Building Boundaries while Working Remotely

This post was originally published on Morgan’s personal site here.

Working from home provides tremendous flexibility. Unfortunately, it also blurs the lines between areas of life that were once separate. Because you’re working and living from the same space, it can feel like one flows seamlessly into the other. This can lead to depriving yourself of a true rest and separation from ‘always being on’.

I’ve found a few rituals to be specially useful in signaling to your mind that it’s time to switch gears. These work for me, but I’d love to hear other suggestions.

Put Your Pants On

When most interaction involves being on-screen, it’s tempting to only ‘prepare’ for what people see (ie nice shirt and jacket, no pants). Changing into a complete outfit for work (shoes too) and changing out of it when you’re done is powerful. It signals to your body/mind whether it’s go-time or not. Our physical world often drives our mental state. The ceremony behind ‘getting ready for work’ is about way more than how you look.

Exit Programs

Literally exit work programs on your computer (command + q on a mac). Because computers get used for work and recreation, you need to remove programs from sight.

Slack, email, calendar, asana, text editor (for software engineers), and more. Exit the program.

Segment ‘People’

If you use Chrome, use the ‘people’ function. Most people don’t notice it along the top menu. This allows you to isolate work and personal sessions and web history. Not only is it a great privacy feature, it’ll be especially useful if you’re a ‘tab-junky’.

Delete Work Apps on Phone

Remove email, slack, and other work related apps from your phone completely. You run the risk of being too digitally connected, not disconnected.

While you are at it, you can delete social media apps too. It probably won’t help transition away from work but could address anxiety issues or wasted time.

You run the risk of being too digitally connected, not disconnected.

Schedule an Alarm

Schedule an alarm to start and end your day (and probably one for waking up, if that’s not typically your speed). Evergreen alarms are a great tool during normal work situation but especially when working from home. You set it, and forget it.

Pack Your Stuff

Load and unload your work equipment. Having kids is a great forcing function for this (but you don’t need to endure that amount of pain, frustration, and financial burden to gain these benefits).

  • Shut your laptop
  • Wrap up your charger
  • Place everything in your bag
  • Put your bag wherever you normally would when getting home from office.
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