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Work/life balance when working from home

Blog post | 13 Oct 2020

Many people are still working from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Finding a ‘new normal’ can be a challenge, especially if you have children to manage, as well. But with a few strategies, finding work/life balance at home needn’t be hard.

Looking after babies and small children when working from home

If your children are old enough to keep themselves occupied, try having a dedicated workspace that gives you some privacy when you are working and makes it difficult for your kids to see you. They’re more likely to interrupt you if you’re accessible.

If you have a baby or young child who can't be left unsupervised, make sure you have their favourite toys and games on hand to keep them occupied while you work.

Maintain some order and routine for your kids if they’re home from childcare or school. When they return to school, it will be easier for all of you if you still have some regular routines in place.

Talk to your partner about sharing the childcare. Work out a clear plan that is fair and reasonable for everyone. If your kids are old enough to understand, let them know who’s on ‘parenting duty’ for that day or block of time.

How do I share a workspace with my partner?

If you’re sharing a workspace with your partner or housemate, work out a plan for how you are going to share the workspace. If you need some quiet time while your partner is on the phone, one of you could move to another part of the house. Try to work out a plan each day so you know if there are any times you might need to shuffle around. Be respectful of each other’s work and clean up after yourselves – like you would in an office.

Mental health tips for working from home

Working from home can be isolating and it’s important to regularly interact with other people. Use technology – such as video apps – to catch up with others.

Boundaries are also important. At the end of the day, turn off your computer and close the door on your study or workspace. Shower or change clothes at the end of the working day, even if you’re not going anywhere. This will help you shift mentally from ‘work’ to ‘home’.

Be patient with yourself as you learn new ways of working and finding a work/life balance. Like all other skills, it can take time and practice to feel confident.

If you’re struggling, Beyond Blue offers a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service, where you can chat with someone about your mental health and wellbeing. Call on 1800 512 348 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

10 top tips for working from home

  1. Follow a routine each working day. Get up, get dressed and have the mindset that you are ‘at work’.
  2. Avoid having lots of breaks.
  3. Set timers if you’re a procrastinator. Make daily ‘to do’ lists and stick to them. It’s better to make a start than wait for the ‘perfect’ time to begin.
  4. Plan your work so you do the most difficult and challenging tasks at the start of the day.
  5. Think about the times of the day when you’re most productive and plan tasks to suit.
  6. Organise a working space that isn’t cluttered with domestic bits and pieces. You’ll also think more clearly in a separate area that’s away from the busy parts of the house – if it’s available.
  7. Make sure your bedroom is calm and relaxing. Avoid working in there – particularly from your bed. Create work, home and family boundaries, otherwise you may end up exhausted and resentful.
  8. Have a set lunchtime and avoid snacking. It can be tempting to make some lunch and go back your desk to continue working, so try sitting on the balcony or in the backyard for your lunchbreak.
  9. Have a clear start and finish time to your work day. It’s easy for home-based work to creep into personal time. Focus on work tasks when you’re working and switch off when you’re finished.
  10. Try not to do too much at once. Multi-tasking is difficult to do well and most people work best when focusing on one thing at a time. Short bursts of concentrated energy are better than hours of unproductive work at a computer, for example.

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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