Another year of COVID-19, another year of working from home. With more people having their own stories of how they or their friends or family members have worked all hours of the day at home, more of us are realising the importance of separating work from home.
In this blog, we give you three simple ways to keep work and home life separate—tried and tested by yours truly!
1. CREATE SPACE
It might be tempting to sit up in bed with a laptop to do your work, but this is a bad habit to set up. For starters, your bed won’t be the sanctuary you want and need anymore. You’ll also find yourself sitting up at very strange hours. Or, you’ll be doing work when you’re supposed to be doing something relaxing like reading a book.
The solution? Set a physically different space to do your work. That might be a home office, if you have the space. It could also be a nook, a space in a room, or even a hard-to-use corner of an open-plan living space.
You can also create a distinct space using the senses. You could paint the space a different colour, for example (bright yellow and classic grey would be very much on-trend). You could scent the room with a fragrance you don’t mind associating with work (reed diffusers and scented décor are perfect for this). You could even have certain music playing in the room, be it a genre, album, or artist (again, that you don’t mind associating with work).
By the way, when you personalise your space make sure you’re not personalising it to such an extent that you’re changing your workspace to something too homey or recreational. (It might be good to save that tabletop pool set you got for Christmas for another room of the house.)
2. KEEP TIME
Home will always be work if you’re always working when you’re at home!
The solution is elusively simple: work your hours. If you work odd hours, monitor them so you don’t spend half a week working for free. If you work overtime, make sure you get paid for it!
Having a clock on your phone and computer is one thing. But making sure you have a clock visible at eye level somewhere in your room can really help as well. The clock doesn’t have to be on your desk, either. It can be on a wall, on a buffet and hutch, or on a ladder bookcase which provides storage for your workspace.
3. TAKE BREAKS
Sometimes it’s hard to remember, or we get in the mindset that we’re just too busy to take a break (hence why some of us work through our lunch breaks). Not only is that unhealthy, it’s plain wrong. You might be spending more time working when you do that, but your productivity will be much higher if you allow your brain the time to refresh.
Here’s where tools can come in to help you take breaks. It could be a digital reminder set on your phone, a verbal reminder from someone else working at home, or really anything, as long as it works for you. Before you get up to leave your space, put your computer on sleep mode if you can (or at least use functions like muting the sound and toggling the “break mode” some browsers have to help you out).
Finally, and perhaps most important of all, make sure you physically exit your workspace when you take your break. Do not return until you’re going back to work.
Where do you go, you might ask? Anywhere out of the room is good, but somewhere out of the house might be even better. In my experience, best of all is taking a walk through a local greenspace, preferably with friends or family for company. Try setting aside a full hour for your lunch break (instead of just half an hour) to allow you the fullest time to enjoy this break. This will extend your workday, but it’s worth it!