Susan Potter
software: Created / Updated

Work-from-Home Work and Home Separation Tips

Since 2006 I have been working from home (starting part-time) and ever since March (2020) friends have been asking me to write an article about how I separate my work from home life when working from home (WFH).

Define your work space
Whether it's a dedicated room or a corner, make your work space a place you can focus. Those with space constraints can define spaces with movable room dividers or furniture like a colleague of mine with a studio in Manhattan used to do.
Embrace the power of routine
A consistent routine is your secret weapon. If you can't set specific work hours, consider setting work hour ranges to keep within as much as possible. Ensure you communicate deviations to your typical work hours with coworkers as needed. Setting clear availability expectations with peers, reports, and management increases trust and respect. Use chat statuses to show when you're unavailable, and set up autoresponders for longer periods of unavailability.
Set boundaries
It's time to draw a line in the sand and establish some ground rules. Communicate your work schedule and expectations to your household with unwavering clarity. Let them know when you need uninterrupted focus and when you're open for interaction. This sets the stage for a harmonious coexistence and improves your productivity. My spouse and I review our calendars at least once a week.
Transition in and out
Find rituals that help you mentally shift to or from work mode. In German, the word for such an afternoon transition is Feierabend. I kickstart my workday with a walk while listening to work-related podcasts, fueling my mind with big picture work insights. Then, I review my work journal entry from the end of the previous day and plan my day. I end the work day by writing a journal entry to capture my ideas plus next steps and check my calendars for the next day. When I do this, I can clear my mind of work considerations knowing I can return where I left off the next working day. With transition rituals that make sense for your work and life, you can conquer each workday too.
Dedicate "me time"
While juggling work responsibilities and personal commitments, focus on self-care. Set aside a dedicated slot each day for "me time" to recharge and rejuvenate. It could be reading a book, taking a soothing bath, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in a hobby you love.

I hope one or more of these tips will help you reclaim your work-life balance during these uncertain times and I would welcome you share your suggestions on Mastodon with me. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a dedicated workspace at home? Try to set up a separate office area if possible, with minimal distractions. Having physical separation can help you mentally shift into “work mode”. With tighter space restrictions, you may need to get creative with room dividers and furniture that can adapt for different purposes.
How do I stay focused and avoid procrastination? Set a schedule, take breaks, limit distractions, and use productivity tools to stay on track. Staying organized and setting priorities is key.
How do I avoid working too much? Set work hours and stick to them. When your workday is done, step away and do non-work activities. Avoid checking emails outside of work hours.
How do I stay connected with coworkers remotely? Schedule video calls to talk face-to-face, communicate frequently via chat/email, and reach out proactively. Virtual meetings help maintain connections.
How do I avoid burnout? Take regular breaks, limit working hours, and maintain work-life boundaries. Make time for self-care. Watch for signs of burnout like lack of motivation or energy.
How do I stay motivated? Set meaningful goals, reward yourself for successes, and vary your tasks. Connect with coworkers for accountability and support.
How do I manage distractions at home? Minimize distractions by silencing phone notifications and closing unneeded apps and tabs. Set boundaries with others at home when working. You can also take excursions to the public library or favorite coffeeshop. My local library system allows me to schedule up to three hours a week in a conference room. Alternative coworking spaces may provide similar services for a fee. Reserve such rooms or facilities when you know it will be noisey or you need to create a professional impression (such as client meetings or meetings with executives).
How do I ensure I'm still productive? Track what you accomplish daily and stay focused on top priorities. Proactively communicate any roadblocks to your manager and/or team as appropriate.

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