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Working from home: Separating your personal and work-life

Published on Mar 20, 2021 | Last updated Apr 12, 2021 5 minute read

Working from home: Separating your personal and work-life

Is the line between your personal and work life beginning to blur? Once your home becomes your office, knowing when to close your laptop can be a challenge. Whether you live on your own, or with family or friends, it’s important to make time for yourself and the things you care about outside of work.

Keep reading for tips that will help you achieve a healthy work-life balance, especially if you’re working from home.

Work-life balance explained

In short, work-life balance is where you are able to equally prioritize the demands of your career and the demands of your personal life. Some of the common challenges of poor work-life balance include:

  • Increased responsibilities at work
  • Working long hours
  • Increased responsibilities at home
  • Having children

A good work-life balance has numerous positive effects, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout, and a greater sense of well-being. This not only benefits employees but employers, too.

Why separating your personal and work-life is essential when working from home

First, creating this healthy separation will help maintain your mental health. One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. In the workplace, your inability to create a work-life balance that works for you can lead to stress which can lead to burnout.

Quick Question: What is burnout?

According to the World Health Organization, burnout is an occupational phenomenon. (It’s not considered a medical condition.) The WHO defines burnout as chronic stress from work that has not been successfully managed. It can result in exhaustion, an increase in negative feelings towards one’s job and reduced efficiency in the workplace.

When left unaddressed, problems like stress, depression, or anxiety can feed into bigger underlying mental health issues. The good news is many employers now recognize the importance of promoting positive mental health in the workplace.

Separating your personal from your work life can also increase your work productivity. Working after regular hours is proven to actually be less productive. Many employers recognize that a healthy work-life balance can have a positive impact on overall productivity.

Employees and the separation of work and personal life

Encouraging the separation of home and work life allows you to “switch off” after work and come back raring to go. This separation helps prevent work-related stress – an issue that affects a large number of employees.

A major advantage of establishing a healthy separation between work and home is reducing burnout.

Other advantages for you and your fellow employees include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Low absenteeism
  • Less stress
  • Improved employee health and wellbeing
  • Stronger loyalty to the company

How employers can benefit from work-life balance

Embracing and encouraging a healthy work-life balance is not just beneficial to employees, the company you work for can benefit significantly from employees who separate their work life and their home life.

One benefit is reduced turnover and the costs associated with regular recruitment. Employee turnover can cost employers thousands of dollars per employee per year. Emphasizing work-life balance can help any company attract the best possible talent.

Balancing personal and work life – some helpful tips and tricks!

How employers can improve work-life balance for employees

  • Provide flexible options for parents
  • Promote working remotely
  • Insist on actual work-free vacation days
  • Encourage employees to take breaks such as taking a walk
  • Lead by example
  • Do not encourage employees to over-work

How to separate personal problems from work

  • Share your personal problem with someone you trust
  • Set boundaries
  • See if your company has a support system
  • Work in a relaxing, quiet place

How to stop thinking about work when you’re chilling at home

  • Practice self-care – that means eating healthy, exercising, spending time with loved ones and doing anything else that brings you joy!
  • Check as many to-dos as you can before the weekend. If you don’t get it done before the weekend, save it for the following week.
  • Write down your list of to-dos then walk away from it when it’s time to stop working.
  • Set aside a specific amount of time at the end of the weekend to prepare for the upcoming week. That way you don’t have to spend the whole weekend thinking about work!

How to attain work-life balance

Take time management seriously

Create a work schedule that allows you to complete tasks effectively without the need to cut into your personal time. Be sure to adhere to this schedule! Set a goal to end your online meetings on time, shut down at a certain time if you’re working from home and stick to that too. This will help you stay on track. Time management will make it less likely that your work and personal life will collide.

Communication

The key to building understanding is communication. While you might be required to work late or during the weekends on occasion, you should learn to say ‘no’ (politely of course) if it means forgoing on activities in your personal life.

Check your connections online

You’re not obligated to become “friends” with your boss, colleagues or clients on social media. (Unless it’s a part of your business.) Consider restricting your social media friend list to your friends and family outside of work. This can help maintain work-life balance.

Implement a “no phone” policy at home

For those of us with work phones, consider implementing a ‘no phone’ policy at home. There’s nothing worse than a fun time with the family being spoiled by a call from work about something that could wait until Monday, see Mental and physical wellness during a cold quarantine.

Invest in your health

Make physical and mental exercise part of your routine. A healthy body and mind allow for optimal functionality in your personal and work life. Simple things like eating healthy, going for walks and drinking water can go a long way!

Working from Home: Separating Your Personal and Work Life FAQs

How do you set boundaries when working from home?

Here are a few tips that can help you create boundaries:

  • Establish a specific workspace
  • Set your working hours
  • Take care of your health
  • Make sure to take a lunch break
  • Take your days off seriously
  • Wear something other than what you slept in

How often should I take breaks when working from home?

Everyone works differently. Play around with how often and how long your breaks are to find what works best for you. Try starting with a five-minute break every hour. And don’t forget your lunch break!

How can I maintain my privacy even when working from home?

Keep your personal devices separate from your work devices. If you are doing some personal like checking email or social media, do so on your personal device. Avoid using your work device for things like online shopping, planning trips or working on your side-hustle.