Welcome back to our three-part series on the art of working from home. In October’s installment, we focused on how to be productive when working remotely. This month, we’re doing a 180 and speaking to those of you who can’t seem to disconnect when your work day is over. This is an incredibly common issue that gets magnified when there are no clear boundaries between work and home. If you find yourself nodding as you hear that telecommuters often work longer hours than their in-house colleagues, you’re spot on, and this newsletter is for you. Studies show that 45% of Americans check their work email after business hours, and people who are able to successfully unplug from work are more likely to be physically and mentally healthier. Read on for my top three tips I give to clients who can’t seem to shut off when work and home are in the same place.
Create a done-with-work ritual.
Without a commute, walk to your car, or even a door to close behind you that signals you’re leaving your office, it can be really hard to declare the workday over. To combat this issue, develop a ritual you use every day to mark the end of one part of your day and the beginning of the next. Some people like to change clothes (even if it’s just from one athleisure outfit to another), others will listen to an upbeat song and have a mini dance-party, and still, others take it one step further and literally get outside to have a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t matter what this ritual or routine looks like, as long as it helps you and your brain realize that work is over.
Establish a dedicated work area, and only make use of it during work hours.
In an ideal world, you’ll have a full office in your home that can remain untouched with the door closed outside of normal business hours. However, that’s rarely possible – and that’s okay! There are still tons of options to create a space that is officially for work only. You might be able to snag a corner in a guest room (or even in your own bedroom), or perhaps you can claim a closet as your office. When I worked from home one day each week out of a 500-square-foot apartment, I would simply take my big file folder out of my work bag and set it on the counter, and mentally declare that my workspace for the day. When the clock hit 5, I closed my laptop and put that file folder away. You might have to get creative with your work-from-home setup, but carving out your own space is so worth it. What’s most important is that you don’t use that space when you’re not actually trying to work.
Purposefully disconnect, and let your team know about that plan.
When working from home, the boundaries can get blurry. It’s easy to convince yourself to just get started on emails right when your alarm goes off instead of waiting until your normal work hours begin. However, just as most employees in a traditional office setting are expected to do the bulk of their work when they’re in the office, you also are allowed to set those boundaries even though your office is only 10 steps away from your bed. Set clear expectations with your team members and staff to let them know you’re reachable via all means during business hours (you can figure out what exactly that looks like for you) and by phone for emergencies outside of that window. Once you have those guidelines in place, stick to them! This is role modeling appropriate work-life balance and also giving yourself some freedom from being connected.
Creating a leaving work routine is a powerful tool whether you work remotely, in an office, or a combination of both. This article has some really great ideas (I loved the Mr. Rogers comparison) to get you started. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!
If you are interested in learning more, here are some of our favorite resources:
- Folk Rebellion’s Instagram account focuses on “finding freedom, IRL.”
- Remote Office Tours: A Look Into 10 Home Setups of Remote Workers
- “It is essential to understand what is important or what is just perceived to be so.”
- 7 Beautiful Coworking Spaces that Offer Babysitting, Too