When surveyed, workers say the #1 perk that attracts them to remote working is the ability to have a flexible schedule. Unfortunately, this newfound flexibility often brings new pressures, like feeling obligated to work harder than you did in the office or respond to non-urgent messages from your team members after you’ve finished your work day.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone — researchers have found both of these to be true for most remote workers.
It’s unsurprising, then, that 45% of workers say they are burned out when working from home, (some surveys estimate as high as 84%!) due to a lack of work-life balance.
There are certain steps employers should take to address remote work burnout within their organization, but there are plenty of strategies you can try out yourself if you’re struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance — we’ll list 50 of them below.
Why work-life balance matters:
Studies show that long or stressful jobs contribute to poor health outcomes — like strokes, heart attacks and mental health issues, whereas jobs with a 35-40 hour (max) schedule help to preserve your health.
Workers with a good work-life balance have been found to be happier and less stressed, which helps you to be more motivated and productive when you are at work. It’s a win-win for you and your employer!
Build your willpower.
Willpower is our ability to resist temptation. Without it, you’ll struggle to resist the very real temptation of checking a Slack update in the middle of a family dinner.
Build yours by starting with the basics (e.g., routinely making your bed or eating a healthy lunch).
Multi-tasking drastically reduces productivity (making you work extra hours to complete your work,) so don’t let distractions from home (like laundry) bleed into project time.
But feel free to address any necessary tasks during a break!
Learn to set boundaries (& stick to them).
Willpower can deplete, but boundaries can help you stay on track.
Set a hard time to end your work day and turn off notifications. Define your boundaries with your team to avoid defaulting to a culture of 24/7 communication and stress.
Don’t forget to socialize.
If you’re someone who needs social time to recharge your batteries, be sure to prioritize it!
A lack of social interaction can harm your mental and physical health (which also impacts your work!) so don’t feel guilty for making space for it.
It can be tricky to tell when your colleague is swamped with work when you’re working remotely.
Be considerate and only send the messages that need to be sent, and don’t expect an immediate response for every message.
Have a grounding morning ritual.
Before working remotely you likely had a (hectic) morning routine. Now, you can use that time to craft a fun ritual that gets you energized.
Pick an activity you love (meditation, exercise, reading) and schedule it as non-negotiable ‘me’ time each morning.
Have a fun end-of-day ritual.
Work can easily bleed into your personal life with no evening commute, but having an end-of work ritual can help separate the two.
Start with the obvious: check your calendar for tomorrow and turn off your laptop. Then, do something fun to celebrate all you’ve achieved like an outdoor walk or watching a few minutes of your favorite comedian.
Schedule errands and activities throughout the day.
It’s not uncommon to feel isolated and even depressed when working remotely. If you find that happening, try scheduling in some productive breaks.
This will do wonders for your morale and productivity.
Set weekly + daily goals.
Factoring in upcoming deadlines, take some time to set specific, achievable goals for yourself.
Make sure your goals are as realistic as possible — this will help you stick to them in the long run. Remember to celebrate each time you achieve one!
Blocking out time for specific projects is a helpful tool to keep you on-task.
But it’s even more crucial when working from home because your days start to all look the same, and it’s easy to get pulled into a rabbit hole of Slack messages without getting any real work done!
Set specific working hours.
It’s easy to lose track of time when working from home, and many people end up working extra hours when they first go remote.
Setting office hours will help you avoid distractions during the day and your team members will know when to reach you.
Use tools to publicize your schedule.
Once you’ve set your schedule with your team, set your Slack availability so you don’t receive notifications outside of those hours.
You can even set your hours on Google Calendar to automatically decline event invitations in off-hours.
Schedule in breaks between draining tasks.
Without a water-cooler and coffee breaks with colleagues, it’s easy to forget to take actual breaks during the day!
Taking breaks helps lower stress levels and improves productivity (especially when taken in-between tasks you find draining!) so schedule them in your calendar if you find yourself forgetting to take them.
Learn when to say ‘no’.
This can be hard if you struggle with assertiveness or are afraid to offend a team member.
But saying ‘yes’ to everything can lead to burnout and failure to achieve your own goals, so learning to say ‘no’ when you need to is a critical skill.
Avoid checking email after work.
Checking emails after work can make it feel like you’re always working and is a common cause of lack of work-life balance.
There’s rarely an email that can’t wait until the next day — just make sure your colleagues can call you in case of a true emergency.
Make ‘happy hour’ a daily occurrence.
Staying disciplined about your personal life isn’t easy, but it can help you maintain your wellbeing and sanity.
Make your own version of a ‘happy hour’ that involves chatting with friends, relaxing or reading. Then, commit to that hour as you would to a meeting!
Create your ideal workspace.
Having a workspace that is tailored to your unique working style can help you turn work-life balance from a pipe dream into reality.
Forget making it ‘Instagrammable’ — just deck it out with whatever gets you excited to work!
Go for a walk.
Even a quick, 5-minute walk outdoors can help give you a boost of energy and a dose of Vitamin D.
Sitting all day can make you feel drowsy (and it’s a real health hazard!) so give yourself permission to prioritize this.
Be kind to yourself.
This is easy to forget, but is crucial to your wellbeing! Prioritizing yourself will help you be a better team member, partner and parent.
To do this try scheduling time each day to unwind, unplug and connect with love ones.
Set boundaries with family.
Working remotely will rarely go smoothly if you don’t set clear expectations with family or roommates.
Let them know what “at work” looks like so they know when not to disturb you. They can also help by calling you out if they see you slacking off!
Don’t sign-on when you wake up.
Give yourself 30-60 minutes before you sign-on to chat with your team.
Once you’re ‘online’ it’s hard to stop the barrage of messages, so taking time to get fired up for the day before getting inundated with work can do wonders for your wellbeing.
Take a (fun) lunch break.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to slip into the habit of eating lunch while working (especially if you’re working from home alone).
Close your laptop and make lunch a fun time — eat outside, read a book or watch your favorite show.
Leave your workspace when you’re done with work.
With no evening commute it’s tempting to keep sitting in the same spot, which makes it easy for work to creep into your personal life.
Set an end-of-day alarm that signals it’s time to leave the ‘office’ and get out of your chair, walk around the block and come ‘home’.
Make after-work plans.
Even with a schedule, it’s easy to get caught up and work extra hours. Over time this can lead to burnout and decreased creativity.
Making fun plans to see friends, do yoga or just have personal time can help you remember to log off on-time.
Start your day the same as you normally would.
Rather than hitting the snooze button 10 times, try to stick to a similar routine as you would if you were going to the office.
At the very least, a quick shower and breakfast before you start your workday will help mentally prepare you for a productive day.
Communicate your needs.
It’s difficult to pick up on stress when working remotely, so be sure to openly communicate your needs.
This might feel uncomfortable at first, but your team will appreciate it. Remember, your needs can’t be met if no one knows what they are!
Don’t cancel meetings.
Video calls can be just as productive as in-person meetings.
In fact, many companies recently reported that virtual meetings are even more productive, so don’t be tempted to wait until you are in the office to meet with someone. And they can be a nice way to break up the monotony of working alone!
Don’t be embarrassed about interruptions.
Dogs, kids or shirtless husbands will eventually make an entrance on a video call…no matter what you do.
Just laugh it off — don’t get stressed or embarrassed about it! Chances are, it will be the highlight of the day for everyone involved.
Use your lunch hour for self-care.
Most remote workers say the #1 WFH perk that attracts them to remote work is the freedom to schedule your day as you please.
So when you really need a pick-me-up, use part of your lunch hour for yoga, a call with a friend or any other self-care activity you find nurturing.
Make your workspace a ‘work-only’ zone.
Even if you don’t have an extra room to use as your office, there are ways to make your workstation into a work-only zone.
Try installing a fold-out desk into the corner of the room, or buy a proper desk chair that you only use when ‘at work’.
Learn to ‘switch off’.
Set an alarm for when your workday is over, and when it’s done, turn off your laptop, turn off your notifications and clear up your workspace.
This could be tricky at first, but remember, you can’t achieve the work life balance you’re after if you’re ‘always on’.
Start your day with a to-do list.
Carve out a few minutes to make a to-do list each morning.
Realistically try to estimate how long each task will take. This way you can proactively rearrange or delegate, rather than trying to plow your way through everything and working until 10pm.
Have something to look forward to.
Planning an evening activity you really enjoy will give you an extra boost of motivation to stay on-track with your work throughout the day. If you don’t have time each day, at least plan something exciting for the upcoming weekend!
Some ideas include: an exciting hobby, a great book, cooking a new recipe, a meetup with friends.
Go home on time.
The trick here is to judge your productivity by results, not hours.
Studies show that workers are typically only productive ~3 hrs/day. So start tracking your output, and you’ll find you can achieve as much going home ‘on time’ as you would in a 12hr day.
Ditch your perfectionism.
Sometimes you’ll struggle to find the perfect work life balance (especially if you’re new to remote work), and that’s okay.
Be realistic about your circumstances, and don’t give yourself the added stress of trying to get it ‘perfect’ all the time.
A little organization can make a huge difference when you’re chasing work-life balance.
If you’re flying blindly it’s easy to inadvertantly work extra hours, so find a set of tools you like (Google calendar, Trello, etc.) to plan out your day and help keep you on track.
Limit non-essential activities.
Learn to stay hyper-focused on your goals during work hours, and if a task doesn’t align with those goals, remove it from your to-list.
Limiting unnecessary projects or calls will improve your focus on important tasks, so you can get better results and stop spreading yourself too thin.
Don’t mix work and play.
It’s tempting to watch a quick Youtube video while WFH, but don’t.
Indulging in entertainment during work hours destroy your productivity and makes it harder to enforce a work-life boundary. Try an app like StayFocused to stay on track.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Everyone makes mistakes, and you might find yourself making more of them while you’re adjusting to your new remote work routine.
If this happens, don’t be too hard on yourself! Just know there’s a learning curve and you’ll find your groove soon.
Learn what makes your team mates ‘tick’.
Sometimes even your best attempts to schedule your day will get derailed due to miscommunication or someone taking forever to finish their part of a project.
By learning what motivates your team, all aspects of collaboration will go more smoothly, allowing you to get more done in less time.
Figure out what projects energize you.
Being ‘good at’ something and feeling energized by it don’t always come hand-in-hand.
Use a tool like F4S to hone in on what gets you jazzed up and ask your team if you can do more of that. Then, watch your productivity and enjoyment of work skyrocket.
More than just buzzwords, meditation and mindfulness are proven to reduce stress, increase productivity and help you achieve goals.
If you struggle to commit to a regular practice, use apps like Calm or Headspace to remind you when it’s time to meditate.
Learn how to prioritize.
This can be a tricky beast, especially for detail-oriented people! But learning to prioritize effectively is a key skill to learn if you want to achieve work-life balance.
Try working with a coach (like F4S’ AI-powered Coach Marlee) to improve this skill.
Tell your team how you prefer to communicate.
Some people are motivated by working alone and love written communication. If that’s you, congrats! Remote working is probably a dream for you.
But others may feel energized by group environments and prefer verbal communication. Whatever your preference, let your team know! Working in a style that’s not ‘you’ for too long could be draining and make you feel sluggish.
Working from home often means you have everything you need at your fingertips, which could mean you get up from your chair less than you normally would.
This has devastating consequences for your health, but it can also make you feel tired! Try scheduling in a quick 10-min stretch (or dance!) every few hours.
Don’t use the same laptop for work and play.
Most of us can’t afford separate laptops for work and play, but if your company offers you a workstation budget, take advantage of it!
Having a different laptop for ‘work’ time and ‘play’ time can be an extra tool to help you separate the two.
Schedule white space.
To feel less stressed, schedule in some empty space between meetings or projects to ground yourself.
Many calendar tools have settings to automatically schedule meetings with a 5+ minute buffer time between them, or just proactively block out space in your own schedule. Remember, the mind needs some un-scheduled white space to be creative!
Experiment and track.
When you first start working remotely you might not know what works for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment and track your results!
You can use a combination of time-tracking and project management tools, or just good old-fashioned journaling, but the trick is to stay flexible and open to finding your own personal balance.
Embrace the ‘ebbs’ and ‘flows’ of productivity.
Once you start tracking your productivity you’ll likely find that your energy naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of!
(No human being is 100% productive, 100% of the time.)
You’ll find that some creative tasks are better done when you’re in ‘flow’ and some other mindless tasks are better accomplished when your energy is ebbing. The key is to recognize your typical energy patterns, and schedule your day around them.
Decide what work-life balance means to you.
Don’t feel boxed-in by any of these tips and feel free to experiment until you find what works for your unique working style and circumstances.
For many, work-life separation is the gold standard for mental health, but if you’re a parent you might require a work-life blend so you can pick your kids up from school.
The best thing about remote work is having the freedom to choose what works best for you!