Home Office: 2 Approaches To Separate Work From Life

Diana Bernardo

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For those of us working from home during the quarantine, every day looks like this:

  • Wake up
  • Sit in front of the computer
  • Work
  • Get distracted
  • Work some more
  • Finish work
  • Stay in the exact same place, staring at the same computer, but now entertaining ourselves (watching Netflix, video chatting with friends, checking social media, or something like that)

With a shortage of something more interesting to do with our evenings it is easy to drag the working day a few more hours than we normally would in the office. But should we really be diving into work and neglecting our personal lives?

But where is the line between professional and personal life? When does work stop and when do we get to switch off for the day?

The answer depends on our exact working conditions but, generally speaking, if we have some flexibility, there are two approaches that can be followed.

1. Work the exact same hours as in the office

If we would normally be in the office from 9am to 5pm, we should also be in front of our computer at 9am every day, ready to start working.

This approach requires us to act the same way as we would in the office, meaning that we need to be productive during these hours: no social media, no long cooking, no doing the laundry, no chatting with friends or petting the dog for half an hour.

But when the clock hits 5pm, we are free. We walk out of the (home) office, even if we stay in the exact same place. And we will only be back the next day, at 9am sharp.

2. Defining goals for the day

This approach requires a bit more flexibility, but also more responsibility.

Most of us are aware of our average working speed, so we should use this to calculate what we can get done in one day. We should finish everyday making a list of tasks for the next day and start the following day by working our way through that list. There is no to start at the same time as we would in the office — but we can, of course.

We can also let ourselves be distracted during the day, but we know we will not be able to close the working day without completing the tasks you gave ourselves. This means we can finish quite late, but we can also organize our days as it suits us better.

The nicest perk of this approach is that we might also finish before the time we were supposed to leave the office — and if this happens then, by all means, we leave the office. This is why this approach stimulates productivity, as the faster the work is done, the sooner we are free.

Both approaches are valid and more fitting to some personalities than others. Whichever way we chose to work, the important takeaway is that we need to set boundaries. We might be working from home, but we are still multidimensional humans. Let’s make sure we don’t ignore any part of us.

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