No matter where you work or what type of work you do, juggling your work and personal life is an ongoing struggle. When you work from home, however, you automatically lose one of the main natural dividers between your personal and professional life.
One of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy work environment is being able to compartmentalize and unplug. Unlike your electronic devices, the only way to truly recharge your personal batteries is by unplugging.
Here are 4 ways to unplug and recharge when working from home.
1. Organize Work To The Last Task
When you work from home, it makes it far too easy to do “just one more thing” that turns into another thing until the next thing you know it is late into the evening or night. Rigid scheduling and discipline are critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle when you work from home.
Discipline doesn’t just mean pushing yourself to do things, it also means letting go of them when it is time to be done.
Sometimes, forcing yourself to stop working can be even more difficult than making yourself work. Not only do you need to set firm boundaries around what hours you work and what hours you don’t, but you need to be extremely disciplined about setting deadlines for yourself. If you know you can work late into the night to finish whatever work you don’t accomplish during the day, you probably will.
If you have a firm, hard-and-fast deadline that you have to meet for work, you are more likely to do so. Remember that being your own boss means you need to be your own boss.
2. Put Your Business Out Of Sight
If you have a designated office area, you need to close and lock the door the same way you would if you were leaving a regular office. If you don’t have a separate office area, you need to shut away your work materials entirely. This might involve getting a locking cabinet or a designated work laptop you shut away in a drawer at night.
Whatever it may be, it is highly important to make sure you have no visual reminders of work or that’s all you will likely think about.
When you work in an office, there is a literal physical separation between your home and your work that is not present when you work from home.
To create mental separation between the two, find a way to physically separate it. If you must return to work at night, designate a very specific time do so and a finite amount of time to devote to it. When that time is up, it is very important to shut it down and/or lock it away.
3. Create A Daily Detaching Ritual
Separating the work from the personal involves creating good boundaries around each. While you may shut and lock an office door, it may be more difficult to disengage your brain from work tasks. You can help accomplish this each day by creating a “dividing ritual” that moves you from the working to the personal life.
This ritual might be kicking off your shoes and having a glass of wine or a drink, going for a run or going out to run personal errands. Whatever it is, it is important to make it a daily ritual and stick with it. Just remember Pavlov’s dog. You are seeking to create some kind of “trigger” that conditions you to make the shift mentally from work to rest.
At first, you will need to be disciplined about adhering to this ritual every day, even if it is enjoyable. Over time, however, you may find yourself regularly checking your watch about the same time every day to see if it is “ritual time” yet or not.
4. Reverse Engineer With Technology
While technology may be the thing you most need to unplug from, the irony is technology itself may help. For instance, you may set an alert on your phone to go off each day when it is time to wrap up work. If you are disciplined about doing so every day, then that alert itself can become the “trigger” that conditions you to switch from work to leisure mode.
Again, you may need to put in a few more hours later, but if you get used to “switching off” when your alarm goes off, eventually you won’t need the alarm anymore. You will naturally detach at a certain time each day.
Similarly, apps like Balanced (IOS only) or HabIt (Android) can also help you create those end-of-day disciplines that move you from work time into leisure or personal time.
Fitness tracking apps can also help keep you motivated to do that end-of-work run every day and once you get in the habit of doing something, you can wean yourself off the tech that helped you get there.
To Wrap It Up
People who go to an office every day have a very natural division between their home and work life. In addition, if they physically have to get up and drive into an office to do more work at night, they are less likely to do so.
Having your office right where you live can make it far more difficult to put work away and focus your attention solely on your family, friends, loved ones or yourself. Just remember that rest is an important part of having a healthy, productive work life.
Unplugging is actually the way you recharge your batteries. Just like your cell phone, you can’t work on a dead battery.