How to switch off when you work from home

If you work outside your home, whether that be an office or workshop, your day is pretty much mapped out for you. One of the advantages of a routine like this is that the lines between work and home don’t get blurred.  For people how work from home however, leaving work at work can be difficult. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many advantages to working from home:

  1. no long commutes
  2. no queuing at the coffee shop
  3. no having to put up with *that* annoying colleague.

But when you work from home, it’s more difficult to switch off at the end of the day, and you can end up thinking about work when you should be relaxing on your sofa with a glass of wine.

Here are some tips that might help you:

1. Create a dedicated workspace

Instead of working at the kitchen table, try to establish a designated work area. If you don’t have space in your house for an office, even finding a place for a desk is a great idea. Try to make your work area somewhere you’ll feel comfortable and make sure you’ve got lots of natural light – that will make such a difference to your overall well-being.

If you just don’t have any space and you need to work at the kitchen table, try to set it up with everything you need at the beginning of the day and pack it away again at the end of the day. Clear out a cupboard that you can pop everything into or put it all in a backpack and put it away.

It’s tempting to leave everything out when you need it again the next day but setting it up and packing it away again will mark the beginning and the end of your workday in your brain. If the to-do list is out of sight, it’s out of mind too! 

2. Close your web browser at the end of the day

Closing all your tabs at the end of the day tells your brain it’s time to switch off too! The physical act of clicking “close” helps your brain switch off. If you use the same web sites each day, create bookmarks for them, then you can just open them up really easily each morning.

As well as your browser tabs, close down your email client (if it’s separate), then switch off work email notifications on your phone too.  

3. Draw up a to-do list at the end of each day

At the end of the day, review what you’ve completed and what’s outstanding, then transfer the list of outstanding tasks to the next day’s to-do list along with the other items you need to get done (don’t forget to put your to-do list out of sight until you need it the next day). This is a huge part of my switch off routine.

4. Stay in routine

Start and finish work at the same time each day.  Take regular breaks – coffee, lunch, quick walk, etc. When you finish work (at the same time each day remember) do something to mark the end of your workday. Take the puppies for a walk (yep that’s me!), do some exercise, read a chapter of your book, have a glass of wine while you prepare dinner…you get the idea!

Like I said before, it can be hard to leave work at work when you work from home, but if you implement some of these ideas, you might just find it easier to switch off and then you’ll be happier and more productive!

Marie Robertson-King, Head Empress, Empress of Order

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