Today’s porous boundaries between work and home can wreak havoc on productivity — thinking about work when we’re at home or obsessing about home matters when we’re at work can minimize our effectiveness in both places. These 4 tips can help you manage your work-life transitions:
- Be aware
- Clarify your intent
- Develop a routine
- Be flexible
The more conscious you are of your transitions from work to home (and home to work), the better you can manage them. Think about leaving home and arriving at work, as well as leaving work and arriving home.
And also think about when work shows up at home and when home shows up when you’re on the job. Oh, and guess what? With most jobs (and most homes), it’s pretty unreasonable to think that home stuff won’t show up when you’re at work and vice versa. You’re human. But you can have a plan.
Clarify your intent.
What is your goal for how work shows up outside of normal work hours? Your choices can range from never working away from your office, to only working at home after the kids go to bed, to not taking calls when you’re at home (or at an outside event), or blocking certain hours as “no work” hours. Whatever makes sense for you, at least 90% of the time. There will be exceptions, and that’s okay.
Also think about how your home life shows up during your work day. Depending on the type of work you do and your personal circumstances, you might set an intention for this piece, too. When my kids were little and I took conference calls from home at odd hours, my rule was: no interrupting unless someone was bleeding (which actually happened once!). Working some atypical hours also gave me flexibility to prioritize attending many of the kids’ late afternoon lacrosse and baseball games.
Develop a routine.
Making habits to open and close your workday can help you make the mental shift from home to work and vice versa. Some clients listen to business-related podcasts on the commute into work and music on the way home. Some open and close their days with “to do” lists.
One client of mine decided to mark her transition from home to work with the act of handing her kids their lunchboxes. For her, this was a symbol of sending them off to school, where she knew they were happy, learning, and in the capable care of others. Taking that perspective allowed her to stop worrying about whether or not their homework was done, or if they had what they needed at school, or if they had eaten well at lunchtime, or any of a thousand other things. Free from those worries, she was able to leave home and be energized and focused on her work day.
It’s not always going to work. But rather than ditching the whole routine, know that you’re designing it to work for 90% of your days, not the 10% of times when things go crazy.
Take some time to think about how you might handle things when you need to work when or where you typically wouldn’t. Are there ways you can choose to limit work’s impact on your home life in these moments?
And also think about how things might go when your home life imposes itself on work. What kinds of things can you do to make things easier there?
By being aware, clarifying your intent, developing a routine, and being flexible, it’s a lot easier to manage your work-life transitions.
What’s your best practice to manage your work-life transitions? Let us know in the comments below!