Work from Home? Three Ways to Keep Work from Taking Over

When I was a little girl, my family came up with a motto: “We like it when we’re home.  We do not like it when we are not home.”  I am a home-body through and through.  I love working from home.  I love working late at night when my body is naturally more awake.  I love being able to eat lunch at home.  I love being able to take a break by taking a nap on the couch.

But as I’ve been working from home more and more lately, I’ve realized that I’ve been letting the boundary between work time and home time get blurry.  It’s been gradual and unintentional, but it’s resulted in a pervasive sense of anxiety.  By not giving myself permission to be “off duty” even though I didn’t physically leave the office and drive home, I wasn’t allowing myself the down time which we all need to do well at our jobs.

So, these are three things that I’ve begun doing to help myself keep those boundaries between work and home clear.

  • Decide when you are going to work from home.  Yes, it’s nice to work at odd hours if your an odd-hour kind of person, but odd hours can start turning into all-hours.  DANGER!  I’ve found that I need to decide which days I am going to work (or more specifically, which days I’m not going to work) and roughly which hours I’m going to work.  I say roughly because working from home offers great flexibility.  Still, I need to be intentional about when I start and when I end my workday.
  • Decide where you are going to work at home.  By keeping our physical work materials in one spot (at least when we’re not working), we are allowing the rest of our home to be the away-from-work space we need to rejuvenate.  No one lives at the office (or if they do, they usually don’t like it).  Don’t let the office move into the parts of your home that are for family and recreation.
  • Give yourself permission to unplug when you’re off duty.  Our laptops, smart phones, iPads, etc. have made us so dang accessible.  Yes, they bring us great convenience, but sometimes it feels like we can’t really escape from work.  So now I give myself permission on my days off to not check email.  If at all possible, I try to have one day off when I don’t even boot up the laptop.  It might feel really strange at first, but I’ve found it really, really refreshing.

Image: Salvatore Vuono

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