Most people believe that the ability to work from home provides the flexibility for better work-life balance. But, for remote workers, the lack of separation between the working and living space makes it difficult to prevent your job from bleeding into your personal life.
Many of us have been conditioned to use the commute home as a chance to decompress and ease out of work mode. Since you don’t have a commute, creating a ritual for the end of the workday can help to provide the all-important signal to your brain that it’s quitting time. If you have a dedicated room that acts as your home office, it can be as simple as exiting the room and shutting the door.
If your work and living spaces overlap, though, simply shutting down your equipment probably won’t be enough to prevent work stress from intruding on your home life. Seeing that unfinished report sitting on your desk or looking at piles of paperwork keeps your mind focused on the work even when you’re trying to relax. Or there is the temptation to finish one more task or respond to one more email.
As part of your end-of-the-day ritual, take a few minutes to clear your workspace as much as possible. Put away your work and all desktop items into a drawer, closet or storage unit so that it’s not a visible reminder of the tasks that you need to do.
Then leave the apartment for a short time. Go for a walk, run an errand, grab a cup of coffee, hit the gym or just walk around the block. The physical act of exiting and returning will send a signal to your brain that you have left the work day behind and now it’s time to relax. Importantly, when you return, your space will be clear of your work-related responsibilities so that you can unwind and enjoy your down time.