Strategies to Balance Work and Home Responsibilities When Living Alone


Solo living has become more popular today, reflecting a shift in societal preferences for autonomy and independence.

But while these shifts are generally good, solo living creates challenges. For instance, it’s difficult to balance maintaining a household while fulfilling career demands, among other things. Dealing with these challenges requires a lot of adaptability and resilience.

Thus, this article explores the multifaceted nature of solo living. It will tackle the importance of time management and healthy coping mechanisms as effective tools for managing domestic and professional obligations. Read more to take charge of your solo lifestyle!

Understanding the challenges of living alone

The trend of living alone in a household extends worldwide, highlighting the importance of understanding the emerging challenges. You must identify the multifaceted nature of the challenges comprising social isolation, financial strains, and the sole responsibility for household tasks.

By exploring these, you will gain insight into the experiences of individuals struggling with solo living arrangements. Here, you will delve into specific obstacles experienced by those living alone while shedding light on their impact.

Social isolation

According to a National Health Survey Report, 16% of adults lived alone in 2021. Among these, feelings of depression were higher in 6.4% of adults living alone compared to 4.1% of adults living with others (both men and women) across Hispanic-origin groups, most races, and by family income. Adults living alone were approximately twice as likely to report feelings of depression and rarely or never had emotional and social support.

In the United States, 27% of adults aged 60 and older live alone compared to 16% of adults residing in 130 territories and countries. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Middle East-North Africa regions (e.g., Mali, Afghanistan, and Algeria), only less than 5% of seniors live alone.

Older populations living alone are at higher risk of social isolation and loneliness, leading to anxiety and depression, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and mortality.

Financial strain

On average, people who live alone spend 92% of their income. However, households containing two adults spend only 83% of their income. Housing costs (e.g., energy bills) are common expenses for both one- and two-adult households, but they tend to be greater for solo dwellers, increasing the probability of financial strain in their daily lives.

Individuals aged 25 to 64 living alone spend more of their disposable income on mortgages, rent, and housing costs, such as energy bills. They also spend on furnishing their homes and food and drink. However, they spend less on clothes, leisure activities, and transport than two adult households.

Living alone makes it harder for people to save money and hinders them from meeting ends for more than a month. Some individuals living alone have less opportunity to accumulate wealth through paying off their mortgage or buying their home.

The sole responsibility for household tasks

People aged 55 and older who had at least a difficulty with one of the instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), (e.g., preparing meals, grocery shopping, managing financial affairs, taking the right medication on time, etc) is higher in people living alone (67%) compared to those living with a partner (45%). Among people aged over 55 and living alone desire more help (13%) compared to those living with their partner.

Therefore, house chores, including cleaning the house, running errands, cooking/preparing meals, etc., become challenging for solo living. Due to the lack of time, energy, and physical ability, some tasks may go undone, leading to an unhygienic and unsafe living environment.

Strategies for balancing work and home responsibilities

Solo living presents challenges when finding harmony between their home responsibilities and work life. People living alone can improve work-life balance with a support network, establishing routines, and managing time effectively. Therefore, implementing strategies will help embrace the solo lifestyle. Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

Manage your time effectively

Trying to figure out every aspect of your life by yourself can become stressful. Managing your time when living alone is one of the most common and major challenges that may hinder fulfilling your daily life responsibilities and reaching a work-life balance.

Read more: The Impact of Work-Life Balance on Financial Well-Being and Happiness 

Here are some points to consider when managing time effectively. Remember to regularly evaluate, adjust, and modify your approach to time management. What works for one person may not work for you. Stay flexible and adapt accordingly.

  • Prioritize. Take 5 to 30 minutes to prioritize and organize your time so that you can accomplish daily life tasks efficiently while saving time in the long run.
  • Schedule. Schedule your tasks within a provided day or a week and then create a to-do list accordingly.
  • Avoid interruptions. Tame interruptions within your schedule by eliminating potential distractions while doing a task. For instance, when working at a workplace, turn off visual and audio alert cues and shut down the email program or ignore them until the scheduled time.
  • Disconnect. Mute devices and set aside time for non-work-related activities (e.g., hiking, paying bills, etc.).

Establish healthy routines

Establishing routines is crucial when living alone as it creates efficiency and structure in daily life regarding tasks like cleaning, meal preparation, work, etc. It enhances productivity and minimizes stress, leading to a sense of control, predictability, and accomplishment as a solo dweller.

Routines allow you to set boundaries between personal and work life, fostering a healthy balance and ultimately improving quality of life. Create healthy routines when living alone.

  • Schedule. Setting a schedule for yourself and sticking to it every day.
  • Self-exploration. Trying something new as you live alone and form a new identity. Try a new recipe or have a morning coffee by yourself.
  • Diverse pursuits. Engaging in different activities, such as traveling, painting, volunteering in a community, exercising, and meeting with friends.
  • Be kind. Being kind to yourself, noticing your feelings, and being aware of the triggers of those feelings.
  • Outdoor serenity. Connecting with nature (e.g., taking a walk in the park or green spaces) brings out feelings of relaxation and gratitude, ultimately enhancing well-being.
  • Conscious networking. Limiting social media and using it wisely as solo living can tempt you to get immersed in social applications, leading to decreased self-esteem and increased anxiety.

Build a support network

Social isolation emerges when you live alone, thus building a support network beyond the confines of your home. Connect with family, friends, and local communities to achieve assistance for work-life balance. A support network fosters connections and enhances your capability to navigate the challenges of living alone with resilience.

Cultivate meaningful relationships with people who inspire you. Invest in your social support system and be patient — building a strong support network takes effort and time. Develop your social support system by:

  • Physical activity. Joining a gym or selecting any sport as it provides an opportunity to create new friendships.
  • Social connections. Make efforts to interact and get to know your work colleagues and neighbors regularly.
  • Volunteer. Commit your time to any community organization as a volunteer and expand your support network with people of similar interests and goals.
  • Professional networking. Extend your social networks by joining professional organizations, where friends from the same profession may better acknowledge and understand your stress.
  • Virtual support. Use reputable social networking sites to stay connected with family and friends and receive support when you are struggling to live alone.

Read more: Geoffrey L. Greif, Ph.D.: The Power of Good Friends – Social Support for Happiness | Sero Boost #32 – Insights 

In conclusion

Every individual experiences challenges in work and household responsibilities when they start living alone for the first time. Work-life balance is important to self-care, adaptability, health, and well-being. However, solo living comes with disadvantages, such as financial strain, social isolation, and sole responsibility for household tasks.

Some effective ways to alleviate the adverse effects of challenges experienced by solo dwellers in terms of work-life balance are managing your time effectively, building strong social networks, and establishing healthy routines.

Take the first step to balance your work and household responsibilities and say goodbye to chaos in your solo lifestyle.

If you would like to see more resources on household management, check out the Personal Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Personal Science Labs today.

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