has been a huge challenge for me, but I’m finally in a place where having a productive day means more than work. It means having time for myself or time with my partner like sitting by the ocean for 30 minutes, reading a good book, or working on a passion project like my Etsy shop.
I’ve learned to let things go a bit. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a great thought about work at the end of the day when the kids start to come home. I’ve learned that once the kids come home they must be the priority; otherwise, I just get frustrated that I can’t keep working. On the flip side, I’ve let the housework go more because when the kids are gone my work has to be my priority. The laundry can always wait.
The lines between work and life are incredibly blurred for us, which has its pros and cons. It can be difficult to peel out time for relaxing when there is always a project waiting to be completed.
Honestly, they’re pretty integrated. Some of my coworkers are good friends!
It’s definitely a revolving process. It can be tough to take the freelancer hat off, especially if you have clients on different continents. At 5 p.m. each day I stop responding to emails for the day (unless it’s time sensitive) to give myself some sort of separation.
I’m good about turning work off at the end of the day. I don’t allow push messages to come to my phone, so if someone is sending me emails at 11 p.m., I won’t know until the next morning.
I don’t give it any thought but, from the early 90s until about 5-6 years ago, I worked some pretty long hours and have no desire to go back to that. The 32-hour European week is more my speed these days.