How to Successfully Transition Between Work and Personal Time
Ever since COVID first hit, working from home has become more common than ever. While many of us enjoy the freedom it brings, that freedom comes at the price of structure. A structured work day, with built-in habits and routines, is helpful for most, and crucial for some – especially for those with ADHD. Whether you struggle with ADHD or not, though, here are a few ideas to help you shift between ‘work mode’ and ‘home mode,’ so that you can more easily focus when it’s time to work, and relax when you’re finished.
Build in a Virtual Commute
Remember when we had to drive to work? The traffic and stress may feel great to leave behind, but the commute to and from work also served an important mental function. It served as a transition period to help our brains gear up and get ready for work. And at the end of the day, we were able to literally leave work at the office, so our brains could down-shift into home, social, or relaxation time. Without that built-in transition, it’s easy to become stuck in one mode or another, especially when you don’t have the privilege of a separate office in your home. So, consider building in a virtual commute time before and after work. Here are a few ideas:
Have a Starting Work Routine
This doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Even ten to fifteen minutes is enough. This is your chance to plan for the day, and put any lingering non-work thoughts aside. Planning and prioritizing your day can help with focus, as it reduces the amount of decision-making you have to make between tasks. It may also increase motivation, especially if you begin with a couple small, easy tasks for a quick win and burst of dopamine. Here are a couple more ideas.
Compartmentalization is just one of the many ways to set boundaries with yourself around work. It’s often spoken about as a negative way to cope with stress or traumatic events, but when used intentionally, and in a healthy way, it can be a great tool for keeping work and home separate.
Have an End of Work Routine
Just like the getting-ready-for-work routine, this can be short and simple. Any of those routines can be repeated or modified for your end-of-day routine. Again, the idea is to give yourself ten to fifteen minutes to allow your brain to shift focus. Here are a few more suggestions.
It isn’t always easy to create these routines and habits. There are a ton of legitimate reasons for some people not to do them; for example, taking a walk before and after work may not be a great idea for someone who lives in an area that’s very hot, or that doesn’t feel safe. For those of us who are disabled, it’s literally impossible. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives that can serve the same purpose. If you need a little help identifying them, or finding ways to stick to them, an ADHD coach could help.