One of my biggest challenges while working from home is being able to fully disconnect on weekends or days off. The reality of the situation is: you live where you work. If I worked outside of the home I doubt this would be a problem. But when you work and live in the same place it can get tough to disconnect. I’ll find myself with a little free time and instead of relaxing, I’ll go into my office and work. I’m no expert, but here are some tips that have worked for me.
1. Have a Dedicated Work Environment
Whether you have an office or you work at your kitchen table, create a work environment. For example, I do have an office, but I’m also in here when I’m not working because it’s where my main computer is. But when I’m doing design work I have a file folder out with my projects in it. I also have a little notebook that keeps me on track. These are things that are only out when I’m in work mode.
2. Clean Up
In addition to creating a work environment, clean it up when you’re done for the day/week. When I’m done working I put my file away and clear off my desk so I’m not glancing at it. If I see my design project file out, I may end up going through it and then start working. Same with Kintage. All of the inventory is safely tucked out of sight and when I’m not packing/shipping orders I try to make sure the supplies is put away. So just take a couple of minutes to clear your workspace when you’re done so you aren’t tempted to get back to work.
3. Email: Keep Out!
When I’m working my email is always open in a tab out of habit although I’m trying to get into a habit of checking it less frequently to increase my productivity. But when I’m not working I do my best to close it so I can’t see any emails coming in. Honestly, it makes me kind of anxious, but if I’m not planning on working that day then there is no reason to be checking it. Checking my email on days off leads to either me being stressed out because there is something to do OR me working on a much needed day off. If your work and personal email are one in the same, think about getting a separate work email.
4. Turn Off Email Notifications
I did this a few months ago and my productivity sky rocketed. This is part of tip #4. Having my phone go off every time an email comes in is distracting and I just cannot ignore the beeping. So I stopped my phone from automatically checking email. If you have an iphone go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar -> Fetch New Data. Then toggle the “push” setting to “off” and the “fetch” setting to “manually”. Now your phone will only check for new emails when you go into your mail app. Let’s not be dramatic here, but this changed my life. I get probably 50+ emails a day, that was a lot of checking email.
5. Tie Up Loose Ends
I don’t know if this will work with every situation, but it’s something I just recently realized. At the end of the day (especially on Friday!) my plan is to get to a good stopping point on all projects and to check in with all clients I’m working with. Something as simple as giving a client an update and then ending the email with a friendly “Have a good weekend & I look forward to working more on this next week!” signals that you’re done for the week so they’re less likely to email you or look for a response over the weekend.
These tips have really helped me to just step away from work when working from home. If you work from home I’d love to hear any tips or advice you have, too!