The sun starts to stream into my bedroom, peeking through my curtains while spilling over my face, telling me that a new day has arrived.

At first, I am annoyed that my eye mask didn’t quite do it’s job by blocking out the daylight as I adjust it in place and roll over.

I’ve never claimed to be much of a morning person but knowing that I don’t have to rush to an office job wearing heels, a dress and tons of makeup is a welcoming sigh of relief.

I know that my workday will start as soon as I find my robe and coffee.

In 2013 I created a side hustle that ended up becoming my main income in 2014. From that moment forward I left the corporate world and have worked for myself as a self-employed single mom.

Will I ever step foot into an office again? God… I hope not!

Once you work remotely, it’s very hard to go back to a 9 – 5 office job. Which is why I feel for those that are currently finding themselves working from home for the first time during this Covid19 Pandemic.

I know at first it sounded blissful, then the kids started bugging you during conference calls, the days started to blur together, and your favorite pajamas have now become your work attire, for the 5th day in a row.

Now you find yourself daydreaming about going back to work where you can have some peace and quiet without the interruption of fixing meals and walking the dog.

Work life balance while working from home is something you master over the years. I found myself somewhat depressed the first year working for myself until I found the necessary balance.

Working from home doesn’t mean you are ALWAYS working.

Your home is your sanctuary, your safe space from the world and if you find yourself sitting alone in your car, in the garage, with a carton of Haagen Daaz, sobbing, then perhaps you’ve made a wrong turn at some point and that safe space has now become your prison.

Allow me to give you a few tips that I had to learn, the hard way

(Prefer to watch the video? CLICK HERE)

1) STOP checking your email all the time

This one is tough, because there is a part of you that feels guilty for working from home so you try to justify it by staying on top of your emails and making sure you reply within 5 minutes to everyone. This looks EXTRA fishy if you’re responding within seconds from your smartphone. We will assume you are off playing somewhere or binging on Netflix. The guilty vibe is REALLY fierce then.

No one is going to assume that you’re watching daytime television and ignoring your co-workers or clients. In fact, it actually looks a little desperate to respond so quickly, after all, aren’t you busy with other things? This may give the impression to your boss or clients that you have nothing better to do with your time then answer emails all day long. If that’s the case, then your boss may dump even MORE work your way.

I have scheduled my day to check emails once every 2 hours or longer – depending on my schedule. Then I try my best to NOT check it after 5pm or on the weekends. You have to set boundaries with virtual office hours, or you will lose your mind and drain your mental battery.

Even if you have no intention of replying, just by checking your email – you’ve already mentally started to reply or think about how you will respond therefore causing your mind to go into overdrive instead of being in the present moment.

*Anxiety is created when thinking about the past or the future – you can’t do anything about either one so focus on the present.

2) STOP leaving your phone ON, all hours of the day

If your phone is ON all the time, then so are you.

But Karie, my boss might call me… then what?

What if he/she does? You can claim that you were on another call and call them back.

Having your phone on all day long will make you feel like YOU have to be ‘on’ all day too. Your energy will feel drained and you won’t feel like you have permission to relax and give your brain a break.

Goes back to having virtual office hours. This is setting healthy boundaries, not rebelling or being rude.

If your job requires you to be reachable via phone from 9-5, then have your phone on. Then after 5, silence your phone or place it on do-not-disturb. Most do not expect you to work during non-office hours, so take advantage of that freedom and honor your mental health.

I have the luxury to schedule my calls on certain days and I do not answer random calls. I also have my phone on do-not-disturb during the workday so that I can focus on my current projects without interruption. My smartphone allows for me to have an emergency bypass for contacts that are important to me. For example, my daughter and my mother can get ahold of me at any time regardless of my phone being on DND. These settings allow for you to have some quiet work time without hearing the robocalls that are coming through multiple times a day.

The more effective and productive you are – the quicker you can get back to your free time.

Sidenote: I would highly suggest not having ALL of your notifications on either. Unless you have a severe case of FOMO, fear of missing out (which is a whole different topic of self-help that you may want to look into), you can make this change in the settings of your phone. You will find that you get a lot more work done without being notified every time a friend uploads a snapchat photo or who is going LIVE on Instagram. If it has nothing to do with work, then you don’t need to be notified, trust me, it can wait. Distractions will not get those reports done that your boss requested last week

3) STOP working in all areas of your home

When you think of working from home, you envision yourself curled up on the couch in your PJ’s, sipping your latte and watching Live with Kelly and Ryan.

I used to see that vision too. Then I realized that when I worked from anywhere in my home, I had created my entire home to be my home office which left me with nowhere to relax.

I spoke about having virtual boundaries before, and now I want you to create physical boundaries also.

The British used to create all of their homes with closed off rooms that had a designated purpose (can you tell that I’m currently binging Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime?).

They had a sewing room, a library, a parlor, a dining room, and the list goes on. We adapted that for awhile in the states too before creating homes with open floor plans.

Regardless of how your home is laid out, I want you to create a designated workspace. I want your mind to know that when you sit in that space, you are ‘clocked in’ for work. Then when you leave it, you are ‘clocked out’.

Seems silly at first but trust me – it works.

I’ve been working from home for over 7 years and when I log off for the day and close my laptop in my home office, something energetically shifts in me as I walk to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. I immediately relax and feel my feminine domestic side start to come through after being boss lady for most of the day.

My daughter can attest that ‘work mode’ mom responds very differently to her when she’s at her desk, then ‘domesticated mom’ that is making dinner.

My home office is currently in the loft, so I have to create boundaries that aren’t physically there due to the lack of walls. I never take my laptop down to the kitchen table or the family room. I want those spaces to be kept for laughter and playtime with my loved ones and not filled with work energy.

I truly hope that you implement these sanity saving tips into your work from home experience because achieving work/life balance is a necessity for your mental health, not a luxury.

Big hugs! Big love!
Karie Millspaugh