Trying to artificially separate work and life is where many people go wrong, especially those people who are working remotely for the first time.
Even if you are in the most mundane, awful job in the world, it is part of what makes up your life. As part of your work, you inevitably have social interactions (even if it’s only on email), you experience highs and lows, and you set and work towards goals.
The downside to working from home is that it can be a black hole of time. You can sometimes have less time for everything you care about than when you worked in a 9-5 office.
Of course, when people talk about work-life balance, what they actually mean is work-family balance, work-social balance, work-Netflix binge balance (or something like that).
It means something different to everyone, but for most people it probably means that your occupation should not be at the expense of more enjoyable or fulfilling parts of your life.
Shaun Hughston is the Founder of Typhon Consulting, a company specialising in web development and app automation. Shaun works remotely from home or anywhere he has decent Internet.
We caught up with Shaun to talk about how he integrates work and life to create balance.
“Let me start by saying this: Work is part of life. When I first started working from home, I tried very hard to achieve a work-life balance, by creating fences around my work time. I would start at a certain time, and finish at a certain time, and have my lunch break. I would avoid work email after hours and on weekends. I think this is better described as work-life separation,” explains Shaun.
“But what I have learnt in recent years, is that this doesn’t work for me. I have a family, I have interests outside of my work, but I am also able to use my time flexibly. And therein lies the key – flexibility,” he says.
“What I believe in now is not work-life balance, but work-life integration. That is, work is an inexorable force in my life, and I just go with the flow. That way, I have better control of what I do, when. There are twenty-four hours in the day, after all.”
Here are a few things Shaun does to achieve work-life integration:
- Check emails early in the morning and late at night
- Screen calls after hours, but answer important ones
- Be goals driven rather than time focussed
- Use cloud-based technology to access what I need anywhere
- Invest in hardware that makes life easier (smartphone, tablet, ultrabook)
- Use your flexible time to enjoy moments with friends and family outside of weekends
- Go to the gym, and do your chores and shopping at times when there are less people out and about (like mid-morning)
So, if you’re considering a remote, stay-at-home job, think about how you would approach making it a part of your life. As they say, the tree that bends in the wind doesn’t break – so be flexible!