I’ve been working from home for nearly 6 years now. In the early days I found it really hard to leave work behind, switch off, and have some down time. There are still days like that now, if I have lots of deadlines, or I am waiting on an important email. But on the whole I have learnt ways to switch off.

With so many people working from home due to Covid-19, I am hopeful that one of the positive outcomes of this pandemic will be that companies offer their employees more flexibility, with working from home being a viable option. But it is important that we recognise the need to switch off before we burn out. How do you switch off and unwind when your office is your home?

working from home

How to switch off when working from home…

Mark the beginning and end of your day

When working in an office, the commute is normally a clear signal to the beginning and end of your day. It can also be a chance to gear up, and wind down (traffic dependant). Normally my working day starts and ends with the school run. It’s my commute if you like.

An obvious benefit to working from home is the extra time gained from having no commute. But despite best intentions, before long this time gained is lost again to work. Be strict with yourself and use your commute time to do something that marks the beginning and end of your day. Maybe it’s going for a walk round the block. Do a workout. Turn up the tunes like you would in your car and have a kitchen disco.

It’s a great way to focus your mind for the day ahead, and then to wind down and switch off at the end of that day.

Compartmentalise your life

There is always stuff to do right. It can be very distracting working from home, and easy to put off that job that you don’t want to do because you need to hoover or hang the washing out.

Set time to do those jobs. I allow half an hour before I start work and half an hour after, to do any chores that need doing and take care of life admin. That way I know I have the time to get things done, so don’t need to be distracted by them.

Remember to include time for your lunch and breaks from the screen too.

Work in the same place

In a similar way to compartmentalising your time, you need to do that to your home. I have a desk in my bedroom and I am really strict about doing my work there.

It can be really tempting to work from the sofa with Netflix on in the background. But apart from the fact it doesn’t make for the best posture and can lead to musculoskeletal problems, your place to unwind will soon become your place to work. You will soon find yourself sat on the sofa in the evening with the laptop on your lap, ignoring your other half.

It’s much easier to switch off and unwind if you can physically walk away from the place you work.

Have periods of time away from your phone

This is something I am working on being much stricter with. It’s so easy after you have finished work to respond to that email that just came in, and very quickly you are drawn back into work.

Never being able to switch off has a hugely negative impact on our welfare and our work life balance. But you need to be the person in control and setting those boundaries.

Right now, these suggestions are not always practical. Many of us are juggling a full time job from home, whilst homeschooling and entertaining the kids, with added worry of what is happening in the world right now. It’s a lot. The overwhelm is very real.

If you are finding it hard to cope, you are felling stressed and anxious, help is available. And it’s available over the phone. To find out more about telephone counselling from BetterHelp check out this article, https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/counseling/is-telephone-counseling-therapy-appropriate/.

This post is sponsored by BetterHelp

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Claire Kirby

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