Almost half of us are now working from home. This week, we’ll discuss some of the ways in which we can make that all important separation between our jobs – and our home lives; protecting our boundaries, so that we can live better.
By Lia Burge Rogers
If, like me, you’re a work-from-home veteran, you’ll have learnt the hard way how important it is to separate home, and work life. Unfortunately, I have no foolproof strategy for keeping your kids out of your video calls. But, I do have a few top tips I’d like to share with you. I hope they help you to find balance in your home environment.
GET READY – FOR YOURSELF
Let’s start from the beginning. The alarm goes off. I bet most of us roll over and start scrolling, or answer emails from bed. So here’s the first tip – get up, and get ready. Just like you would if you were going to the office. It’s important to make that transition – for the good of your work; and your mental health. We are much more likely to feel positive about our work if we get showered and dressed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great work-from-home perk to spend the day in comfortable clothes (especially if you’re usually suited and booted), but make sure it’s not literally your pyjamas. Change out of what you wear in bed, wash your face and brush your hair – even if you don’t have a zoom meeting! You’re doing this to make yourself feel positive and professional.
PLAN YOUR DAY
There are huge advantages to being in charge of your own time. But it’s easy to let the day run away with you and start juggling, so, let’s make sure we are doing it right. Try to make a daily schedule the night before, or over your morning cuppa. Start and finish on time as much as possible. Be as specific as possible. Make it clear to your household that you are at work (as much as possible!). Include breaks! This way, you’re being intentional about how you spend your time. Maybe there are a few things you would change about the structure of your working day at the office? Or a time you’d prefer to stop for lunch? So, change it up – make it work for you.
TAKE YOUR BREAKS
Speaking of stopping for lunch – STOP FOR LUNCH!
It’s in your schedule after all… And make sure it’s a real break. Have a walk; take a sandwich and a book to the park; treat yourself to something delicious at the local deli; or take the time to make a nice salad from scratch. Why not treat yourself to some lovely posh coffee for your home, a nice selection of teas and a fruit bowl… you can choose your very own office perks! Change rooms during your break – don’t eat at your desk, and try to get outside; away from the screen.
CREATE YOUR SPACE
Some of us are lucky enough to have a study or a spare bedroom to work in. But perhaps you only have a desk in your bedroom, or a coffee table in the lounge. Either way, it’s vital that your ‘work space’ is exclusively for work. Here are a few tips for setting up your space.
- SPACE: Clear your work surface. Clutter is the enemy – you don’t want life admin and children’s books everywhere. Just have the things you need to do your job, and space for a big glass of water.
- SIGHT: I am big on lighting. Nobody likes those office strip lights anyway. The way a room is lit can have a huge impact on our eyes, and our energy. I love lamps (and daylight lamps are great if you struggle with S.A.D in winter). On a grey day I even light candles in my work room.
- SMELL: Try using a diffuser. When I have to work in the same room I sleep in, I like to have different essential oils for day and night – work and rest. Try lemongrass or peppermint to help you focus, and lavender or vetiver to wind you down. Experiment and see what works for you.
- SETTING: If you have a work room, make it your own. Get rid of clutter (or at least hide it!) and make the room a pleasant place to be. And, when the end of the day comes, leave it tidy and ready to receive you in the morning.
- SET CHANGE: If you don’t have a dedicated work room, is there a way you can cover it over/reinvent it when the day is over? Perhaps put a changing screen in front of the desk, or put your computer and papers away in a drawer. The next day, take the time to set up your space again. Make it a ritual.
RESIST THE SLUMP
At the risk of sounding like your mother, you really need to drink water throughout the day. Apart from anything else, it will help you with the dreaded 4’o’clock slump. And, about that… I love a nap. For some, it’s no good so please do skip along if that’s you. My favourite thing about working from home is – when I feel that wave of exhaustion come over me in the afternoon – I can get comfy and close my eyes for 20 minutes. I understand that you might feel guilty about sleeping ‘on the clock,’ but you will ultimately be more productive. If you were in the office you’d probably make a coffee, mainline jammie dodgers, and stare at your screen for half an hour! So, what’s the difference? Well, about 1000 mindless calories and a fruitful afternoon.
CLOSE THE DOOR
It’s easier said than done, but, at the end of the day – close the door, proverbial or physical, on your work. You no longer have the commute to transition, so maybe try and get outside again for a walk. Have a stretch, do a bit of yoga, qigong or meditation or maybe even some Wild Art Journaling. Just give yourself a short interlude to decompress – before dinner; kids; shopping; plans; and all the rest of life comes rushing in.
As always, we love to hear from you. Please do share your insights, experiences, pros and cons, of working from home. How do you separate home and work life? And what could we offer that might help you find a balance? Comment below.