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April 20, 2022

Habits To Live By To Separate Remote Work And Personal Time

Monica Carroccetto

Black man works on computer while sitting on bean bag and legs resting on table.

Work-Life Balance

Working from home can make it difficult to draw the line between where work ends and your personal life begins.

Over the past two years, we've all had to navigate the awkwardness of living and working at home. Unfortunately, we’ve neglected the need to form healthy boundaries between our work lives and our personal lives. Here are a few habits to incorporate into your daily routine to ensure that your Zoom and Netflix stay far apart from each other.

Why is it important to keep your home and work life separate?

Increased productivity

Clearly defining your work time from your personal time is key in helping us to complete tasks in an efficient and productive manner. Having a ‘clock out time’ motivates us to set targets and goals and complete tasks within that allotted time. By mixing and matching our pajama pants with our blazer attire, what could’ve been clear deadlines and due dates at work begin to dissipate and get pushed to a later time in the day that could’ve been allotted for personal use.

Decreased stress and burnout

Stress and burnout are two of the most common challenges we face in modern working times. Setting concrete schedules for working hours allows us to practice healthy boundary setting and allow a proportionate amount of time to focus on other areas of our life such as friends, family, hobbies, and self-care activities.

Mindfulness and presence

By untangling the messy knot that is working from home, we can increase our mindfulness behaviors and learn to be present in the moment. In turn, this supports our ability to focus at work as well as spend quality time with our loved ones.

Now that I’ve listed a few reasons why it is so important to put our stick in the sand and draw a line between home and work, let’s get into a few ways we can take action:

Establish a workspace

It would be ideal if we could all have a dedicated room (or separate house if you want to dream big) for our office. If you do have this luxury, pledge to do your work in this office and in this office only. When the workday is over, bid your farewell to this room for the evening. If you do not have a separate office, create a work area in an existing room. This could be at the end of your dining room table or a desk in your bedroom. It is key to ensure a consistent space for work only, that you do not utilize any other time of day or for other activities.

Keep it separate

At the end of your workday, put your laptop and other work-related materials out of sight when possible. Tucking the items away can provide you with psychological relief and signal to your brain that it is time to relax. Out of sight, out of mind!

Set a morning routine that does not revolve around work

Hit our alarm clock, roll out of bed, and log in to our computers. This seems to be the most common routine when working from home. It’s important to incorporate self-care and personal needs in our mornings in order to be best prepared for the day ahead. This can include:

  • A brief walk around the block
  • Making your coffee and breakfast
  • Taking a shower
  • Listening to a meditation video

Honoring your days off

When your home and office have the same address, it’s easy to sneak in an email or two on the weekend or any other days you have off because ‘you’re home anyways.’ Having dedicated days of downtime from work does not dismiss your care and determination. Instead, it is allowing you time to emotionally recharge and attend to your needs.

Set your hours and stick to them

It’s tempting to open your laptop at midnight when you can’t sleep or are worrying about that meeting tomorrow morning. Setting boundaries of starting and finishing work at a specific time with breaks in between is essential to avoiding a messy tango that interferes with your personal time away. Without social cues signaling the end of day work that we’d have in an in-person environment, we tend to work longer hours and have less time for personal hobbies.

Work-life balance can be achieved while working from home if we make it a priority to set aside time for ourselves and the people we love, set boundaries with our schedules, and engage in productive ways of working. Take a deep breath, we got this!

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