One of the big themes of 2020 was how many people ended up having to work from home.
Being able to work from home has been a desired perk for a lot of people and many got their wish in 2020. But for some, working from home came with some added challenges, like everyone else in their household would also be home too.
Whether you’ve been WFH for years or it’s a new thing for you, shutting off from work can be difficult, especially if you don’t have an office space you can dedicate just to work that also has a door.
And even if you do have a dedicated workspace, work often pops up throughout the day with notifications on your phone (“Hey, you got a sale!”) or on social media. It doesn’t take much to pull you back into work.
Here are a few ways to set boundaries when it comes to working from home and how to disconnect from work so you can enjoy a healthier work life balance.
“You didn’t leave your 9-to-5 to open a 24/7.”
When you’re working for yourself, it’s up to you when you stop working.
I got an email the other week from Jasmine Williams who helps creatives transition into freelance. In her email she was talking about how we’re shifting into a new normal this year, especially when we’re talking about this whole work-life balance.
The quote in her email that really hit me was when she said, “You didn’t leave your 9-to-5 to open a 24/7.”
Oof, that made a lot of sense.
If you work for yourself, it’s great being able to do what you want, when you want. However, it can be a slippery slope because your work life can blur easily with your personal life. Working off and on throughout the day can keep you preoccupied and distracted which can impact your relationships, your sleep and other activities in your life. If you don't actually disconnect from work (even if we love what we do), you don't give your mind the proper break it needs to decompress after work so you can feel recharged and refreshed the next day.
Remember to set boundaries when it comes to your work hours so you have dedicated time to enjoy other things in your life and be present with family and friends.
Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you should.
Just because you CAN work anytime of day when you work for yourself, doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you CAN work weekends or evenings, doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you CAN work 10 hour days, doesn’t mean you should.
Finding a work schedule that works for you and your life takes some time to figure out and even then, it can keep changing because of other priorities in your life.
When you work for yourself, you’re no longer held to the “I need to work 40+ hours” mindset that generally comes with a regular job. You get to decide when you start and stop work. And when you take time off.
But sometimes it’s hard to actually stop working.
If it's difficult for you to remember to stop working, set a daily reminder on your calendar or a daily alarm on your phone so you get notified when it's time to call it a day. And remember don't hit the "snooze" button either!
Transition after work
When I was working my corporate job, I’d hop on the bus or the train and head home or to the gym for a workout. This 45-60 minute commute gave me time to mentally and physically shift out of work mode and into my personal life.
I no longer had the a commute between work and home when I started working from home. I soon realized I needed to incorporate a transition time into my routine to signal to my brain “Hey, it’s time to stop working," because if I didn’t, I’d keep sneaking in work the rest of the evening and continually feel distracted and stressed.
So once 5pm hits, I do one or more of the following to relax and decompress from work:
- Do yoga
- Go on a walk around the neighborhood
- Read a book
- Watch something on YouTube not work related
Once I started doing this, I was honestly really surprised what a few minutes did to help me unwind and disconnect from the workday.
If you need time to transition out of work mode like me, write out a few activities you like doing that will help you relax after work. Then schedule those activities into your week so when the end of your work day comes, you have something to help you transition into your evening at home.
A few bonus tips to help you disconnect from work
- Turn off email and business related app notifications on your phone
- Shut down your computer when you’re done with work
- Put away any projects or work you have out
- Disconnect from social media
- Write out your to-do list for the next day
- Dedicate a time when you'll stop working and do your best to stick to it
So how do you disconnect from work? Let me know in the comments below.