How To Stop Working When You Work From Home
When you were working in an office outside of your home, it probably was very clear for when you stop working. When your working hours were over you packed your stuff and went home. However when you are working from home either as employee or self-employed it”s a different story. And you may wonder how to stop working when you work from home?
It’s a three step process. But it all starts with your mindset.
- You need to fist see the need for stop working when working from home.
- Focus on the benefit being able to stop working when working from home.
- Have measure in place to break the habit of working constantly.
Here we will discus 20 tips that will help you to stop working when working from home and to make a clear distinction between your work and private life.
So let’s first start by giving you reasons why you should want to be able to stop working when you are working from home.
Step 1: realize WHY you should stop working when you work from home
There are several reasons why a balance between work and private life is not only more healthy, but also essential to keep up your productivity on the long run.
People who are not able to switch off work and prone to burn out. This is a serious problem. As researcher show, about 30% of all people working from home are in danger to get a burn-out syndrome over the period if one year.
There are many reasons. For employees it might be the pressure to show the boss that you are able to work remotely. Therefore, you work twice as hard as before in order to keep that privilege. It might also be that your boss constantly demands that you are available 24/7.
If you are self-employed, it could be that you strive to work hard in this crisis and are anxious that you could not be able to earn enough for a living.
It could also be that you are not that organized during the day or get distracted easily, and then need to catch up what you missed in the evening.
So there are many reasons to keep on working, by answering just that "one last" email, or sending out that "one last" report and make that "one last" quote for your customer.
But if you want to continue to be healthy and as productive you need to be, find the off-switch NOW. (I’m just kidding – please keep on reading). But it’s important to not taking it lightly.
Another reason is your family.
If you work constantly every day you family might appreciate that. Of course, it will happen from time to time. But if you work every night until the kids are already sleeping and you partner is about go to bed as well, you family live will suffer. You might think; “well I am doing that for them” – but in reality, that is not the case. Your family need your time.
If you can stop working when you are working from home, you benefit yourself and your family. What better reasons could there be?
Step 2: focus on the benefit when you stop working when working from home
Can you think back when you had a job somewhere outside of you home? Maybe it’s already a long time ago. But how did you feel when you were able to leave your work place with a clear mind - and not need to think about work until you arrive gain the next day?
You could enjoy the evening with family and friends, had time for a hobby. Maybe you were able to do some sport. Whatever you were doing, it had nothing to do with your work. And the next day you arrived at your work place with a clear mind.
Do you wish you could do that also now? Well, the good news is you can! Even if you have a demanding boss, or a demanding schedule as a freelancer you can - and need - to go back to a defined work / private life schedule, with a clear distinction between them.
We will discuss later 10 helpful tips on how you will be able to accomplish it.
But for now it’s important that you have a clear picture in mind how your life would look like.
Imagine what you would love to do. If you have a family, do you want to have time to play with your kids? Or do you want to have times to meet friends again, or spend more time with your partner?
Maybe you would love to pick up again your hobby or sport. Important is, that you clearly have in mind what you are doing with your free time – other than just watching TV. You need to look forward to what you will be able to do again!
Also, think about the benefits for yourself. More time where your mind can rest from work and focus on something else will significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We could elaborate in length about the benefit to reduce stress. But I think it’s very clear – less stress is the key to more happy and productive life.
A healthy work / life balance will improve not only your work but also your private and family life. Friendships can be maintained and you reduce the risk of a burnout drastically.
Step 3: 10 helpful tips on how to stop working when you work from home
Now you know exactly why you want to be able to stop working when working from home. You also have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Now it’s time to acutely break the habit of working longer than you should.
As with every habit we develop over the time, it’s not so easy to break free of them. That is also true with the habit of spending excessive time in your home office. So it requires determination and clear goals.
Researcher found out that’s something becomes a habit after you repeat it 30 – 40 times. So force yourself for a period of 6 weeks to stick to routine by following the tips below. After that it become much easier to stop working when you work from home.
Here are 10 very helpful and proven strategies to stop working when you are working from home.
1. Clearly define a time when you start work and when you stop working
It sounds obvious, but actually, it’s the most important but often overlooked step. Only when you set a defined time of when you start working the morning and – even more important – when you will stop working, you actually will do it.
Simply to have the goal to stop working “earlier” will not work. You may already have tried that, but still you reading this article. So it may not have worked for you so far
So think about the times you want to set. First, think about the time when you want to stop working. It might be when your partner is home as well or whatever fits your circumstances. Then count back and set the start of your work – slos include 1 hour of lunchtime (we will get to that point later).
It might be that you need to start working a bit earlier than you used to. But if you have your goal and benefits clear in mind, that should motivate you to do it.
Once you have that schedule print it out and post somewhere you have in clear sight while you are working. Also hand out one to your family or partner so they can remind you when its' time to stop working.
2. Clearly communicate your established working hours with your colleagues and boss.
Let them know when you are available for meetings and phone calls. If your boss was accustomed to call you at any given moment, it will be a change for him as well.
Assure him that you will work fully concentrated on his requests as soon as you will “be back” in your office the next day. Arrange for mailbox for your boss, so he can leave you a message if he cannot resist the urge to call you.
If you have a corporate laptop and schedule system, you also can set your work time in the calendar. So other cannot schedule meetings with you outside your working hours.
Your colleagues and customer as well need to know when you are available. And when they know you are again available the next morning at a specific time, stick to it and keep your promise. Then they will accept it and respect your work schedule.
3. Align your working hours with your family
We touched on that point before, but when you work from home, it can happen that you are so focused on the job, that your family or significant other feels neglected. Therefore, when you plan your day, set your working hours in way that you can spend time with them.
Or can you plan to work when your kid is at school? It also can mean to start working a few hours earlier, when your spouse or partner and /or kids are still sleeping. So you already got a lot of things done when they wake up.
Just be careful also to stop working when you scheduled it and not simply add that extra time to your working day. That would be of course contra productive.
4. Make a schedule for your free time
Since you want to break the habit working long hours in the evening, it’s important fill the gap so to speak.
If you have no definite plans what you want to do with your free time, chances are high that you just keep going or just answering that “last” email.. even if the time already has come you scheduled to leave work.
So make a schedule for the time right after you plan to stop working for that day. That could be just as simple as make a plan to go for a walk with someone, or to meet friends.
Or plan to go out for dinner or even just promise your kids to play with them at a certain time – and stick to it!
The idea is that you have clear in mind what exactly you will do when you stop working. This will help you to stick to your plan; especially if you plan activities, you are looking forward to.
5. Leave your office when you stop working
If you keep sitting in your work place for private activities like ordering something online, writing private emails, it’s all too easy to just do “this one last" work task. And before you know it you are again wrapped up in work.
So if you have a separate office leave it after you stopped working and close the door.
Some even found it helpful to have a little sign at the door that can be turned to “CLOSED” when the working hours are over. This creates a little mental block and separates the work environment from your private life.
If you don’t have a separate office in your home, but just a desk that you usually work on, you still can do the same. Leave the desk and only use it for your work, and never for personal use.
In time you will train tour brain to perceive this area with “work only” tasks.
So if you need to do some office stuff for your private use, go to another desk or chair in your home. Leaving your work place like this creates like a little commute and puts you into free-time mode for the ret of the day.
6. Have a separate phone and laptop for work and private use
There are many benefits of having different devices for work and private us.
The most obvious in this context is of course, that you are simply less tempted to check you work emails or take a call that is work related, if you do not have the laptop or phone with you when you stop working.
This requires of course getting a different phone number for your work. There any option including free virtual numbers that you can use. But even if you purchase another line – it’s a worthwhile investment in your life quality. Because it helps you to enjoy your free time undisturbed.
If it’s simply not possible to have another laptop for your free time, crate a different account on the laptop. You then can completely log out of your work account, including the work email account when you stop working.
When you set up your personal account on your laptop –either a new laptop or simply a new account – resist the urge to include your work email account on that. Before long, you will look into that again even in your free time. So keep work emails and work phone call for work only – private email accounts and calls for your private accounts only!
The same it true of course for your phone. If all possible, get a different phone for your work and do not set up your work email account on your private phone. Keep a clear distinction between work and private life.
7. Create a work day end routine
When you were working outside of your home time about how you ended your workday. Most likely you cleaned up a bit, rinsed your coffee cup, placed your office chair to your desk, packed your personal items in your bag. Then you went to your car, tuned on your favorite music.. and so on.
This routine you followed every day – even unintentionally. And it helped your brain to realize that now you are free to concentrate on private matters for the rest of the day.
When you work from home, it’s good to do the same. Create a routine that you follow every evening just before you stop working.
That could be:
- Creating a to-do list for the next day. About the benefits we will talk a bit later.
- Look at your accomplishments for the day
- Tidy up your desk. Have look also at our article THE CLEAN DESK PHILOSOPHY: INCREASE THE PRODUCTIVITY OF YOUR HOME OFFICE
- Wipe down your desk
- Close your work phone
- Turn on your favorite music
- …or something else you do every day
If you create such a routine by doing it every evening, you again train your brain to relax and to stop working for the rest of the day.
8. Create a to-do list for the next day
We already talked about creating a to-do list as part of your end-of-work-routine. But since this is an important task we want to talk about this bit more.
Did it happen in the past that you are waking up in the middle of the night because all of a sudden you remember and important task you forgot and something you cannot forget to do the next day? That is because our brain is much better in keep open tasks in mind than accomplished ones.
So if you want to stop worrying and meditating during your free time about a work deadline you cannot miss the next day, or the email you just have to send out the next day, write it down before you leave your work.
This will give you peace of mind and you can enjoy your time off after work.
Here is a little trick if you are worrying that may forget something on your to-do list:
Have a little sheet of paper and a pen with you. Whenever something comes to your mind that you need to take care off write it down on that paper. So you don’t have to think about it anymore and don’t have to worry that you might forget it again.
You even can take that paper with you when you go to bed. The next time you wake up because you remember and important task you write down and can go back to sleep in peace.
9. Make it a rule not to talk about work related things after work.
I know, this is not so easy. But you can force yourself to not doing it. Involve your partner and family and let them know that you are committed to not mentioning any work related topics when you enjoy free time with them. And let them remember you whenever you still do it.
In time, you will automatically block out things that are related to work and help you to stop working – even mentally during your free time.
10. Make sure you are productive during your designated working hours.
Sometimes spending many hours late in the evening for work is the result of a lack of doing so during the day.
And it’s easy to see why this could happen.
When you are working at home there ere are many distractions. Maybe kids are around, you partner may come in from time to time and ask for your help. There is mail delivery, of course as no one is watching you – there is always to danger to get distracted by browsing the internet or writing personal emails and so on.
We have a number of great articles that have valuable tips on how to stay productive while working at home. Please have a look as we cannot go over the many things that will help you in this article:
But it’s important to make the most out of your working hours. Than you also do not feel guilty when you stop working at your designated time.
Working from home has great benefits. But if you are not careful it could rob you of your private life.
So set clear boundaries to your work day. After all this is your life and you don’t want to stuck in your home office for ever. So make the best out of the time when you work but stop when it’s time to do so.
If you have similar experiences or some helpful tips we want to hear from you. Please leave a comment blow.
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