Working from home – how do you switch off?

I used to work in an office and had a long commute. By the time I got home in the evenings, work seemed far away and I didn’t have to worry about it until the next day. When things were busy or stressful it was hard to stop thinking about work sometimes, but I found a way to switch off from it all and relax when I was at home.

Now my work is at home it’s a bit different. My ‘work’ is a laptop and a few piles of paper and because I juggle my work with looking after the children I always have everything to hand so I can do a few minutes work here and there when I get the chance. This means I’ve been doing this all the time: evenings and weekends too. I’ve found myself constantly in the habit of doing a bit of work whenever I can.

When you work in an office, your job and home life have some separation. But working from home merges to the two together and I’m realising that it would help me if I could force myself to have a break from thinking about work. So this means I close down the laptop for a period of time and make myself stay away from it. I always check e-mail on my phone in case there’s anything urgent, but I’ll delay my replies to non-urgent e-mails until I’m in my ‘working mode’ again.

I’ve learnt it’s about time management, which isn’t easy when you have the undpredictability of three children under five day in, day out. But now my eldest has just started school we have a firmer routine to the day. It means I can designate time for work and time for the family. Oh, and time for myself too – that’s easy to forget that isn’t it? I’m realising it’s important though. By giving myself a little break here and there, it means I have more energy to manage work and family life. I’m a long way from mastering it but I’m getting better at it. Working flat out at everything all the time doesn’t do you any favours at all!

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  • That’s such an important thing to learn. When I worked out of the home I used to come home and cook as a way to wind down. It’s not that simple now – cooking tea for three hungry (and often grumpy) children is NOT relaxing. Switching off the laptop … and the blackberry … is vital!

  • My son is out at school from 8am and I head off to collect him between 3pm and 4.30pm depending on if he has anything on after school. So these are generally my work hours. I aim to clear everything away before I leave to collect him. I do work in the evening occasionally but it’s only when convenient with family life.

    A trick I use to switch from business me to mum me is when I am waiting for my son (I try to arrive a few minutes early) I sit in the car and think about all the things I love about my son. This really has helped me to switch of from work and be present as a mum when he arrives.

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