Author: Diana Gordon, Psy.D.
During the pandemic, many of us have experienced a shift towards remote work. Aside from the public health benefits of remote work, many of our clients have also found other silver linings, from relaxed attire to more time with family or to pursue hobbies. However, many clients report that it can be difficult to transition between work and leisure time when both take place in the home. Feeling as though work has a discrete beginning and a discrete end can really help maintain a healthy work life balance. But how can you accomplish this when working from home? Here are a few strategies that you can try out.
Add a buffer to the beginning and end of your day
A lot of us used to build self-care into our commute, whether that was by walking or biking to work, listening to podcasts, or chatting with friends or family. Now that we are no longer commuting, it’s important to maintain a ritual to help transition you between your home life and your work life. Maybe you want to start off your day with some physical activity while you catch up on the news, or perhaps you want to call your loved ones or your friends at the same time each morning. You could also try meditating, reading or listening to a book, practicing gratitude, or other forms of self-care to start off your day. Even reserving 15-20 minutes to yourself in the morning can help facilitate a smooth transition between household responsibilities and work responsibilities. If possible, try to do the same in the afternoon when you wrap up your workday. By creating this buffer in the afternoon, you will be more prepared to take on household responsibilities and to enjoy your post-work downtime.
Set aside a space just for work
Many of our clients report that they don’t yet have a workspace at home that is dedicated only to work. It can be really challenging to create this for yourself, especially in a small space and/or when several household members need a workstation at the same time. But having space that is dedicated only to work can really help you maintain good boundaries between work and leisure time. For this reason, we encourage all of our clients to set up a workspace in their homes. For some this may be a full home office, but for others it may be a desk or chair in the corner of another room. If you may be sharing your workspace with others, you may find it helpful to have a basket or bin of items that you need for your work so you can quickly access it and put it away when you’re done. This allows you to sit down at your workstation ready to be productive, and also allows you to put your work away for the day when you’re finished. Try to avoid spending time at your workstation when you’re not actively working. This will help you to begin to associate your workstation with work and the rest of your home with leisure and household responsibilities.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas of strategies to try to maintain a work-life balance, even while working remotely. It can be helpful to work one on one with a therapist who can advise you about incorporating these strategies into your day to day routine. If you would like some additional help in this area, feel free to reach out to us for a free phone consult. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.