Many of us have been working from home for quite some time. As some of us transition back to working on-site and others continue to work remotely, the challenge to balance work and life is huge. When our workspaces and homes overlap, we’re often “always-on” and never far from our laptops. This constant tension can lead to anxiety, stress, and feeling like we never have downtime.
A few years ago, we all had a morning routine that included getting ready for work, eating breakfast, and a commute of some kind. We might have checked out a new restaurant during our lunch hour or gone for a walk with co-workers. And to signal the end of the workday, we might have attended a happy hour or traveled back home, where we had a chance to unwind with music or our favorite podcast.
Recently though, we work where we live. The old routines don’t apply anymore, and we find ourselves jumping out of bed for our first Zoom call or stepping away from email to make dinner and then finishing up our day while binge-watching Netflix. The boundaries between work and life are no longer clear.
Many of us are missing the small rituals that signaled the start and end of our workday. I’ve worked with many clients recently who are dealing with anxiety, stress, and the sense that they have no downtime. Creating small rituals has helped them establish better boundaries and reclaim their time as their own.
The concept is to create a simple and repeatable ritual that forms a boundary between work and life. For example:
At the end of your workday, go for a walk. Even ten minutes around the block is enough to give your mind and body the signal that you are transitioning into your evening.
Put on different clothes! Dress up a little for the Zoom calls and put on sweats at the end of your day.
Get into a flow state for a few minutes by meditating, playing a musical instrument, journaling, or creating art.
Connect with your family. Play some video games with your kids (or even better, go outside and run around), invite your partner to share the best parts of your day, or cook a meal.
Additional tips to help you separate work from personal life:
Have a designated workspace. Refrain from doing your work in areas where you relax, if possible.
Structure your workday based on hours or tasks. It is easy to get carried away with work from home or distracted from work. To ensure you are putting in a typical day’s work, establish a list of goals to complete that day (without carrying them over), or record the hours you are working to ensure you are putting in no more or less than a workday constitutes.
These are some ideas to get you started. Feel free to create your own and explore how impactful these rituals can be in creating a healthier work/life balance. If you’d like help designing a practice of your own, I’d be happy to help in a free coaching session.