Working From Home – 5 ways to separate work life from home life

I received so many emails about my last blog/e-bulletin and I’m delighted it made so many of you smile. You not only found my attempt to go on (a very unusual) holiday amusing, but were also very sympathetic. I was told of the similar ‘silly’ things done just to get a break from the four walls we find ourselves living in during these very unusual times.

Working from home (or as we like to call it now WFH) can be stressful, especially the decisions we have to make when attending online meetings. I often can’t make up my mind whether to wear loungers, pyjama bottoms or shorts. It’s a tough life :)

I’ve been working from home for 31 years and a lot of the challenges many people now have separating home life from work life, I no longer have or have greatly reduced.

When we don’t separate the two we become less creative, more fatigued, and less productive which can lead to burnout. Which I know all about as in the first 12 years in business all I did was work, even when I was on holiday.

So here are five ways to separate the two. The challenge is to discipline yourself to do them. I suggest you just pick one of them to begin with. Make a note in your diary to do a second thing two weeks later and so on.

So here we goooooooooooooo….

1) CREATE A SPACE TO CREATE

Create a space for work and work alone. If you’re lucky, as I am, this could be a room. For some it might be a corner of a room or a certain comfy chair in the front room. Create a space you use solely for work.

This helps your subconscious mind get in to work mode when you’re in that space dedicated for work. Personal life mode is when you’re away from it.

When I work, I work in my spare bedroom which I’ve converted to an office. When I’m writing my presentations I do that on the dinning room table. When I watch TV I sit on the edge of my sofa. When I meditate/reflect/visualise I have a specific chair in my front room for that too.

I now find whenever I sit in those specific areas my mind goes in to the right mode to do what I want to do in that space.

2) DESIGN YOUR OWN TIME TABLE

Who says we must start work at 9.00 am and finish at 5.00 pm (or whatever your work hours are). Design your own time table that suits you.

I didn’t design my own timetable all at once, it evolved over the years and I now work unusual hours. Nevertheless I get all my work done (most of the time).

Typically on week days, I’m up about 5.30 am and I start work at 6.00 am and finish about 7.00 pm and yet I only do a 7.5 hour day (8 hours max), how? I take long breaks that suit me.

I take my first long break at about 7.00 am until about 9.00 am. During that time I do my daily exercise, my ablutions, I have breakfast and some quality ‘me’ time where I meditate.

My next long break starts about 11.45 am until 2.15 pm. During that time I prepare lunch, eat it, go for a walk and have a power nap.

The next break starts about 4.30 pm until about 5.30 pm when I prepare my evening meal, eat it and have a little ‘me’ time.

I rarely work later than 7.00 pm, that’s when I start to wind down. Bedtime for me is about 10 pm.

As long as I hit my deadlines and get my work done it doesn’t matter when I work and when I have my personal time. But I distinguish between the two.

For you it might be different, you might have to work certain hours due to meetings you may have to attend or to fit in with the people you work with.

But play with your time table and try to create a routine that suits you and fits in with your domestic needs as well.

By the way, during your breaks do your best to spend some time outside. Unless it rains I go for a 40 minute or so walk every day.

3) SET BOUNDARIES

My family and friends know my work hours and my personal hours but they didn’t when I first started. They used to think, because I worked from home all I did was sit around lounging all day. They’d call me for a chat on a morning, which is nice but I usually make my business phone calls on a morning. I had to educate them by telling them just because I’m at home doesn’t mean I’m not ‘at work’.

Also, if you have a work space, you can let them know when you are at your work space not to disturb you.

By the same token, make time for your family and friends. Especially make time for the people you live with which might include at least an hour in the evening to watch television together or do some other social activity.

By the way, I’m well aware how boundaries can blur especially if you also have children at home, you can only do your best.

Lastly on this point, the person you need to discipline the most to keep those boundaries is… YOU :)

4) BE AT ONE WITH THE FORCE… SORRY, I MEANT YOUR LUNCH

I’m amazed how many people work through their lunch, DON’T!! This is YOUR TIME, do nothing at this time but eat your food. Be mindful of every mouthful. For each morsel feel the textures, the taste and the aroma. Being mindful of what we’re eating when we eat it grounds us, it calms us and, as a bonus, it helps with digestion.

It’s a complete rest from work, this is YOUR TIME.

5) USE YOUR COMMUTE TIME WISELY

This didn’t even cross my mind until several of my clients mentioned it.

Before we worked from home we’d commute to work. What did you do during that commute time? You travelled. If you were on a train you might have done some work but you certainly didn’t when you went by other modes of transport.

I’m hearing of so many people who are now working from home and the time they used to use to commute they now use to catch up with work.

Why use this time ‘extra’ time for work? Ok, you might use some of it for work but also use some (or all of it) for yourself. For your personal life. Why not have an extra 30 minutes in bed, or spend it with your partner or children, or read a book, or… whatever makes your heart sing.

You have some extra time here DON’T spend it all on work.

EASILY SAID THAN DONE

I know what I’ve suggested is easily said than done, as I said at earlier, just choose one of my suggestions and focus on doing just that.

I hope I’ve been of help, if so, maybe you can help me. I’ve always wondered, if you work from home and you’re sick, do you have to go to the office #justaskingforafriend :)