The work-from-home (WFH) life has lost its luster for many of us.
But a ton of people are still using their kitchen table as their professional workspace every day—there’s no separation between their working and living spaces.
Being more productive at work and happier at home requires distinct separation between the two spheres. And being intentional in creating this space is critical for success in both areas.
Here’s why it’s so important as well as 8 strategies to help you do it.
Let’s start with the good things: WFH can be a positive for many people for a number of reasons, the most cited of which being:
- Flexibility to complete tasks, both personal and professional
- Increased autonomy—no one looking over your shoulder
- Fewer distractions from colleagues
- No commute
- More time with your family
But it’s also got its downsides, including:
- Difficulty “shutting off” because work is always right there; this may cause burnout over time
- Lack of boundaries in your professional life
- Inadequate equipment, office setup, and technical requirements
- Distractions from home life, including kids, chores, or household tasks
- Confusing or infrequent communication with colleagues
- Lack of clear expectations
- Loneliness and isolation
- Difficulty focusing and being productive while working
- More sedentary lifestyle
How to Create Separate Working and Living Spaces
Our list in the last section isn’t exhaustive, nor are these universal challenges. Many employees thrive while working from home because they’ve created routines and an environment that support work-life balance.
But in any case, separating your living and working spaces is key to this process.
Here are eight simple ways you can do it.
1. Have a short commute
One of the biggest benefits of working from home is saving time from your commute. But one thing a commute is good for is providing transition time between your house and your workplace.
Having a physical separation between the two worlds gives you time to switch gears between one and the other which you often don’t get when you work in the same place where you live.
You can replace your typical commute by getting out at the beginning and end of the workday—a 10-minute walk around the block can do wonders.
2. Get ready for the day
There’s nothing wrong with wearing sweatpants from time to time, even as a working professional. But if you’re in the habit of only wearing loungewear when working from home, it might be impacting your mental state more than you realize.
Getting dressed and ready for the day helps you feel professional, and that’s reflected in your mindset and, in turn, your approach to the workday.
3. Create a dedicated workspace
Ideally, you have an office where you can shut the door at the end of the work day. Out of sight, out of mind.
But if you don’t have an extra room in your home, utilize a flexible workspace and put it away at the end of the day. It can be as simple as putting a laptop away, tidying up the space, or storing your computer on a shelf out of the way.
Another option is to mix things up and use a coworking space, even if it’s on a part-time basis. This allows you to have a dedicated workspace that’s not a coffee shop or another distracting public space.
4. Coordinate with your household
A successful way to separate working and living space is to have conversations with your household, whether it’s your partner and kids or roommates. This is particularly important if multiple people are sharing the same space during the day.
Here are some things that you can establish:
- Work hours: When are you “on” and “off” work? Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean people can interrupt you
- Schedule: Are there any important meetings or appointments coming up? It might mean needing a quieter-than-normal space for a few hours or an adjusted work schedule.
- Expectations: What are everyone’s expectations for working and living in the same space? Be open and honest about what works and doesn’t work for you.
5. Implement a no-email policy after work
A no-email policy after work is an effective way to shut off your work brain and get some rest that you deserve. Make sure your notifications are off and you’ve also set the boundary with your workplace to not answer after-hours.
This can be hard to keep by yourself, so consider asking a friend or partner to keep you accountable to this goal.
6. Develop a log-on, log-off routine
Like a commute, a consistent log-on, log-off routine is a great way to build a separation between living and working spaces. Some things to consider including in your routine might be:
- Writing down tasks you need to tackle for that day or the next day if you didn’t get to it
- Turning notifications on or off
- Checking in with colleagues that you are on or offline
- Setting up and putting away your workstation
- Specific music to pump you up or wind down
A good day also starts with a good morning. Consider some of these smart habits for a successful day as part of your warm-up to the work day.
7. Take meetings in person
Whenever possible, try to take meetings in person. This will help you get out of the house and boost your productivity by being in a new environment.
Bookable meeting rooms at a coworking space are an excellent option to hold professional meetings with clients or connect with team members.
8. Don’t forget about breaks
Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you don’t get breaks. Make the most of your coffee or lunch breaks by getting outside or at least away from your screen. Some options to use your break include:
- Go for lunch with a friend
- Take a walk or try some simple office exercises and stretches
- Read a book outside
- Call a loved one
- Run some errands
- Make an elaborate lunch
Creating separation between your working and living space can help mitigate some of the challenges of working from home. It takes a bit of planning and commitment, but will make the world of difference. If you’re looking to dive deeper, check out these 10 ways remote workers can maximize the workday.If you’re a small business owner, being surrounded by like-minded and experienced professionals can be a game-changer. If you’d like to immerse yourself in a community of innovative pros, book a tour of Co-Balt today.