WORKING from home might not be ideal for everyone, but I can safely say that leaving full-time employment was one of the best decisions of my life. I don’t earn as much as I used to and I no longer receive a regular income, but the time I get to spend with my family (and the ability to travel when I want to) is priceless.

I’m not here to push you to leave your job, but what I have benefited from it is having a very healthy work-life balance. Here are some ideas on achieving as much of a balance as possible.

Don’t be defined by your job

Remember that your job is not your life, unless that’s what you want. There is no need to stay in the office until late night if you have completed your assignments or tasks for the day, and be wary of being influenced by bosses or colleagues who stay in the office just because the only friends they have are the ones they work with. Nobody ever said “I wish I had stayed longer in the office” in their old age.

Disconnect

Consciously set aside time for people and things that are special to you. If that means making a rule to not check work emails on public holidays and weekends, then so be it. If you can spend five days working, surely you can spend two days not working. If, however, your job requires you to be contactable 24/7…well, I can’t do anything about that.

Take regular breaks

By regular, I mean every two weeks or so. They don’t have to be trips to foreign or faraway destinations, a simple road trip to Penang or a flight to Kota Kinabalu or Kuching will do. The idea is to get away every now and then, either by yourself or with those who matter most to you.

Stick to your priorities

Every office and organisation has them: the hard worker who does not mind being recalled on weekends or public holidays. They’re probably nice people and deep inside very proud of how hardworking they are, which is a good thing, but if you’re not willing to lose out on your free time, then that’s a good thing as well. There is nothing wrong with not wanting your work to cut into your weekends, so don’t allow your superiors or colleagues to make you feel bad for setting your own priorities.

Do something that you love, every week

Everyone has interests outside of work. For me, it’s watching movies and going hiking. For just one day a week, do something that makes you happy, whatever it is. Whether it’s rock-climbing, watching senseless B-grade movies, taking a foodie road trip or going out to buy the latest graphic novel, just do it. It’s easier to do this if you have a family, but if you’re single, you have to push yourself to get out of your house.

Catch your sunsets

A friend of mine used to work as a banker in her younger days. She did not mind spending long hours in the office, coming in soon after sunrise and leaving long after sundown. One day through a stroke of luck, she managed to leave the office early and on her way home saw something she had not seen for years from working in the city: a beautiful sunset.

That was the defining moment for her. She realised that she had missed out on so many sunsets, and from that day on decided to catch sunsets every day for the rest of her life. Whether it’s a sunset, a sunrise or going home early enough to hear your baby laugh, set aside the time for something special every day.

Simplify your life

Someone once said this: The best things in life aren’t things, and it took me a long time to realise how true this is. The best things in life are the people who matter to you, your time with them and the memories that you gather in your living years.

Stop adding to your collection of material possessions — expensive items that serve no purpose other than to make you feel good about yourself or to impress others (let’s be honest here). Your memories and adventures are the real things that will stay with you. Take those trips and holidays while you can.

Like I said, leaving a nine-to-five job and working from home is not for everyone, but what is important is to get a more balanced life. The way to do this is to see beyond your work desk.

Anis Ibrahim
Anis Ibrahim

*Anis Ibrahim also writes at Five Foot Traveller.

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