This is the first of a four-part series on finding success through building your career online.
The idea of working from home is so deliciously attractive because it gives the impression that life turns into a box of chocolates. Where work comes secondary to every other thing you’d rather be doing at home, like attempting to beat your personal best at a Lord of the Rings marathon. But this, unfortunately, is very wrong. What is true however, is that working from home allows you to create a work-life balance that is more enjoyable, rewarding and uniquely suited to you.
A typical work-life balance exists as a fleeting concept that takes place between a 9-5 job and the 1.5 hours each evening you spend not eating/bathing/brushing your teeth. In this context, almost any alternative sounds more attractive. Yet working from home presents a different set of challenges entirely. Instead of having too little time for your personal life, you may end up with too much freedom to deal with work effectively. You see, without the watchful gaze of an eager employer prodding you to be more productive from time to time, you are left to manage your priorities, alone.
The question then becomes, how do I architect a life in which my personal interests and commitments can be balanced with my work and other responsibilities?
We asked existing VIPKid teachers how they put the idealistic murmurings of work-life balance into concrete practice. We found that over 70% of them are firm believers in setting strict boundaries to ensure a healthy balance. Things like no spontaneous vacations until you’ve taught at least 30 classes this month. Or not diving into your latest Netflix binge for the evening until the day’s responsibilities are neatly wrapped up.
Boundaries are extremely useful not only for online teaching, but for any type of work that occurs remotely or in your own time. We (as in humans) are notoriously good at bowing to the wishes of the Procrastination Monkey, so creating solid and well-defined rules of engagement go a long way in creating a healthy work-life balance. When creating a routine that works for you, here are some good pointers to keep in mind:
Make time for your loved ones
And if that includes your golden retriever, so be it. Working from home means your relationship with your family or loved ones can change a lot. You may be dad at one moment, and a hair-pulling, deadline-chasing editor in the next. What’s important to remember is creating the separation between work time and family/friends time. Maybe a certain time of day is dedicated solely to family time with no disruptions, or vice versa. Stephen King famously shuts his study door when he needs to write, and when the door is closed, everyone knows to steer clear.
Establish a routine and stick to it
Working online or remotely requires discipline in order to consistently produce high quality work on a timely basis. If you work best in the mornings, make sure you dedicate that time to your professional duties. Without routine you will constantly find yourself juggling responsibilities. Like if you’ve left a deadline too late and now have to choose between Monica’s birthday and getting paid (looks like Monica is getting an email this year). A steady routine makes life easier and lets your body and mind fall into a pattern. While you may despise mere mention of the word “routine”, remember the key is that it’s a routine of your choosing, that works for you!
Know your limits!
So you’ve suddenly realized that every additional hour you work nets you a little more towards that new sofa you’re saving for? Piling on the hours is all fine and well, but nothing will set you back like a burnout on day 3. Instead of going all-in and scaling back when you think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, try starting slow and gradually increasing your capacity until you’re comfortable. Understanding your limits means you’ll feel less stressed, and are able to produce high quality work with a higher degree of happiness.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of down time. There is a reason you have chosen to start working from home, and part of it is probably to break free from the all consuming nature of a 9-5 job. So make sure you remember that from time to time, and if you’re feeling a little worn down, it might be time to consider a day in the spa!
To learn more on this topic, download our free eBook: Finding Success and Happiness Through Remote Work.