If you’re like me, you’ve been glued to your Apple TV+ watching Severance. The workplace thriller, which divides the character’s memories between their work lives and their personal lives, literalizes the struggle for work-life balance that we all face.
While we can’t all have an “innie” that erases our personal life stressors while we’re at work or an “outie” that leaves the stress of work behind so we can enjoy our lives outside of the office, there are actionable ways that you can compartmentalize to create a healthy balance.
Psychologists consider compartmentalizing a coping mechanism, but I’ve found that, when used correctly, it can be an effective way to achieve professional and personal balance. Here’s how:
1. Properly manage your environment.
While many things are out of our control, you can control your environment and how it relates to your productivity. By setting up a workspace that limits distractions, you’re able to focus on the task at hand and increase productivity. Turn your phone on “do not disturb,” close out unnecessary tabs on your computer browser and keep your workspace tidy to help keep your mind from wandering.
2. Make your calendar your holy grail.
When you plan out your day, you’re ensuring that time is being dedicated to the most important tasks at hand. Scheduling tasks into chunks of time on your calendar not only helps to visualize your day but also removes the stress of feeling like you must get everything on your to-do list done at once. You can go one step further and create a routine that dedicates specific time to scheduling out your upcoming day or even week.
3. Make time for breaks.
Your calendar doesn’t have to be full of work tasks—it’s just as important to schedule daily breaks. It can be as simple as a 15-minute walk or 10-minute meditation to clear your mind and relieve stress.
This can be carried over into your personal life as well. Not everything is as urgent as we sometimes make it seem. Leave work at work, and make sure you’re also taking time to tend to your personal life. Schedule activities outside of work that are both prioritized and consistent. Take some time to focus on yourself without distractions from clients and colleagues.
4. Recognize what’s important versus what’s urgent.
Sometimes it seems impossible to avoid a constant stream of requests. If you’ve been accustomed to thinking that every email needs an urgent response, it may be hard to break the habit. With each request that comes in, put yourself in the requester’s shoes and determine if waiting a day will make a difference in the outcome. Chances are, it won’t.
The bottom line is the more control and focus you have over your present moment, the more productive you’ll be, whether at work or at home. When we let work and life bleed into each other, we run a greater risk of burnout and decreased performance. And at the end of the day, this decreased performance will end up affecting both your personal relationships at home and your team members at work.