File this news under: how to make the case to your boss that you should work from home more often. Turns out those who don’t have to trudge through a morning commute and humor water-cooler talk can get more done throughout the day — or at least they feel like they do.
That’s according to research from the University of Cardiff, which found that while 69% of in-office workers said they put in more effort than required of their jobs, 73% of remote workers said they did the same. The study also found that those who work from home have higher job satisfaction. That said, the benefits come at a price: Work-from-home employees reported putting in more overtime (39%) than their in-office counterparts (24%).
If working from home is supposed to promote better work-life balance, why are remote workers clocking in more hours? Ironically, the lack of physical boundaries between work and life could be to blame. After all, when your commute is the 10 seconds it takes to move from the bedroom to the living room, you may decide to stay online for another 30 minutes to make up for it. You might also feel the need to prove your work-from-home arrangement makes you more productive, leading you to log more hours to go above-and-beyond your normal output from the office.
So whether you’re working from home full-time or just a few days a month, consider these work-life balance tips that can help you get more done throughout the day — and log off at a reasonable hour.
Mimic a Regular Work Day — to an Extent
One of the best things about working from home is not having to wake up as early, make yourself look presentable and take the time to commute into work. So why do any of these things when you don’t have to? Simply put, studies have shown employees who dress the part in turn act the part. Similarly, mimicking some of your regular routine — throwing on a bit of makeup, taking a walk around the block during the time you’d normally drive in — can help you get in the right headspace before settling down with your laptop for the day.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
“A separate workspace makes it easier to set boundaries between your home and office [lives],” says Lisa Kanarek, a home office expert. Moving from the couch to a desk can also put you in the mindset to get work done, instead of feeling like you can fire up your Apple TV while you file reports.
Most people can only work for about 90 minutes at a time before their productive energy levels begin dropping, says productivity strategist Cathy Sexton. Put time on your calendar or set an alarm for 10- to 15-minute breaks throughout the day. While this is a good idea even when you’re in the office, an extra reminder at home may be necessary when you don’t have the usual workday distractions like chatting with a coworker, checking out the kitchen snacks or stepping out for lunch.
Stick to a Hard Stop
What’s another 30 minutes finishing up a presentation when you don’t have to beat rush hour? That 30 minutes can quickly become hours if you don’t give yourself a hard stop the way you would at an office. Set an “end time” as a calendar reminder, let your colleagues know (a little peer pressure goes a long way), log off email and — maybe best of all — change back into your “home” clothes to recreate the feeling that you’re finally done for the day.