Work and Home - How to Separate the Two
This post feels about, oh I don't know... a year too late? But to be honest, I needed to learn about this the hard way. I've spent this entire year in quarantine working over time, all over my apartment leading me to get way too overly emotionally attached to my job. When articles, YouTube videos and even friends tried to give advice about how to work from home, I politely declined their input. Working from home? Not commuting? Turning the computer off and the TV on at the end of the day with no lag time in between? Sign me up.
What really happened was that I started working more, which resulted in me staying up late to watch TV and oversleeping until, some days, minutes before I was supposed to log into work. My home life and my work life completely intertwined and before I knew it I was just a morphing of the two. My insomnia was off the charts, I was always on edge and I had about 3 too many mental breakdowns. All this to say is, you have to separate the two and I think this is important to practice whether you're working from home or not. Here's some tips to get you there:
Set a timer on your phone for when to log in and when to log off of work. You might feel like you can control yourself and not log in ahead of time and not stay on longer than your set hours, but let me tell you - that's not a control that most people have. If you do, all the more power to you. For me, I had to set this limit and put it on a timer. I still feel a twinge of stress some mornings, anxious to open my computer before 9:30am. I still have to force myself to close my computer at 5:30pm. Here's the thing: every thing can wait until tomorrow. Well, unless you're a doctor, but that's a whole other type of life they're living and they're heroes so let's just get back to us regular folk okay? Everything. EVERYTHING can wait until tomorrow. No task is sacred enough to risk your mental health. So take out your phone, open the reminders app and put yourself in that time crunch my friend.
Do something "home related" immediately after your workday is over. This has probably been the most efficient tip for me. Every day, when you close down your computer, choose something that has nothing to do with work and do it right away. Cook dinner, take a walk, write in your journal, whatever it might be. Make sure it lasts at least 10 minutes. For me, it's taking a shower. It's perfect. I'm literally washing away the stress of that day. I'm telling you, it works like a charm.
Have a separate work space than your "hang out" spaces. Okay, this is probably the most obvious of all the suggestions. It's also the one that I struggle with the most. Here's the thing though - you don't have to have one area. I work at a start up and while we do have desks, it is an open concept office. So, we can sit wherever we want. I don't think you have to pick one area of your apartment or house to work, but maybe try not to work in places like your bed or your TV. Those are sacred spaces that you do not want to bring bad juju into. Next thing you know, you're crunching numbers on your pillow, staring at the ceiling, miserable.
Take a break. I honestly don't think I took a break at all in for the first 8 months I was working from home. If I did, it was 5 minutes to eat some tortilla chips and then it was right back to work. I'm telling you - take a break. I think working from home makes us in some way feel like we are taking a break. I mean, we're home. We can kick our feet up, wear sweats, eat Tostino's pizza rolls while our camera's are off in that product meeting, but let's face it, we're still on the clock and we still need to separate our brains from the work day. Read a book, take a walk or do what I do and literally spend 30 minutes petting your cats. It seriously makes a difference.
Well, that's all I have up my sleeves. Again, I do not follow this to a T. I'm still struggling. To be honest I hope I don't have to deal with this for long. For years I dreamed of the flexibility of working from home but, I gotta say, it is not all that it's cracked up to be. I miss my work friends. I miss the clear separation between work and the comfort of my home. Some days... I even miss commuting. Working from home is nice from time to time, but I really hope the regularity of it ends soon. Which means I hope we are all vaccinated and can be around each other asap. In the meantime though, we're still in it, hopefully in the home stretch but we're still in it. Got any tricks up your sleeve? Lord knows I could use the help.