Maintaining a healthy balance between work and home

March 25, 2021

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As more of us continue to work remotely during the pandemic, the CSI-Connect community forum members were asked, “What are some of your top tips for maintaining a healthy balance between your work productivity and home life?”

Here are some of the replies. You can read all them—and add your voice to the conversation—at[2].

Philip Kabza, RA, FCSI, CCS, CDT, AIA, SCIP

I have been working from a home office for more than
15 years, and have a few habits that might help:

  1. Keep work area as physically separate from the rest of the household as possible, for many reasons.
  2. Dogs and kids are welcome; I love this about our client meetings now. We are all human!
  3. Dress as if you are at office when working. In this age of Zoom, keep up a professional appearance—hair, attire, and backdrop.
  4. Keep regular hours when possible, and track your time.
  5. Keep Facebook off your work computer.
  6. Maintain a compelling hobby or two; there is more to life than work.
  7. One more thing: The refrigerator is not your friend!

Valarie Harris, FCSI, CCPR, CDT

I agree that keeping work and home life somewhat separated is a good thing, but the flexibility to change it up to meet deadlines or participate in family gatherings is great.

I have a dedicated office space and separate phones and computers for work and personal use. Maintaining a distinction between the two (home and work) helps me. I do combine them in my daily planning, but have two calendars, one on each phone, which I combine in my bullet journal weekly/daily.

Make time to work out or exercise. Sitting too long is terrible on your body. I have a 60-minute timer on my phone that I set when I sit down. Otherwise, I will look up and two or three hours would have passed. I also schedule my workouts.

Getting dressed in the morning and changing at the end of the day helps me transition, but I do still miss my car. I normally would have driven several days a week to see architects and the commute time was helpful. However, I cannot say I miss the sometimes two-and-a half hour, 53-km (33-mi) drive in crawling traffic from downtown Los Angeles.

I got a good Bluetooth speaker for my office so I can listen to music or the news or podcasts, as appropriate, in the background. I am one of those people who need some background noise. Then, there is always the gardener blowing leaves during the most important relevant part of the Zoom meeting!

I find our Los Angeles CSI Zoom board and chapter meetings very valuable. They help me stay in touch with friends. We have added an extra Zoom meeting a month. So, I see them two to three times as month. We seem to be adapting pretty well, but some people are facing work challenges. Keeping up with friends and family is sometimes more difficult for me than getting the work done.

Reach out to people. A chat always does me good!

David Lewis, CSI, CDT, LEED AP

I have worked from a home office for over six years now, and it is sometimes hard to maintain a strict boundary between work and home. There are too many temptations of stuff to do around the house. Further, the pandemic-induced addition of family members working from home as well as a college student learning from home has complicated things and introduced a whole slew of potential distractions.

I have a dedicated office space (you would be amazed at how efficient a 6-m2 [64-sf] cubicle can be), and try to maintain a set work schedule. I also have one of those “Open/Closed-will return” signs to hang over my desk. It symbolically allows me to start and stop the workday. Also, if a family member interrupts me while working to ask about laundry, I can point at the sign.

I must note that my office cats do not respect the sign or the boundaries—I have been in several Zoom meetings when they come in and start knocking stuff off my desk to let me know they would like to be fed!

Good luck—working from home can be awesome!

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