POSTED AUG 2020
Technology has made it harder to switch off from work, as everything is now at our fingertips at all times. This has been a great enabler (how could the current pandemic response have worked in a world of letter writing and phone calls only?), but it has also made it harder to switch off. When work and home is in the same physical space, it is even more difficult to create boundaries, and many people have ended up working longer hours as a result, blurring home and work into a stressful mix of never quite switching off.
Here are some tips on how to separate work and home life when both take place in the same physical space. And the added benefit here is that switching off at the end of a day and staying focused and productive during working hours is often the one and the same thing.
1. Establish a clocking on and off routine
This could be taking a brief walk, exercising, having a shower, cooking or housework, for example. The idea is to establish a clear boundary between the working day and your private life with an activity that clears your mind.
2. Get dressed for work
This is a variation on the same theme. No need for the tie, obviously, but staying in your pjs is not good for your mental health or self discipline. Pick something reasonably comfortable, that also helps you separate your work wardrobe from the rest of your life.
3. Keep regular hours
It doesn’t need to be 9-5, but fixing your hours and being disciplined about it will prevent you from reaching for your emails or logging on whenever an idea seizes you or someone makes contact. If it’s working time, work, if it isn’t, don’t.
4. Work from a dedicated space
Not everyone has the luxury of a separate room to use as an office (use it if you do!), but it’s still important to separate out a space for the purpose, even if it is in the corner of your bedroom. Having a dedicated space will keep you centred and focused, and will make it easier to ‘leave the office’ when you do log off. When you finish for the day, clear away as much as is practical, so that ‘the office’ becomes less visible and intrusive.
5. Don’t ‘multitask’ between the two
Answering emails in between doing DIY or mixing a cake batter may seem like a great time saver, but it also blurs the boundaries. This is how you end up working 24/7.
6. Manage your time well
This may seem obvious, but switching off from work is dependent on feeling on top of your workload and happy with what you’ve achieved during the day.
If you have a work phone, try to switch it off and leave it alone outside working hours, and consider removing work emails and apps from your private phone. The reverse goes for the work day – leave Facebook and Instagram alone!
8. Use your leisure time well
Embrace the time off to do things you enjoy that stimulate you and help you find physical and mental wellbeing. Whether it’s exercise, spending time with loved ones or pursuing hobbies, make sure to schedule time for these activities. Your life shouldn’t be consumed by work and the quest to recover from it.
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