Working 9 to 5: How to Balance Personal and Professional Responsibilities

Top view of a man working on his laptop.

When was the last time you worked at the office? Has it been days, months, or even years?

Same here. Honestly, we’re not even sure if we have an office.

Remote work is becoming more and more normal, and don’t get us wrong — we’re totally here for it. Working from home opens doors to more flexibility in our schedules, saves us from the grueling morning commute, and makes it possible to work in our PJs — if there isn’t a Zoom call that requires the ever so stylish “office mullet.”

But working from home isn’t always sweatpants and siestas, and it can get hectic if we let it. Our homes used to be a place to get away from work — a place where we could rest, cook food, and relax.

Those ~my home is my sanctuary~ vibes fade a bit, and the lines between home life and work life are blurred when you work remotely.

Like we said a second ago, we love remote work at DotConnect. It’s how we’ve run since the beginning, and it’s the reason we can have “Dot Connecters” across the globe. So, it’s safe to say that we’ve gone through the struggles of learning how to find that work-life balance when both work and life happen where we live.

If you’re in that challenging stage where you don’t know how to strike that balance between your “home office” and your home, stick around. We’re going to dive into some simple fixes you can make to help you find your balance and avoid burnout while working remotely.

Designate a Workspace

Don’t try to work in bed with a lap desk. It may sound like bliss, but it only makes work much harder.

One of the most common mistakes people make when working remotely is that they don’t designate a dedicated area for their work.

Find a Spot That Works for You

We’re not saying that someone needs to be evicted from their bedroom so you can have a dedicated room for your office — having an entire room is definitely a positive, though. However, you do need to section off an area as your workspace.

It could just be a desk in the corner of your bedroom that still looks presentable on Zoom calls or part of the living room that doesn’t get used all the time. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where it is in the house. What matters is that it’s relatively quiet and that you can tell yourself, “This is where I work,” as you sit down to start your day.

After you’ve picked out your space, set it up for success. Gather everything — and we mean everything — you may possibly need for work and put it in your work area. That includes your computer, charging cables, a notebook, pens, water bottle, noise-canceling headphones, etc.

Only Work in Your Designated Area

Once you’ve collected everything you need and arranged it in an easy-to-use way, it’s time to get working.

Now, here’s the tricky part. When you are in your workspace, you’re working, but when you step away from that area, do not work. Don’t check your work email, look at workflow software notifications, or respond to Slack messages anywhere else in your home.

That way, you keep work in your workspace and your personal life in the rest of your home.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Now that you’ve set up a stellar workspace, it’s time to talk about time.

We know that everyone doesn’t have that inner clock that keeps them on track throughout the day as they accomplish all their goals. If you are one of those people who does, consider yourself lucky.

For the rest of us, there are a couple of things we can do to keep remote work from turning into a time management monster.

Set Your Schedule

The best place to start is by clearly defining your work hours. Yes, we know that having a flexible schedule is a perk of working remotely, but without some structure, “flexibility” will start to mean “all of the time.”

A set schedule lets you create a clear divide between your work life and personal life, but there’s one important detail you need to keep in mind as you implement your schedule — you need to stick with it!

If you told yourself that work ends by 5 PM, that means work ends by 5 PM. It doesn’t matter if you’re “almost finished” with something or only have three more tasks before completing a project. They can wait until tomorrow — within reason, of course.

Organize Your Work

Once you’ve set your schedule, it’s time to tackle how you’ll fit your work inside of that schedule.

We highly recommend using the Pomodoro Technique — it’s worked wonders for us at Dot! This time management system works by dividing your work by the amount of effort it takes, including breaks to help you minimize distractions while working and accomplish your goals on time.

Once you’ve established your system for keeping your daily work on track, you’ll find that you accomplish things more efficiently, enjoy work more, and experience increased freedom throughout your day. That sounds like a win-win-win to us!

Boost Your Communication

We say it all the time here, but we’re going to say it again: Communication is key.

If you want to achieve success while working remotely, you need to find ways to communicate clearly with everyone involved in your life — both the people you work with and the people you live with.

If you can’t clearly communicate your needs while working from home, you will experience more roadblocks to balancing work and life.

Overcommunicate With Your Colleagues

You can’t just walk over to your coworkers’ desks when working remotely, and that means you need to get creative with how you communicate with your colleagues.

You don’t need to constantly bombard them with a never-ending stream of Slack messages, but you need to get your point across clearly and efficiently. If it takes sending a second message to make yourself clear, go for it!

We highly recommend including more than text when you’re trying to get clarification on something. Take a screenshot, draw a circle around what you need help with, and send that with your messages. It will help provide context and make getting everyone on the same page easier.

Set Clear Boundaries With Your Family

Setting boundaries may seem challenging at first, but once you’ve established clear rules surrounding your work, you’ll find that working remotely will be better.

Some examples of setting healthy boundaries include: letting your partner know that you need extra support with household chores or telling your kids that you’re unavailable to break away when you’re in your work area. Remember, just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can handle everything at home.

The more transparent you are when communicating what you need while working, the more successful you will be while conducting business at home.

Prioritize Your Mental Health

You can’t pour from an empty glass.

We know that’s a common expression that you hear all of the time, but that’s because there is significant truth within this saying. You need to have a full glass to be effective at work and home.

When you let your work and personal lives pull you in different directions throughout the day, you’re pouring a little more from your glass each time you do something. If you’re not careful, you’ll run out before you know it.

To keep your glass full while working from home, you need to prioritize your mental health.

Step Away From the Keyboard

We repeat, step away from the keyboard.

It can be compelling to work all the time while working from home, but you know better. There’s a reason you just set a schedule for yourself and blocked off time for breaks throughout the day — it’s so you can recharge throughout the day.

Turn off your screen, stand up from your desk, and walk away from your workspace when break time comes. Allow yourself to go for a walk, spend some time meditating on things outside of work, or dance around the room for a bit.

It doesn’t matter what recharges your batteries throughout the day — what matters is that you do it.

Set Aside Time for Yourself

Creating time blocks for your mental health throughout your workday is only half of what you need to fill your glass after emptying it. You also need to set time aside for yourself before and after work.

In the morning, create a routine that sets you up for success. That looks different for everyone, but we really like to journal, practice our breathwork, or spend time reading during our morning routines. Whatever works for you, do it. That way, you can reach a full charge before starting your day.

After work, don’t go straight into handling chores, cooking dinner, and helping your children finish their homework. Give yourself some time to decompress. Reflect on the day, prepare yourself for the transition from work to your personal life, and get ready to enjoy the time you have with your family after work.

Set Yourself Up for Success With DotConnect

Working from home can be more complex than it seems on paper, but you can handle it. Be sure to set clear boundaries and make time for yourself along the way. With the right balance of preparation and execution, you will have a successful routine in no time!

At DotConnect, we build relationships that make it possible for people to find their dream jobs, and part of that process is setting them up for success once they land the role. If you’re ready to work with a skilled team of talent advisors who care about your well-being and want to help you succeed, get in touch with us.

We’ve helped companies like Beautycounter, Samsung NEXT, and Zendesk find exceptional talent and build stronger teams, and we couldn’t have done it without exceptional humans like you.

Also, if you’re a team leader who wants to work with a talent advisory company dedicated to your team’s success, reach out to us. We have the tools you need to make a more significant impact with your hiring process!