I know it will be controversial, but I don’t think the expression work/life (as if you can split work from life – surely they are part of the same thing?) is entirely accurate.
I prefer to think of it as work/social/home life split. But many people tell me that they find it difficult to switch off from work when they are at home. Does this include you? Here are some ideas that may help:
Commuting: Use this as a sort of transition time between home and work. If possible, think through what your plans are for the day, but also spend some of that time reading an absorbing book or listening to music that will set you up for the day.
Actually switch off when you are at home: If you find yourself mulling over stuff from work, make a specific change at home that will switch your brain from work-mode to home/family mode. Get a soduko or crossword puzzle, or do something physically challenging. It will get your brain engaged in something different to work.
Avoid the ‘Blackberry Always On’ syndrome: This links in with the previous tip, in that, while your phone is on, your brain is still mentally connected to work. If you really want that family dinner un-interrupted, take the plunge and put the phone away.
Have an agreed finish time at least two days per week: Agree a time with your boss and stick to it. That will keep you in control and give your family a specific time to plan things in the evening without the worry of cancellations.
Actually take time off: I know it will exasperate many of you, but research has shown that you are actually more productive on the Monday if you have actually taken the weekend off doing things YOU want to do. You know it makes sense!
Take regular breaks during the day: If you come in early and work late, having regular breaks will stop you from thinking you’re working all the time. Even 5 minutes of down time two or three times in the morning, and an extended lunch break, can convince your brain you are actually working efficiently and will avoid overload.
By identifying what you can do to create a barrier between your work and home life, you will be able to spend more focused time on doing what is important at work without it causing problems emotionally at home.