Whether it was you who decided to work from home or you were left no other choice, your work and private space are now one. Telecommuting to your desk can be an incredible time-saver. But when you no longer need to step out of the door in order to get to your office, it can become difficult to leave work behind once your workday is over.
Here are a few tips on how to prevent your work time spilling into your private time. And what to do when it’s absolutely essential you make an exception.
Set up a designated workspace
It’ll be much easier to leave work when you can physically move away from your home office at the end of the day.
If your living situation allows you to repurpose a room as a workspace, closing the door behind you will be easy. But if space is scarce and your dining table is the only place you can set up camp at, try to pack it away every evening. The last thing you want is your laptop sitting there as a silent reminder of your long to-do list – especially when you’re trying to disconnect and enjoy your dinner.
Create a routine
When external cues like the train journey home or Friday drinks are not there to tell you it’s time to take your work hat off, you’ll need to create a new routine. Breakfast, coffee, and a short walk outside can create a feeling of transition from not working to working.
Also taking breaks at regular intervals can help you disconnect and recharge throughout the day. Need to tear your eyes away from the computer screen? Read a book for 20 minutes, call your mom, or have lunch with a friend.
Wind down your day
Remember to practice an end-of-the-day routine. Take the last 30 minutes to review what you’ve done and what you’ll need to pick up on your next workday. If your home office is improvised in your living space, make sure to physically pack it away. Try not to rush onto your next task, instead maybe change your clothes, take a walk, or do some exercise to help your body and mind settle into the evening mode.
Communicate your schedule
Working from home and being flexible with your hours may mean that you get to work when you are at your best. But with everyone on the team working different hours, it can also create the feeling of needing to be on call all the time. Whatever your hours, make weekly schedules and communicate them to your team. It may be easier to avoid the temptation of answering that one email on your day off if your colleagues are not expecting you to be available.
Call it a day
With so many solutions helping us work wherever and whenever, it can be difficult not to do so all the time. To protect your personal space, see if you can set a hard cut-off time for checking your emails 30 minutes before the end of your workday. Log off from your email and turn off notifications for all work-related communication on your phone. It can be handy to set up an automatic email reply stating when you’ll be available to read and reply to your messages again.
Plan after work time
If you have something to do after work, it will be much easier to stop. Sign up for an online sport class, pick up meditation or guitar lessons. Plan a walk with a friend or have virtual Friday drinks with colleagues to end the week. Make a list of things you enjoy and incorporate them regularly into your schedule.
And if you absolutely have to do some work in your personal time…
Try to make it an exception to the rule and remember to schedule a start time and end time for your task. For example, read and review that proposal for an hour after lunch on Sunday, from 14:00 till 15:00. And when the time is up, close the door to your workspace and enjoy the rest of the day.