How to Ensure That Work Doesn't Follow You Home at Night

How to Achieve Work/Life Balance

No Work Zone

If you're struggling with work/life balance, the culprit is probably "work creep" -- work that follows you home at night like a lost puppy dog.

So suggests author Elizabeth Grace Saunders in an article for Fast Company. "With some jobs, you truly do have to be available to work 24/7: think doctor on an on-call day. But most jobs don't require giving your work this level of access to your personal time. So why is it that many people … feel like they're never really able to turn work off completely?" Saunders asks. "You can proactively reduce the amount of time work intrudes in your personal life with some simple, yet powerful, time-management strategies."

One of Saunders' preferred strategies is time blocking, wherein you anticipate your workload, then proactively schedule blocks of time during which you can complete it.

"The first step to avoiding working outside of work is to know exactly what needs to be accomplished for the week. Increasing your awareness of what might keep you up at night or working on the weekend allows you to not have it surprise you at the end of the day or the end of the week," Saunders explains. "Then if possible, look for open blocks of time in your calendar when you can complete the work -- for example, an hour gap between meetings or an open morning. If you don't have any open time, then you'll need to begin blocking time out in your calendar if you want to have any hope of getting work done at work."

Another, related strategy is isolation. "Once you have time blocked, you'll need to work to protect it," Saunders continues. "In many work environments, it can be hard to get work done at your desk because of the number of interruptions. You may need to … find a place to hide. That could look like simply closing your door (if you have one), finding a conference room, a quiet area of the building with empty desks, or even working from home or at a coffee shop. Remember: If you don't hide from people at work, you'll end up hiding from your family and friends outside of work because you still have stuff to get done."

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