Tips on how to ‘switch off’ when the lines between work and home become blurred
During this unprecedented time, the majority of us are working from home, in less than ideal conditions. Some will have children asking for snacks every other minute, while others will be cooped up on their own in a tiny flat with no outdoor space. Whichever category you fall into, there’s a large chance you’re struggling to separate your home life from your work life. Joshua Zerkel, Head of Global Community and Certified Professional Organiser at Asana, shares eight of his top tips to help you switch off when these lines between home and work become blurred.
1. Take control of your notifications
Chances are, you receive a ping every time someone likes a Facebook post. The same goes for every time a team member asks a question or gives a status update. But is it necessary to be alerted for every notification? Opting out of notifications breaks the “always-on” mindset that we constantly need to be available and reactive to others. To avoid continued disruption, we suggest turning off all but the most critical notifications—whether from a specific person or related to a particular project. You’ll find yourself less distracted and overwhelmed by notifications.
2. Have brief breaks to support your productivity
Research has shown that taking small breaks during the day actually improves productivity. The trick is making sure your quick recess doesn’t turn into an entire afternoon. To keep yourself accountable, we recommend setting aside specific time blocks for non-work activities like checking the news or scrolling through social feeds. When the time block ends, close any apps or browser windows you opened so you can get back to the work at hand.
3. Be realistic with your to-do list
Juggling remote work – and for many people, childcare – means you won’t be as productive. And that’s okay. Don’t try to overestimate what you’ll achieve and adjust your to-do list at the start of each day to the actual hours you’ll be working so you don’t end up working much later than you planned.
4. Say goodbye to the 9-5 for now
With work and home life merging at the moment – working different hours may help you. Speak to your employer about things like starting earlier in order to finish earlier if this is going to help your productivity.
5. Change your surroundings
Sometimes, no matter what, your efforts to tune out digital distractions and concentrate on your work, does not work – and you just can’t seem to focus – especially during this time. In these cases, we recommend a change of scenery. Psychologists have found that going outside can help reset your brain and jumpstart creativity. So pop out into the garden for a few minutes if you have one, or go for a walk around the block to clear your head and get back on track.
6. Set up email filters and rules
Most of us receive at least a few email promotions or newsletters a day that we should have opted out of long ago. These messages crowd our email inbox and make it harder to find important or time-sensitive notes from external partners and colleagues. In order to keep your email inbox streamlined, we recommend creating filters to automatically sort through what you need to see now, versus what can wait until later. Filtering through senders is an especially quick and powerful hack. If the sender isn’t from @yourcompany.com, filter those emails to a separate inbox so you can catch up on them later.
7. Use “Do Not Disturb” mode
Say you’re on a tight end-of-quarter deadline or have an important pitch to prepare and you can’t afford to be distracted by anything. There are few substitutes for deep, uninterrupted focus time. In these situations, we recommend turning on Do Not Disturb (DND). Many mainstream productivity tools now include DND as a standard feature, including Asana.
8. Follow a “less-is-more” approach on social media
When’s the last time you went through your list of social followers and follows? Practicing good social media hygiene is one of the easiest ways to cut down on unwanted distractions, no matter where you are. If an account is no longer providing valuable content, unfollow it. Conversely, if there are accounts that provide helpful links and information, follow them to ensure your content feeds are worthwhile. If you’re feeling extra bold, maybe even consider deleting accounts on platforms you don’t use any more.