It seems that no matter how good our intentions are it has become increasingly harder to separate work from personal life. Some of this is due to how transparent and accessible we have become through modern technology. Another reason is that many of us work from home either all the time or occasionally.
There comes a point when we need to take a step back and reevaluate our priorities. Separating work related activities form personal needs and responsibilities is good for us both mentally and physically. It reduces burnout and makes us more productive. Here are a few tips on how to separate the two and create a better balanced life.
Have Designated Spaces
If you work in an office environment, don’t bring your personal life into that space. A favorite photograph of your kids is fine. Don’t fill your work area with mementos from home or photographs of vacations. And, don’t spend time during working hours in your office answering personal emails, posting on social media, or chatting on the phone with friends. Use the space to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
If you work from home, set up a designated area that is just for work. That could be a home office that has a door you can close. Or, it could be a desk in a corner that is set up with only work related items. Don’t allow family members to use your office area when you are working. When you leave the area, close the door or turn off the work related technology and the desk lamp.
Stick to a Routine
One of the hardest things for many of us is staying on track by sticking to a routine. Whether you commute to a remote office or telecommute from your home office, give yourself a schedule and keep to it. Let’s say you work from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Try to stay with that and walk away to tend to your personal life at precisely 5:00 PM. Let your employers, colleagues, or clients know that you are not available between 5:00 PM and 8:00 AM. They will get used to it and will not be likely to abuse the boundaries you have established, especially if you aren’t reachable.
Disengage from Work Related Technology
This again speaks to the boundaries you have established. With today’s technology, it is too easy to be connected to work 24/7. Here are some tips on shutting it down.
- Keep two separate email accounts and turn off your work account at the end of the day.
- Have two separate phone numbers and turn the ringer off for your work phone when your day is over, unless of course you are a professional who is on call.
- Keep your social media accounts private. Don’t “friend” or share personal accounts or posts with work contacts, especially your boss.
Schedule Play Dates
We schedule play dates for our kids all the time. Why not schedule some adult play time? Make plans with friends who are not colleagues at work. And don’t break the date. For instance, schedule a weekly workout date with a buddy, such as taking a yoga class or going for a power walk in the park. Physical activity, especially with friends, tends to take our minds off of work quickly.
Take Time Off
It is very important for us to take a real break from work. You need to take at least one day a week off to rest, recharge, and tend to personal responsibilities. You also need to take vacation time. Don’t be tempted to bring along your work laptop, even if it is a staycation. Also, take a time out every day. Rather than wolfing down a sandwich at your desk, go outside for lunch or just take 20 minutes to practice mindfulness meditation or to walk around the block.
Separating work from our personal lives isn’t always possible. Yet, it is something we should try to do to achieve balance and to be better friends, partners, and parents.