By now, most of us have adjusted to working from home. But have we gotten too comfortable? Do you find yourself leaving your laptop open 24/7? Are you checking emails while eating dinner and watching Netflix? Are you texting with co-workers at all hours? Here’s a couple techniques to find balance and create boundaries between work and home, even in a tiny apartment.
Designate a Zone
For the first week, I definitely worked from the couch in yoga pants… Okay fine, pajamas. I’d stumble out of bed, make some coffee, plop down on the couch and open my laptop. Eventually evening would come and I’d move my laptop from my lap to my coffee table, heat up some dinner and sit back down in the same spot. PING! “Well I’ll just answer this email quickly…” Two hours later, I’d still be doing, “just one last thing.” My life was out of balance and something needed to change.
After a bit of internet research, it was clear I wasn’t alone. As much as I enjoyed the DIY videos about converting the guest room into an office, they weren’t much help to someone in a 900SF one-bedroom apartment. Instead, I designated a rarely-used two square-foot corner of my kitchen island and a counter stool as my new work zone. My laptop and a small bin live there and I use that spot only for work. It gives me the feeling of entering and leaving a “place of work” that helps me maintain balance while working remotely.
Establish a Ritual
For me, it’s the act of opening and closing my laptop in my designated corner of the kitchen. I leave it open during breaks, phone calls, etc. so the act of closing feels like I’m “closing up shop” on my workday. While this might be enough for me, I recognize it’s not the same for everyone. Maybe you need to put your security badge on at the start of the day and remove it at the end?
The best start/end workday ritual I’ve heard in the pandemic was from the coworker of a woman at a large tech company. Every morning, she got dressed, put on her badge and got in her car. She’d back the car out of the drive, go around the block, return home and pretend to swipe in at her garage door. In the evening, she’d similarly mimic her usual leaving work routine. Your routine should be whatever helps you feel a sense of balance and separation between work time and home time.
Whether you go big or small, I hope you find these two techniques helpful in resetting your work vs. home life boundaries if they’ve gotten away from you.