by Josh Millar
For many driven professionals, checking out of work is a challenge. But that disconnection from work mode is vital to our long-term success. So, how can we support a healthy division between our work time and personal time? Establishing some clear boundaries is essential. These boundaries allow us to draw a line between work and personal time, helping us to more fully recharge. Here are some strategies that can help professionals to get the right boundaries in place:
Evaluate Your Expectations
When you consistently ask yourself to accomplish 12 hours of work in a 9-hour day, you’re asking for there to be challenges when it comes to switching out of work mode. You might leave the office after 9 hours of work, but the remaining work you’d wanted to finish still looms over you. It’s no surprise that this work then often bleeds into our personal time. Whether it’s a lengthy phone call or checking emails from bed, when our expectations for our days regularly exceed our realistic capacity, it’s going to be difficult to respect the boundaries you set for yourself.
Make Some Rules
Simple, clear-cut rules make for easy boundaries. This will certainly differ from person to person, so it’s important to make the designations that work for you. Identifying certain work-free rooms can be an easy way to keep work from infiltrating your personal space at home. Perhaps it’s your living room where you usually spend time with your family or your bedroom where you need to wind down for a good night’s sleep. Labeling these as work-free spaces is a great distinction. You can even take it a step further and make these or other spaces tech-free spaces. This can help you avoid the temptation to check emails or respond to messages, and it can also help you to be more present in your personal life. You could also use the time of day instead of physical spaces. Maybe you’re on call for clients until 7pm, but after that, your phone goes on silent and is out of sight.
Design a Routine
How do you wind down after work? A routine is a great way to support healthy boundaries. Identify the things that help you transition from work mode to personal mode, and shape a routine out of them. This repeated action will start to signal to your brain that it’s time to make the switch. Maybe it’s making time for a quick overview of the following day so that you feel organized and prepared. Maybe it’s going for a run or sitting down for dinner with your family. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply choose an activity that helps define the switch from work to personal and make it a part of your daily routine.
You probably already do this in your professional life, but making commitments in our personal lives can help ensure we make the switch from work mode to personal mode. Maybe you schedule an after-work class or make plans to meet a friend for a drink. Including these things on your calendar and respecting them as much as you respect work commitments is key. Having these personal anchors in our schedules can hold us accountable for respecting the boundaries.
To be successful, you need to give yourself time to decompress and recharge so that you can show up at your best. When you’re committed to your work and have a demanding to-do list, making a clear division between work and personal can be challenging. The right balance and boundaries will differ from person to person, but it’s worth taking the time to figure out what works for you.