As technology developed and social media made its way to the mainstream, time spent on our phones and computers began to steadily increase. There was more to look at and scroll through and there was more information to be gathered both intellectually and socially from these platforms. As dating applications came on the scene time spent swiping on our phones increased as well. We’ve seen an overwhelming increase the past few years in the amount of time we all dedicate to various aspects of technology each day. Technology has also given us access to work while out of the office. Email can now be accessed while we’re in the car, out to dinner, on the weekends and evenings. People can call us at all hours of the day, expecting us to answer knowing we have our phones on us at all times. Prior to the shift to working from home during the global pandemic, it was incredibly difficult to disconnect and set boundaries between work and home. Now that work is mostly taking place at home, disconnecting and setting boundaries has become even more difficult. Regardless of how disciplined we are as individual’s unplugging and separating work from home at a reasonable time can prove incredibly challenging. There are activities and rituals we can implement into our daily routines that can allow for a more effective way to disconnect from work at the end of the day.
Implement Transition Activities
It may be difficult but try to think back to our work life prior to the pandemic. When we’d leave home in the morning, we’d take some form of transportation to get to the office. When we’d leave work at the end of the day, we’d take some form of transportation to get back home. This period of time, a transition period that allows us to de-escalate our feelings from the workday, is now missing from our daily routines. This time period is important in order to communicate to our mind and body that the workday is over and it’s time to relax. Transition time can be taking a walk, taking a shower, running an errand, listening to music/a podcast, etc. The most effective way to utilize a transition period is by getting outside in some capacity.
It’s often difficult to disconnect from work when we feel there’s still more to do or we weren’t able to get enough done. Making a list of all that you were able to accomplish during the day as well as a to do list for the next day can allow you to feel more organized and in control of your schedule. Setting expectations for the day is incredibly important. Creating these lists allows you to look back on your to do list and compare it to your accomplishment list in order to truly see just how much you’ve done in the day. This can create the opportunity for you to give yourself permission to end work for the day and relax.
Enforce Normal Work Hours
With the implementation of technology, we have allowed access to ourselves and our emails at hours outside of typical work hours. Just because we can access our emails outside of work hours doesn’t mean we’re obligated to answer them. Ask yourself what would happen if an email went unanswered? Typically, the emails coming through are not urgent, yet we feel an obligation to respond. Challenge yourself to only responding to emails within work hours. This may give others permission to do the same leading to a healthier more effective work environment. Boundaries around work are incredibly important in order to prevent burnout and increase efficiency.
Implement Physical Boundaries
It is important to stress just how important it is to separate your work and relaxation environments in the home. This doesn’t have to be as drastic as having an entire room as a home office. Implementing physical boundaries such as working at the counter and eating at the table or putting down a tablecloth for meals and taking it away for work can be immensely helpful. If you do the majority of your work in the living room, it’s important to keep all work talk out of the bedroom in order to create that divide. Small changes like these can make a big difference.
Take a Technology Break
Most of us immediately jump on our phones when we end the workday. Updating ourselves on Instagram or scrolling through the news becomes all consuming. While this habit is difficult outside of working from home it’s even harder to get away from screens in the current environment. Putting your phone down, talking a walk, listening to an audiobook/podcast/music, or reading are all great ways to give your eyes a break from the constant blue light and allowing yourself to truly relax.
If you’ve found yourself struggling with working from home and establishing boundaries, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!