💡 Remote work may be both convenient and burdensome at the same time if not separated well from the private life.

As remote work became more popular (or rather a necessity in many cases) due to COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people struggle with its side-effects. For sure, it's really convenient because one can save time and money on commuting. It's also easier to take care of some stuff mid-work when working from home. On the other hand, lack of proper separation between work and private life, when working from home, may lead to overworking, exhaustion and less efficient work.

There are a lot of great articles on how to manage remote work, what to do, what not to do and how to separate it from private life. For me, one thing which works best is having a separate context for work and private stuff.

What is context? In this case context is a specific environment in which whenever one is put into, this person will know exactly what it means and what it concerns. So whenever one is put into work context that person just starts to work. And in different (private) context the mind automatically knows it's not work related. This sounds quite simple but good context makes your mind switch automatically without causing mental overload. So what works for me?

Separate machine or OS for work

This may not be super easy to implement for less tech-savvy people, but it works great for me. Having a separate operating system (I'm using dual boot Linux-Windows, Linux for work, Windows for private stuff) or just a separate profile will make your mind aware of the current context. It can be a completely separate device too, but again it's not the most minimalistic approach - but if you have a company laptop sitting in the office I encourage you to take it and use it for work instead of a private one!

Separate place for work

I have a separate desk which I use for work in 98% (this 2% is for private stuff when I have to hide from my 2 year old son 🙈👶). Sometimes it might be hard to have two desks due to lack of space, but you may try different things to trick your mind - like sitting on the other side of the desk or switching chairs.

Cutting off from background noises

Background noises may interrupt you and make your flow go away. Also it might be tempting to see or listen to what's going on in other parts of your flat or house. Cutting off from in-home noises might be really helpful - a good pair of headphones or a separate room with thick walls should do the job.

Make break a break

If you are having a break, make it a proper break. Don't do 2 minute breaks every 15 minutes and do a ping-pong with work and private tasks. When you are having a break, make it longer to give your mind time to switch contexts and relax a bit. Do not rush back to work. Rushing and doing stuff in a hurry causes stress and unnecessary pressure.

Dress for work

I used to also wear "work clothes" at home for work (well, this was a difference of wearing chinos instead of sweatsuit). After some time I found it not really comfortable and resigned from this idea. I don't see any negative effects so it seems it doesn't bring any additional context separation related benefits in my case. But you may try this one too.

Immersive remote work

This may be a kind of over statement or just a click-bait title because it does not involve any VR stuff (sorry). But having all the above included into daily work routine and well polished may result in a state of mind when the work context feels exactly or even better (hello distractions from the office people) like working from the office. The place you work from loses any significance and the work just flows. Getting back to the office may feel quite awkward and unproductive then at first, but it's up to anyone's self to decide if you prefer remote or on-site work.