As a seasoned work-from-homer (10+ years), here are a few practices I’ve used to disconnect from work, especially in the beginning of my work-from-homing...
- Close all the open apps and browser windows. Let the weekend start fresh. You can bookmark everything into a folder called “Not until Monday” and reopen them all in a fell swoop. Until then, they’re a no go.
- If you can avoid it, don’t be in or near your workspace. If you’re working from a dining room table or shared space, then like your browser tabs, pick everything up and carefully place it in a box labeled “Not until Monday.”
- Don’t wear the same shoes. It’s subtle, yet effective. If you’re like me, I wear a couple of pairs regularly. I have a practice of getting fully dressed every day - including shoes - so the psychological trigger of wearing similar clothes or following a similar habit has a major impact on my mode of thinking and being.
- Start your day differently. If your *workday* starts with coffee, reading the news, and social media, then flip everything around and make it different. Change the location you sit at to read or change the order of events. If you normally drink coffee, consider tea. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to do as much as it is that you choose to do something different. Like wearing the same shoes, disrupting the pattern is a big deal.
- Get outside right away. If you’ve spent all week in your house then consider getting out of your house to break the pattern and routine and catapult yourself into a new mindset. Unless you need to stay confined to your house, then get out right away and change the direction the ball gets rolling in the morning.
- Set a time limit on all work conversations with your partner. It is near impossible to spend an entire hard-working week and not continue to have work on your mind on the weekend. So instead of pretending like you’ll avoid it all weekend, just set a hard time limit with your partner as to how much you will talk about it. Each of them has permission to “call time” after 2/5/10 minutes. If you need to “let it out” then give it a few more minutes and then let it go.
- If you haven’t had the chance, exercise. There are immense benefits to exercise. Many of which include stress reduction, circulation, moving toxins, reducing inflammation throughout the body, and overall good. YouTube is chock-full of at-home workouts, yoga sessions, and meditation. And if you have kids, you’re in luck! There is a lot of content right now on ways to engage your kids for all of that.
- Temporarily, change what you’re watching and listening to. You’re probably sensing a trend here: change the routine. If you’re watching The Office during the week, watch something different (like “Parks and Rec”). It doesn’t matter what it is, but mix it up and give the weekend a special change from the workweek.
- Slow down (and do less). I know weekends are a great time to get a lot done, but take the opportunity to decompress. I’m a triathlete and I do my long low-intensity workouts on the weekends. If you just can’t manage a two-day break, then take one day to relax and one day to get sh*t done (Saturday/Sunday). Working from home can easily create a seven-day intensive that seems to never end.
- Keep your personal and professional calendars separate, and only use the personal one on the weekend. If you’re like me, you live and die by your calendar. This presents a conundrum when your professional and personal calendars are mixed up and you’re supposed to get away for the weekend. If you use Google Calendar or something of the like, you can create a personal and turn off (hide) your professional calendar. If you need even more support, put your phone away and ask your partner for what’s next.
If you’re not used to working from home, boundaries can be fuzzy in the beginning. It’s okay. Do your best. While things may be chaotic and the need to get more done is driving you, honor and acknowledge it. I've found, when I could identify the cost of “burning the midnight oil” was taking time from what really mattered, the switch flipped.
Lastly, breathe. Even when there’s “no time,” there’s always time for 5 deep breaths.