Balancing Work and Love When You Work Remotely

work and love

Balancing work and love is tricky for anyone, no matter what your work circumstances. But there are additional hurdles and obstacles to navigate when you work remotely. If you are striving to find and maintain that balance in your own life, here are some ideas on how to do so.

Balancing Work and Love When You Work Remotely

If you’ve ever taken a Cosmopolitan quiz (don’t act like you haven’t done it) and find you focus more on your career than your love life, you aren’t necessarily in the minority. Career ambition can hinder your social life, turning even the most caring, honest, and trustworthy person into somewhat of a social pariah. Remote work gives hard-working individuals the opportunity for better work-life balance and career advancement, but even in this nontraditional work arrangement, relationships with partners, friends, and family can suffer. Like most other facets of your life, the key to balancing work and love is to find a comfortable medium between the two. Unfortunately, this is often an arduous task. But with a bit of discipline and awareness, you can continue to reach your career aspirations while enjoying experiences with the people who mean the most to you.

Keep reading for a few simple ways you can improve relationships with the ones you love, even if you don’t see each other often.

Postcards, A Convenient Way of Balancing Work and Love

Some people regard postcards as an antiquated way to stay in contact with loved ones. But this snail-mail approach is an affordable, convenient way of balancing work and love. Just a short note about where you are in the world and what you’re doing can make someone’s day. Plus, you might find that sending a postcard is far more exciting than you may have thought. In Vanuatu, for example, you can send a postcard from the edge of a volcano or at an underwater post office. As a remote worker, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend $2.

Enjoy Each Other’s Company…When You Have It

Remote workers often cite work-life balance as a perk of the job, yet some still fail to set boundaries that provide such a benefit. When work is always at your fingertips and you’re without a traditional office setting, the line between work and personal time becomes blurred. Your relationships can suffer as a result.

Because of the ambiguity of when work starts and ends, you need to set your own boundaries with respect to balancing work and love. If your partner works a 9-to-5 job, try to align your own remote work schedule with theirs. This will allow you to remain productive without neglecting your partner when they return home. For good measure, you should also try shutting off your phones and computers around 7:00-8:00 p.m. to minimize distractions and improve the quality of the time you spend together.

Schedule Regular Video Calls

Speaking to loved ones via email and direct message is a convenient, albeit impersonal, way to communicate. Yet no form of communication can outdo video calls. At the touch of a button, you can come face to face with loved ones. Balancing work and love hits its apex in such a setting, especially if you’re half a world away. The results are astounding. A survey from Microsoft shows that 96% of respondents felt closer connections to loved ones, 61% enjoyed a better love life, and 47% maintained a healthy long-distance relationship based solely on video calls.

However, just downloading a video call app isn’t enough to guarantee some meaningful conversations or playful banter with loved ones. You actually have to use it. To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your video call app, schedule a regular chat with your brother, mother, cousin, best friend, or anyone else who brings purpose or excitement to your life. Depending on your relationship with the person on the other end, a once-a-month call may suffice, while other people you may want to contact more frequently.

Make Plans to do Activities you Love After Work

When you work remotely, you can work strange hours or overtime without thinking about it. You may get mired in a noon-to-8 schedule or work 12 hours a day just because of the opportunity. Not only can this eliminate your goal of work-life balance, but it can also hinder your relationships.

One of the most effective ways to prevent this from happening is to make after-work plans just as you would with a traditional job. If you plan an activity at 7:00 p.m., you ensure that you’ve completed your tasks for the day and that you get up early enough to work a schedule that matches those of friends or loved ones. The best part is that this activity is anything you want it to be. Go to a movie. Work out. Take dance classes. Regardless of what you do, you’re making a definitive break between work and social life.

Create Balance with Your Partner

Those with career goals and lofty aspirations often have to make social concessions to reach their goals. However, these individuals need to realize the sacrifices their partner makes for them to achieve these goals. If you’re one of these individuals, remember your partner may have to take care of the kids more often, attend social events without you, or make some of the smaller decisions on their own, so you can further your career.

Conversely, you may need to make some sacrifices of your own if your partner has similar aspirations. This high-wire balancing act isn’t easy; you need open communication to ensure you’re both on the same page. While a serious conversation should help clear the air and avoid any miscommunication, know that this balance takes time. Discussing your goals as they change becomes a necessity in any healthy relationship for remote workers.

Move Toward Work-Life Integration

Work-life balance is integral to nearly all remote jobs. Without it, you’re floundering in unfamiliar territory where neither work nor social life get the attention they deserve. But if you’re struggling to structure your boundaries or discovering that balancing work and love doesn’t come naturally,  you may want to try a principle known as work-life integration.

First taught at the University of California – Berkeley’s The Haas School of Business, work-life integration is a holistic approach that rotates between different areas of work and life. Instead of working normal work hours or a set schedule, this system allows you to work when you’re feeling the most motivated or break up your workday around errands and other activities. Unlike work-life balance, work-life integration maximizes flexibility without any feelings of guilt or regret. When your loved one wants to take you on a surprise trip, you want to leave a day early for a friend’s wedding, or you just want to make sure to make a phone call to your mom, work-life integration allows and promotes it.

Take a Break 

When you work at home and have a family, you never have as much time to yourself as you anticipate. You’re often tasked with taking care of kids, bonding with your partner, or running errands. Ever so slowly, work and life become one. There are no clear boundaries. which is detrimental to both work and personal life. But nothing is more catastrophic to either part of your life.

If you’ve noticed this type of behavior or schedule in your day-to-day life, take a break. This doesn’t mean go on vacation or ignore your loved ones. It’s just a short hiatus to get yourself out of the house. Grab your laptop and head to a café or the library to get your work done. In just a few hours, you can get your tasks completed, clear your head, and refocus. Not only will this benefit you professionally, but also in balancing work and love.

Don’t Prolong Arguments

Arguments are a part of almost any relationship. While some are malicious, many are a healthy outburst that gets lingering feelings off your chest. When you work remotely, you may target your partner or they may direct arguments toward you. Often, this has no bearing on you or them as a person. It’s just venting, and it’s perfectly normal.

The problem comes when these arguments become prolonged, or when you don’t solve them as they arise. If this behavior continues, it can negatively impact your work life, especially when you don’t have an escape or an outlet. Balancing work and love necessitates that you come to a resolution with your partner, even if you have to make a few concessions. If you choose to ignore it, you’ll soon start to see your work suffer.

Accept Distractions

Whether you’re focusing on loved ones or work, you need to accept that distractions will happen. But don’t assume they’re all negative. Remote work often gives you the time to schedule a date night with impunity or enjoy your anniversary without having to dive into your PTO. Yet on another level, it allows you to enjoy spur-of-the-moment occasions such as attending a concert or going to a sporting event.

The same is true for the distractions you successfully ignore. You may want to binge-watch television with your partner, but work beckons. While there’s nothing wrong with streaming the latest Netflix series, it’s easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of your personal life. The key then becomes the ability to decipher which instances with your friends are family are ones you can’t live without and which ones you can skip. This is by no means an easy decision, but recognition is part of the battle.

Create a Schedule for Balancing Work and Love

Depending on the nature of your work, create a schedule each week. This will help you keep on task while also allocating enough time with your partner, friends, and family. When you’re working on a time-sensitive project or pushing to get something done for a client, this schedule might become null and void. But the idea remains. A proper schedule enables you to navigate the water between work and loved ones.

These steps and tips are only half the formula for balancing work and love. You’ll have setbacks and times when your career or personal life takes precedence over the other. But don’t let this affect your overall balance. By recognizing the importance of a work-life balance and how to manage it, you’ll move one step closer to solving the dichotomy of career and love.

Do you have additional advice for balancing work and loveConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us. We’d love to hear from you!

Canva Photo Credit: bernardbodo

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