I’ve learned through these past weeks of working from home that I need clear boundaries between work and not-work. For the first few weeks, I let things bleed together, keeping my computer on my lap on the couch, checking emails over lunch. That works for some people, but I am not one of them! I started having dreams that I was working, a sure sign for me that I’m overcommitting. I also noticed I was ignoring the things that keep me on an even keel, like eating fruit and vegetables, walking the dogs, and scheduling time to talk with friends. This doesn’t mean that I’m doing a strict 9-5 routine, but it does mean that I set goals for myself for the workday, and try hard to get those done before I can turn to that new batch of cookies I want to bake or the new Sara Paretsky novel. (No spoilers! I’m about halfway through.) It can be hard to maintain concentration, especially when Jolyon’s on the treadmill and I can hear it squeaking, or the dogs decide that 3:15 is now dinnertime, so I’ve had to come up with things that work for me. (Earbuds and Spotify.)
I also schedule lunch pretty religiously. It’s not always at the same time, and I occasionally overlook it and book too many things over that midday time chunk, but even if I have to eat a sandwich on the fly, I make sure I schedule 15 minutes between calls to decompress a little.
Finally, I give myself a task-based hard stop at the end of my workday. For instance, on Wednesdays, I usually set a goal of sketching out content for my following week’s social media, rather than deciding I’ll work until 4:30. I know I’ll have interruptions (Rose just peed on the floor, missing her pee pad by small but important millimeters, so I had to stop and clean it up) so it’s easier for me to end the day when I finish the tasks.
Most importantly for my sanity, I try to keep those weekends really sacred. That means, whenever possible, avoiding webinars and presentations. It means not checking email. I only look at my personal Facebook. It’s a harder thing to maintain because it’s not like I can spend the day at the fabulous Tattered Cover Book Store or the botanic gardens, but it’s essential to my sanity. I still want to feel productive, of course, so I’ll do things like make bread and prep for the week’s meals, but I also sleep in and have an early glass of wine.
My approach might not be what works for you, but if you find your days bleeding together, give it a try. Evenings and weekends = me time so that weekdays can = energy for everything else.