Work and life balance is important. Rather, I would say it is crucial to feeling your best at (almost) any given moment. We’ve become so busy that we have time for quite nothing after work. Unfortunately, what we depict as ‘busy’ does not echo ‘productive’. We might spend more time on the PC, but more often than not, we’re doing whatnot.
I strongly believe in becoming my best self day after day after day. If I have chosen to be a freelance writer, it is because the freedom it gives me makes life satisfying. Everything can’t be pink every day, especially when you don’t know how to separate work from life. That’s a rough patch we all have to go through – employees and freelancers alike.
I’ve put together this thorough list of the best tips to separate your work and free time efficiently. Some require nothing but common sense. Some require you to take the time for proper self-care – one of the hardest moments to put aside when you’re running around town all day every day trying to make it. Just follow my guide, and let me know which tips you implement when separating work from home – I’d love to know your own hacks!
The Best Tips To Separate Your Work And Free Time Efficiently
One difficult thing to do is learn how to separate emotions from work. I think I’ll talk for all freelancers when I say it is damn hard to find a true work and life balance. When you get carried away in your projects, the hours clocked in start passing by in a blur.
However, I have found you cannot be truly happy when you don’t know how to separate work from personal life. If your brain is always logged in, then it takes away from all the other little enjoyments life can give you away from work. You lose energy and focus that could be used to create the most unforgettable memories. Been there, done that. Work and life balance is the only key. That’s why you need to learn how to separate work from life – to be able to look back and say “I’ve been happy”.
1. Work and Life Balance: Really Enjoy Your Free Time
If you want to work to the best that your brain and body allow, you need to know how to plan your week to be productive. Breaking news: without proper resting times, separating work from home is plainly impossible. Everything needs to be planned, from the breaks to after-work activities to unwind.
We all know how the will to go out and have fun decreases with our energy levels during the day. We might have agreed to a drink or a walk a mere two days before, and it so happens that we’re too tired to go out now. Separate work from personal life – schedule your log in time, and your log out time at the start of the day. This will force you to respect your schedule and try and pack in as much effort as possible in all the planned tasks. Don’t plan an activity or event for every day – once again, keep a balance so you don’t exhaust yourself. The key is to have enough pleasurable off time that work bounces off it in an exciting manner.
2. Separation Rituals
When you think of how to plan your week to be productive, you need to plan some separation rituals. There need to be moments where time is suspended, and you’re not even thinking of separating work from home. Between work tasks and resting, you will need to add the walk back home, a workout, a snack… Short spans of time when you’re neither productive nor unproductive.
With this tip, separating work from personal life gets even easier. Indeed, it gives you time to think of completely other things like planning a dinner out, what actor played in what movie, the beauty of this car’s color… It’s a simple moment where your brain simply disconnects from your personal life and work altogether, and you’re just a soul in suspension.
However, you can also use the commute to do some easy tasks – it depends on each person to see the commute as a break, or a separation ritual.
3. No Distractions
To achieve a true work and life balance, distractions at work are completely forbidden. I’m not saying this to you – you are. You already know how much time you’re spending on Instagram on fake – undeserved – breaks instead of working. Sometimes, as I’m working, I’ll have a kind of panic attack and wonder if I’m really going to ever be good at what I do (writing).
You should not let self-doubt engulf you. Self-doubt can be useful to reflect on at the end of the day. In the meantime, block out the negative thoughts and block out using your phone, your camera, or your Nintendo DS and stick to it. Work is not going to get itself done.
4. Spend Quiet Time Alone Before Starting Work
If you want to know how to separate emotions from work, you need to spend quiet time with yourself. A little yoga slash meditation session after your morning tea or coffee – or before – will always do much good. Sometimes, it can get hard to know how to separate work from life because of all the buzzing we have inside our heads. All the little voices that keep reminding us that we’ve got something more urgent to do than work, or that we shouldn’t forget to buy fruits next time we go shopping.
To know how to separate work from personal life, use five to fifteen minutes in the morning in a quiet spot. What I do is I make a tea or infusion first thing in the morning, followed by lighting up a candle. As a freelancer, I have my dedicated zone at home that I’ve designated as my office. To know I’m going to be productive, I always do those things: a tea, and a candle.
I’ll take time to reflect on what I did the day before, what I still need to do for the week, and what I have to do for the day so I keep moving forward. Life happens, with highs and lows, and sitting down for some quiet time alone helps me take some distance to be more performant.
5. Work and Life Balance: Be Productive When You Work
This point echoes the one before on how to separate emotions from work. Be productive, not busy. You’d be surprised how many times I thought I had been productive for 12 or 13 hours on the computer when I’d just made myself think I had been. In fact, between getting up to make dinner and checking out my phone countlessly, there was no work and life balance.
I was just there, hoping to trick myself into believing I was doing something worthwhile. In the end, not making task lists and planning my activities for the day wasted a lot of time. Don’t get me wrong – we all come from somewhere different on how to separate work from life. I have decided to start working from a coffee shop or coworking spaces for students every time I get the chance. A coffee shop when the money is rolling in, a students’ house when it’s not. We know the hustle.
Changing your setting might help you find out how to separate work from personal life as it did for me. Discipline is crucial – no one will do your work for you, and I might even add: if you’ve chosen this job, it should make you happy. In that case, it should be easier to actually put in the work. The discipline mentioned for this work and life balance doesn’t revolve as much around productivity during the work as it does around a true separation between work and play.
6. How To Separate Work From Life: Build Yourself A True Workspace
Separating work from home can be tricky if you work from home. For some people, going into another room furnished to be an office is possible. When you live in a one-bedroom apartment like I do, working from a desk that doubles as the living room table is the only solution. My solution here is the decoration – I almost only ever light up candles when I am working. That way, my brain is tricked to separate work from personal life.
If you’re wondering how to plan your week to be productive, think of all the elements that would help you get into the work mindset faster. We don’t always have the option to spend the day at a coffee shop. Still, when you’re working from home, the work needs to be put in no matter how you’re feeling or where you’re working.
7. Use Extensions On Your Computer and Any Tools To Help You Be Performant
I am all about Chrome extensions. They help me on how to separate work from personal life on many levels because they’re so useful. I use the Pomodoro Technique, inspired by the veggie-shaped kitchen timers, and usually, work 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. After three or four hours, I take a 15-minute break. That rigidity in the timings helps me on how to separate emotions from work. If you’re working in digestible 25-minute patterns, you have less time to break down.
However, I sometimes find that just 25 minutes makes it harder when it comes to how to separate work from life. It’s sometimes just too short, and it makes me lose my focus. I’ve recently started working while listening to the videos of Merve, a Glasgow-based student. Other Chrome extensions I use include a Screen Shader that makes the screen yellowish/orange to protect my eyes during long days. I also use blue filter glasses on top of that – it might be too much, but since my work is also my sight, I protect my eyes as much as I possibly can. One last extension I use is Forest, which is also a phone app that allows you to plant virtual trees and flowers in exchange for deep focus without screen time.
8. Work and Life Balance: Take Serious Breaks
For a true, fulfilling work and life balance, correctly-timed breaks are of the essence. Whether it’s five minutes here and there or a big 20 minutes after two or three hours, breaks are breaks and they must be respected. That’s where the “life” part of your life comes back into play. That’s when you can make another tea, have a walk, play with the dog or buy yet another candle to work to.
Whatever you do, if you want to know how to separate work from personal life at this moment, no thinking of work.
9. Learn to say no
When you sit down to figure out how to plan your week to be productive, you usually fill in all the little blank spots with breaks and tasks. However, it sometimes happens that you get a new workload on top. When separating work from personal life, you need to learn to say no. Say no to tasks that don’t serve you, and that you can possibly turn down.
There we will have the difference between being a freelancer and an employee. An employee might find it easier to go by separating work from home. For a freelancer, it’s more difficult. However, it’s easier for a freelancer to turn down assignments, and harder to separate work from personal life.
It’s all about your choices in life, but in any case, don’t let work overstep your personal life, and vice versa. Otherwise, you won’t know how to separate emotions from work.
10. Make lists!
I have found that separating work from home and building a true work and life balance requires lists. Lots of lists. Precise, short, to the point. When you sit down and wonder how to plan your week to be productive, brainstorm on all you have to do – work-related. Then separate work from personal life with the activities you’d like to enjoy that week – a date, going to the swimming pool or watching a specific play in town. Just force yourself to get out, and respect the lists you make for yourself at any cost.
It might be a bit tricky to implement this work and life balance tip at first, especially if you don’t really know how much you can take on in a day. But it gets easier with trial and error and asking for tips from coworkers, friends, and family. At the end of every day, make a new list for the following day. Refine, if you haven’t been able to do all you had planned.
It’s no use over-planning only to find out day after day that you can’t physically or mentally clock in all that time. Rather, start small, and push your limits week after week. In my case, I try to push myself by adding just one more article to write, do one more task, or change one more detail that will smooth the whole work process for me, like buying an agenda or finding a new Chrome extension or software that could help me as a freelancer.
Wrapping Up The Best Tips To Separate Your Work And Free Time Efficiently
Learning how to separate emotions from work is not an easy thing to do. But, as with all things in both work and life balance, the only way is through. Prioritize rest as much as you reasonably can during the day. The first tip on how to separate work from personal life is self-care. Learn to disconnect, and you’ll know how to separate work from life.
Having a walk, getting out of the house, doing some affordable shopping online, taking a shower in between tasks can all help in being more productive with your work. And once you master this, you’ll be unstoppable. Let me know your own tips to separate your work and free time efficiently – I’d love to learn new ways to perform better! If you want to take your mind off food during work, here’s how to meal prep for a week without waste of food nor time!