How To Create a Healthy Work-Life Balance While Working Remotely

One of the questions I get asked the most by aspiring remote workers is: How do you find the time to work when all you want to do is go to the beach?

And I’ve got to admit, it’s taken me a while to get it right. It’s not as simple as eat, beach, work, sleep, repeat. There’s so much more to it than that.

But after 3 years of being a full-time remote worker, I can finally say I’m healthier and more productive than ever.

I’ve finally found a system that works and I’m about to reveal everything.

Here’s everything you need to know about creating a healthy work-life balance while remote working around the world.

What is Remote Work-Life Balance?

Digital nomad working from the beach

Work-life balance refers to the equilibrium between the demands of your career and the demands of your personal life, including socializing, being a homebody, and taking ample care of your well-being.

It’s about having the ability to effectively manage and allocate time and energy to both work-related and non-work-related activities.

In theory, work and life should be at a 50/50 equal balance.

But I’m here to bring us all back down to earth because finding and maintaining a 50/50 balance isn’t always going to be realistic. Some days will demand more from you work-wise and others will demand more from you life-wise. Not to mention travel-wise.

That’s why I believe in a fluid work-life harmony rather than a “balance.” One that ebbs and flows depending on your workload, priorities and needs.

So, how can you create a work-life balance that works for you and your lifestyle?

Define what work-life balance means to you.

How to Define What Work-Life Balance Means to You

If you prioritize remote work and a freedom-based lifestyle over the norm, then your definition of success is probably different from the average person working a desk job. And that will also be the case for your work-life balance.

It doesn’t have to be what everyone else says it is—a.k.a. waking up at 5 am to go on a 2-hour commute and not taking a proper lunch break.

So, make it unique to you.

Before you dive into the rest of this post, I encourage you first to figure out your definition of work-life balance.

Here’s how:

  1. Write “work-life balance” at the center on a piece of paper
  2. Draw a circle around it
  3. Create a mind map by breaking down “work-life balance” into 5-8 smaller areas.

Once you’ve defined work-life balance, you can start focusing your time, energy, and focus in the right places.

Is Remote Work-Life Balance Actually Possible?

Digital nomad smiling while working on her laptop

I believe work-life balance is possible and it's actually the foundation of creating a more fulfilling life overall. It allows you to prioritize personal interests so you can be more than just a job and actually enjoy life.

Because you already work remotely and have the freedom to work from anywhere, chances are you’re already feeling pretty fulfilled.

So creating a healthy work-life balance as a remote worker is more for establishing boundaries and managing your time more efficiently.

Not only do you have to deal with the day’s usual workload and challenges but you also have the added pressure of planning travel around an 8-hour workday.

Despite what people back at home think, the laptop lifestyle can get pretty exhausting. But having a healthy work-life balance will help you to avoid that burnout.

It will help you to:

  • Reduce stress and overwhelm
  • Plan your days more effectively so you get the most out of remote work
  • Support daily self-care and well-being without sacrificing your productivity
  • Ditch the guilt over days spent surfing or diving
  • Maintain good mental health
  • Increase job and work satisfaction

5 Ways to Create a Healthy Remote Work-Life Balance

So, how can you create a healthy work-life balance as a remote worker? Here are my top tips:

1. Start the day with self-care

Digital nomad taking a morning walk on the beach

I believe productivity is intrinsically linked to health and wellness. Meaning you can’t have one without the other. If your well-being isn’t being taken care of then you can’t show up as your “best” self and perform as well as you want to.

For that reason, I spend my mornings engaging in self-care. It’s a non-negotiable that eases me into the day and allows me to feel mentally prepared and resilient for any obstacles that might arise.

This looks like waking up naturally (without an alarm clock) and reading for half an hour before doing a 90-minute yoga session. I then take my time to shower, dress and have a healthy breakfast before walking over to my co-work space. (Usually along the beach depending on where I am).

For me, being a remote worker is all about slow living and this is reflected in the morning ritual I’ve built for myself.

So start your day with self-care and establish work-life boundaries right from the get-go. Spend your morning doing what you want to be doing before getting started on your to-do list. This might look like going on a walk in nature, swimming or fitting in an early morning surf lesson. It might also look like visiting a museum or other must-see tourist hotspot.

This is timezone-dependent - I’m currently living in South East Asia, while my clients are based in the UK. This means that I can afford to have a slow morning and start work later on in the day. If you can’t commit to self-care in the morning, then end your day with self-care. Instead, go for a walk after work, watch the sunset, turn off your devices, or take yourself out for dinner. Build your morning routine based on your location.

2. Work when you’re most productive

Digital nomad working on her laptop while holding a cup of coffee

After A LOT of trial and error, I’ve learned that productivity is unique to you and your lifestyle. We’re all different and that’s ok!

Because you’re choosing to work remotely, that means you’ve already got the added benefit of working when you want to.

Sure, we all have meetings at specific times and deadlines to reach, but the rest of the time, you can structure your workday around your natural rhythm.

Embrace the flexibility of remote work by using your time efficiently and working when you’re most productive.

My most productive hours of the day are between 12 pm and 5 pm with a late evening burst between 8 pm and 10 pm. This allows me to enjoy a slow morning as well as have ample time in the afternoon to watch the sunset and grab a proper dinner.

If you struggle to find energy in the morning then start your day a bit later and ease in with the easiest tasks. Or if you’re a morning person and work best during dawn then schedule your day around this.

By aligning your workday with your energy levels, you can optimize your time and focus while procrastinating less.

3. Implement the Balanced Self Wheel hack

Balanced Self Wheel Diagram

If you struggle to balance your time during the day and don’t know where to start, then let me introduce you to the Balanced Self Wheel.

This simple hack is exactly what you need to make your daily work-life balance easier.

I came up with the concept a couple of years ago during my own remote work journey, and it has worked wonders for me.

Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into 3 equal parts
  • Step 2: Write one of the below phrases in each segment of your wheel leaving space below:
    • Be Productive
    • Be Playful
    • Be Restful
  • Step 3: Write down your top 1-3 work priorities within the ‘Be Productive’ segment
  • Step 4: Add 1-2 fun activities for the week within the ‘Be Playful’ segment
  • Step 5: Add 1-2 calming activities for the week within the ‘Be Restful’ Segment
  • Step 6: Schedule it in 

The secret to a healthy work-life balance is to treat play and rest as non-negotiables like you would with work commitments. By using this method, you can visually see how balanced your day looks.

But remember, The Balanced Self Wheel only represents one day. Don’t go overboard by filling up each area to the brim as this will just lead to overwhelm. 

Keep it simple and aim to focus only on 1-2 things for each area depending on your needs and priorities.

4. Prioritise healthy wellness habits

Digital noamd practicing yoga outside

I get it, when you're super focused on maximising productivity, your health can sometimes take a backseat.

But the truth is, prioritizing your well-being can actually 10x your performance.

Remember: you can’t show up with 100% capacity and energy if you’re not feeling 100% healthy.

One of the simplest ways to do this is by prioritizing habits that support daily wellness. The good news (because there’s no bad news here), they don’t require too much effort.

Think about incorporating wellness practices into your daily routine:

5. Use a co-working space

Coworking space

Since making use of co-working spaces abroad, my productivity has tripled. It’s so much more efficient than working in coffee shops as:

  • You don’t need to worry about ordering your 5th coffee
  • You don’t need to play music at full volume to drown out a screaming child

Plus, watching other people work on their laptops will motivate you to work more. No one wants to be that person twiddling their thumbs!

I now plan where I’m traveling next based on whether there is a co-working space or not.

Some of my recent favorites have been Kohub in Koh Lanta, Thailand, and B-Work in Canggu, Bali, as they both support the need for daily well-being and community without sacrificing productivity.

6. Keep a consistent weekly routine

Paper calendar

I managed to 10x my productivity while living on a tropical island in Thailand by simply keeping a consistent weekly routine. This looked like working every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the same time every day and taking Tuesdays and Saturdays off to explore.

I’d also make sure my morning routine, sunset swim, and dinner were scheduled on each of my workdays so there was plenty to look forward to while working through my to-do list.

Because I’d planned my days in advance and knew when to expect what, this meant that I didn’t get FOMO.

I also recommend having a designated travel day if you move around a lot so your routine doesn’t change around too much.

This for me is usually on a Friday as it’s the day where my workload is most flexible. This also makes planning and booking flights a lot quicker and easier.

7. Build a travel reset routine

Digital nomad taking a shower

As I mentioned earlier, the laptop lifestyle can be exhausting and not as glamorous as it seems on social media (*Cue all the shocked faces).

Packing and living out of a suitcase often feels overwhelming, airports can be frustrating, flying can trigger anxiety and arriving in a new country can be a sensory overload.

To help ease travel burnout, I’ve built myself a travel reset routine to help me ground my feet again.

A travel reset routine allows you to regroup after moving to a new destination and get organized so you can show up the next day ready to take on the world (otherwise known as your to-do list).

Plus, it gives your mind, body, and skin the nourishment they need after a busy travel day.

My 6-step travel reset routine looks a little like this:

  • Step 1: Unpack and drop off my laundry
  • Step 2: Shower, cleanse and moisturise
  • Step 3: Stretch with a gentle yoga flow
  • Step 4: Go on a short walk around the local area
  • Step 5: Get my bearings and locate any essential shops
  • Step 6: Relax back at home and watch a movie

Feel free to create your own travel reset routine or adjust this one to better suit you and your needs.

8. Create a shutdown ritual

Digital nomad journaling

If you haven’t noticed by now, I LOVE an intentional routine. Whether it’s on a Sunday, in the morning and evening or after a long travel day, I love putting boundaries in place to help me switch from work mode to rest mode and vice versa.

I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to encourage a healthier balance between work and life is to build a shutdown ritual.

A shutdown ritual can help you mentally unplug from work, calm your mind, and ease you into the evening.

This ritual can be anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, but I suggest making it simple enough to remember so you can easily apply it every day. 

Typical shutdown habits can include:

  • Setting an alarm to prompt you into shutting down
  • Reviewing your inbox and checking that important emails have all been sent
  • Reflecting on your day and celebrating any wins
  • Moving any unfinished tasks to the next day
  • Planning your to-do list and schedule for tomorrow
  • Tidying up your workspace
  • Stretching

9. Rest

Digital noamd resting on a hammock

If there’s only one thing you choose to implement from this list, make sure it’s this one. Rest.

It’s essential. Not only for your health but for your productivity as well.

The bottom line is, you can’t show up and perform at your best if you’re not taking care of yourself first.

And rest allows you to do this.

When you take the time to rest and engage in things that bring you joy, you open yourself up to shifts in mindset, mood, and energy.

Just so we’re clear, resting goes far beyond getting enough sleep each night. In fact, according to Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith, there are 7 types of rest to choose from.

It doesn’t always need to be physical with afternoon naps, but it can be creative where you start a passion project just for fun.

So choose the area that best suits your needs each day:

  • Physical = restores the body
  • Mental = calms the mind
  • Social = solo time
  • Sensory = disconnect from “the noise”
  • Spiritual = find a sense of purpose
  • Emotional = reduces stress and overwhelm
  • Creative = tap into your creative energy

Final thoughts

A good work-life balance is not one-size-fits-all. It’s about doing what works for you every single day so you can avoid burnout and feel healthier, and happier.

That being said, the above tips are for inspiration only. I encourage you to test them out first before fully committing to them because what works for me might not necessarily work for you.

Feel free to take them as they are or adjust them to better suit you and your needs.

And if these tips seem slightly overwhelming then start small.

Choose just one idea to implement into your lifestyle rather than the full set. Introduce the one that seems the easiest to adopt or the one that will positively impact your well-being and productivity the most.

About the Author: Thalia-Maria Tourikis

Thalia is a big believer in freedom, setting your own rules and breaking free of societal expectations. In 2017, she quit her toxic job to build a happier life and has been traveling the world ever since. She is now on a mission to help unsatisfied women do the same. For daily(ish) self-care tips, you can find Thalia on Instagram and Pinterest, or for a deeper dive into designing a life you love, head over to her blog!

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