Draw the Line
Working remotely tends to blend professional and personal spheres together which makes it hard to disconnect them. By having a dedicated work computer and an additional personal system you can help this separation with a physical barrier. This separation has many benefits, including reducing stress and improving productivity. The name of the game here is to reduce the noise and develop your groove. Naturally, many assume this means to strictly focus consciously on work, but the truth is many habits allow this focus to come organically. On the flip side, restricting a personal computer to use no work related apps will allow that time to also become distraction free. Ever feel like you’re always working even after clocking out? These tips may help.
This article will argue to use two different computers entirely, however this is not possible for everyone. Sometimes the company computer is the only computer, or a bring-you-own-device policy is in place. If this applies to you, follow these tips by using two different accounts on the same system.
The Small Things
Personalization can go a long way to create a different mind space. Consider not using the same themes, wallpapers, or peripherals between each system. Remember, these aren’t hard rules, only suggestions but try to use more sterile options when available like a single color or company logo for the desktop wallpaper, save the family and pet photos for the other computer – they’re likely only a few feet away when working remotely anyway. Using light mode on your personal system? Try dark mode on the company computer. Change the location or style of your taskbar or dock. These visual cues help the brain recognize the difference between the “workplace” and home. When the day’s done and you transfer to your personal system you’ll feel the entirely new space and you brain will know work has no place there.
No Longer Connected
We’ve separated the hardware, we’ve created two different spaces both physically and visually, but the real challenge is to fly against the defining element of our time: always being connected. Either try to avoid social networks and chat apps that are not work related, or at least drastically limit yourself. Clicking the bookmark to your favorite social network one time can take up a surprising amount of time from your day. Regardless of productivity metrics, the real downside is losing your work groove and being less invested in personal social interactions when work is notifying you. On your personal computer do not bookmark work email or install your team communication applications. Nothing is more buzzkill than getting that work notification at 8pm in the middle of playing a game with friends or chatting with extended family.
Use these tips as a starting point to create other differences between your systems, without mental juggling of work and home life constantly fighting for attention you’ll find you have more focused work, more meaningful home interactions and an easier time with the transition.