6 Small Ways To Create Boundaries Between Your Work And Personal Life

Especially when your office is just a few feet away from your bed.
PHOTO: Getty Images

Just like you, I had a tough time adjusting to the work-from-home setup even though it's not a completely new concept for our team. Before the pandemic, I'd wake up, hit snooze once or twice, turn off my alarm, and get ready to leave my condo. It took 30 minutes and I was out the door. The MRT station was only a 10- to 15-minute walk away, and I'd get to work 45 to 60 minutes later, depending on how long the line was. Then, I'd walk to the coffee shop and order an iced Americano. Basically, the commute and the routine around it provided a boundary between my home and the office. It's something I didn't think I'd miss.

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From March to May 2020, my routine looked something like this: I woke up, used the restroom, walked a few steps to turn my laptop on, checked my phone for updates or things I missed overnight, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat down in the same spot for 12 hours. When it was time get off work, I'd close my laptop and walk over to my bed. Physically, mentally, and emotionally—boundaries did not exist. And I was miserable because of it. 

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Not everyone can create distance between work and life, especially if you have limited space at home, but I learned a few tips that might help you feel like you're not just living to work. 

I jump out of bed. 

This might seem weird, but it's effective. I learned that hitting snooze on my alarm works against my goals for the day. If I intended on waking up at 5:00 a.m., it's because I needed that much time to get things done. So when my alarm goes off, I throw the covers away and head to the rest room to wash my face and brush my teeth. 

I don't check my phone first thing in the morning. 

This was the hardest reflex to fight but definitely the most important lesson to unlearn. I hate seeing red notifications on my home screen so the minute I check my phone, I'd have to spend 30 minutes going through all my apps just to make sure I'm caught up. It automatically puts me on work mode, and that's not how I want to start my mornings. 

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I get out of my pajamas. 

To be clear, I still just wear a T-shirt and a pair of shorts—not a full office outfit—but it's not the same clothes I wore to sleep. I realized that staying in pajamas made me feel like I wasn't ready to tackle the day because in a way, I was *too comfortable.*

I try to feel the outside world. 

I live in the province right now, and my house is right next to an open park. When I wake up early enough (meaning not a lot of people are out and about), I try to squeeze in a 20-minute walk to the beach. If my day is too busy, however, I just stand in our yard and watch my dogs run around. This is sort of how I replaced my morning walk to the MRT. 

I use my lunch hour wisely. 

I use the entire lunch hour. I eat for 30 minutes and then do something that relaxes me. Specifically, I go to my room, turn the aircon on full blast, add a few drops of lavender essential oil into my diffuser, pull down the blinds, and either nap or play with my dogs. When you're on break, that time is yours. Don't forget that. 

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After work, I put my work apps on Do Not Disturb. 

And here's the most important part: I don't feel guilty about it. I kind of have this mindset that from the minute I time-in until I time-out, I've agreed to give myself to my job. That means, problema ko lahat ng puwedeng mangyari during that time. But when I'm done for the day, it's because I've finished everything I needed to do, and everything else can be handled the following morning. 

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