Due to the pandemic, working from home has become a reality for many of us. It’s important to evaluate your home office and schedule so that they meet your needs. How you work and when you work will greatly alter how successful you are at maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Many remote workers cite a healthy work/life balance as their biggest motivation for working from home. The benefits can be far-reaching if done correctly. On other hand, failing to maintain a healthy balance can lead you to feel more stressed and out of control.

Make sure you pick the right space for your home office. You want it to be comfortable but not too comfortable. You want there to be a clear delineation between work and home. As an example, do not use your dining table or living room couch as your main perch. For some people, choosing a spot is easy. If you’ve got a spare room, look no further for the perfect office space. A basement corner would also work really well. However, not everyone has that kind of free space. When space is tight, you have to think creatively. Check out unused corners in larger rooms, a large and empty closet, or even an alcove under the stairs!

It’s important to keep a few things in mind if you have to carve out your own workspace in a large communal room. Consider who else will be using the space. Will you be sharing the space with children, your partner, roommates, or pets?

It is important to separate your space from theirs even if you reside in the same room. You can get traditional dividers that sit on the floor or you could hang a curtain from the ceiling or on a rod. Curtains are a lightweight and generally inexpensive method of “closing the door” to your office. Noise-canceling headphones, a “do not disturb” sign, or a white noise machine could also help minimize distractions. Distractions are inevitable, but the key is to minimize them and not be embarrassed when they occur. Your coworkers and clients are in a similar position so they understand. Make sure to set clear boundaries and expectations when sharing a workspace.

A desk and ergonomic chair are crucial to an ideal workspace. A hybrid desk that can go from a sitting desk to a standing one might be a good solution to fight restlessness.

Try to set up your home office in a space with lots of natural light. While poor lighting in your office won’t cause blindness, it will strain your eyes. Over time, eye strain can cause headaches, making you less productive and certainly more miserable. Natural light also boosts morale, which is always great for productivity.

Create a flexible schedule for yourself that makes time for both your professional and personal obligations, and make it known to your household. Scheduling conflicts with household members will just lead to more distractions, which will affect your productivity.

It is also important to plan for adequate storage. You don’t want to misplace important documents or have sensitive documents lying around for anyone to see. Consider getting some bookshelves and locking filing cabinets. Adequate storage will also help keep clutter at bay, which in turn improves productivity.

Setting up the right office space is not the only factor to consider. Scheduling and sustainable routines are critical to fostering a healthy work/life balance. It can be incredibly difficult to keep work-life from bleeding into your personal life or vice versa. Consistency is key. It is common to find yourself working more hours than usual when working from home. You might feel pressure to spend more time online than you would if you were in the office.

Make sure you communicate your new schedule with your co-workers. That way, they will know when you can be reached and when you can’t. You can take advantage of communication software, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, to indicate to your co-workers when you’re online or offline. You can also post your new work schedule to a shared online calendar. Software can also help you manage your workload. You don’t have to wait to schedule meetings if you use video conferencing software, like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

A great way to keep your mood up throughout the day is to include breaks in your schedule. Use personal activities or errands as opportunities to take a breather. They will become a welcome part of your routine. This will also help you accomplish your goals outside work, which will in turn improve your work/life balance. Something as simple as walking your dog for 5 or 10 minutes or having lunch in your favorite park or cafe can really improve your productivity and well-being.