In an interconnected world where we’re always ‘on’ and people spend more time at work than ever, it’s easy for the lines between work and home to become a little hazy.
If you’re noticing that the hurries and worries of the work day are starting to seep into your valuable personal time, it’s important to build in some strategies to create a clear boundary between work and the rest of your life.
A few ideas that might work for you, whether you work onsite or from home, are below.
Develop boundaries and daily rituals
Clear boundaries and rituals help to mark the workday’s start and end. The benefit of having these in place is that they can help you work more enthusiastically while you’re at work, and when work is over, truly rest and relax. Try a few different techniques to see what works for you.
These might include:
- Changing into leisure clothes once at home, or when your work day is over.
- If you work from home, keeping work things in a designated work space and leaving your work space when you would leave the office.
- Doing something you enjoy to mark the end of the day – this may mean munching on your favourite fruit or snack, browsing through your favourite websites, doing a crossword, or reading a book. Small rituals like these done at a specific time can help you activate a relaxation mindset.
- Scheduling an exercise or yoga class (or another commitment) that you’ll need to leave for at your designated finish time.
- Having clear work hours. This will vary for everyone, but setting a reasonable expectation for when you will no longer be contactable – i.e. from 6pm – and sticking to these times can help you more easily relax and remove the responsibility to check work calls or emails.
Use your commute
Whether your commute is 20 minutes or an hour, travel time can serve as the ideal changeover between your life at work and home.
A Harvard study suggested that although commuting is typically seen as an undesirable part of the workday, it is also a chance for transitioning into a different role as our work life and home life are physically separated.
In practice, this could mean spending the first part of your commute thinking about the day’s challenges (and wins!) as well as writing an ‘exit list’ of the top 5 things you’ll need to focus your energy on at work tomorrow or next week. For the second part of the journey, focus on transitioning into leisure time. This may include putting on your favourite music, listening to an audiobook or podcast, and thinking of things you’re looking forward to at home, or on the weekend.
If you work from home or very close to your workplace, this might mean ‘faking your commute’ by going for a walk or run, and applying the steps above.
Take your break
Taking a break at work is an important part of processing your day. Breaks are key for preserving vital mental energy, helping you bring your best self forward into the rest of your day or shift.
Author Daniel Pink says that not only should we be taking more breaks, but that there are 5 key tips you can use to make your breaks even more replenishing:
- A short break beats no break
- Moving around beats being stationary
- Being social beats flying solo
- Being outside beats staying inside, and
- Removing your body and mind from work – i.e. don’t talk about work, and don’t bring your phone along with you if possible.
Adding in a few simple rituals to your routine can make all the difference – and help you really switch off.
Flick through your copy of Looking After You for more tips on managing the ‘life juggle’.