Three Ways to (Re-)Establish Clarity Between Your Work and Personal Life

Happy New Year, Renewers!

More of us are heading back to our workplaces this week – or have already returned and are anticipating a distinctive return to “pre-holiday operations.” You don’t have to rejoin/uphold expectations or implications of overwork (or the feelings of uncertainty or perfectionism that come along with them)! Here are three things you can do to reduce the blur between work and personal time. 

Get More from your Out-Of-Office (OOOM) Messages. You’re likely already using OOOM when you’re away for long periods of time; however, I recommend using them whenever you’re away for more than an hour or so (including overnight!), and you can customize them to fit shorter time periods. Doing so will free you from the drive to compulsively check your email and/or respond right away whenever you’re not in the office. RESULT: Because the OOOM tells recipients the boundaries of communication – including whom (else) to contact if assistance or responses are needed in emergencies (define what that means, if you like!)you are freer from worry about what’s happening at work when you’re not there – and you’ll get more comfortable with owning the idea that overpresence does not equal increased value (vocational awe, anyone?). BONUS: Remove your organization’s email app from your personal devices. If your organization uses Google or a similar “public” email platform, remove your work profile from your personal devices.

Schedule Time for Meals, Movement, and Rest Breaks. People suffering through low morale and/or vocational awe are more likely to forgo meal breaks and prolong deep work sessions – and less likely to recognize the drain of constant multi-tasking throughout the day. My work with Ione Damasco showed that BIPOC workers in particular are more likely to forgo basic physical needs (e.g. restroom breaks) while dealing with low morale. However, we know taking time for nourishment and rest will give us good energy which is also the catalyst for creativity. Taking care of yourself at work is just as important as that Outreach Planning meeting. If you find you’re regularly working through lunch breaks or not taking time to rest from screen exposure and people interactions, start scheduling these important meetings with/for yourself.  RESULT: Better mood (because you’re not hungry); Increased energy (also, from improved food choices). You’ll also set yourself up for better rest, which could help you set and keep improved sleep hygiene/rituals at your formal bedtime. BONUS: Get to a point where you identify and apply a regular “meeting free day” during the week.

Set a Shut-Down Alarm. Having trouble breaking away from work at the end of the day? Set an alarm about 15 or 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time. When the alarm sounds, begin your work shut-down activities. Write down your to-do list for the next day, finish up outstanding email responses (and set that OOOM!), straighten up your desk – and any other activities that increase your readiness for the next day. By the time your departure time comes around, you’ll be ready to head out of the building! RESULT: All the things you worry about when you’re not at work are already organized and attended to, reducing rumination and worry as you make your way home to your larger (real) life. BONUS: To increase accountability, identify a colleague to “walk out on time” with (get a person whom you know will give you stares and whatnot until you get up from your desk).

If you decide to try any of these (or if you’ve already implemented them), share your experiences with the Renewers community here, within our Facebook group, or on our Twitter and Instagram spaces.  Have a great New Year!

All Best,



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