Separate Work and Personal Life: 20+ Proven Strategies

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Are you striving to separate your work life and personal life? Try these straightforward tips to maintain balance and boost productivity.

1. Use a Work Email Address

Set up a professional email with your own domain (e.g., jane@yourcompanyname.com) using platforms like GoDaddy or Squarespace.

This will helps you:

  • Maintain a clean, professional brand image
  • Keep your sensitive information private
  • Disconnect from work
  • Avoid distractions while you’re at work
  • In some cases, meet industry standard legal requirements for separation of work/personal life

If you rarely get email at work, you can program your work emails to automatically forward to your personal inbox. This can be done in Gmail, Outlook, and other email clients.

2. Use a Work Phone Number

Anytime you work with a customer, vendor, or software provider, don’t give out your personal cell number. Instead, set up a business number that routes to your personal phone.

You can use a service like 800.com to maintain a clear boundary between work and personal calls with a toll-free number. This keeps your calls organized without using a second phone.

With 800.com, you simply pick your number, set your forwarding preferences, and start taking calls.

A toll-free vanity phone number makes your company look professional and trustworthy. If you prefer to focus on building a local community presence, you can also choose a local number.

A service like this also helps you:

  • Stay connected no matter where you are by routing business calls to your cell phone, landline, or any device you choose
  • Control when and how you handle business calls using call forwarding, Do Not Disturb, and call tracking
  • Monitor call data to understand customer behavior and improve your marketing strategies
  • Avoid interruptions in your personal life

We see many small businesses who have a business email address, but never get around to setting up a business phone number. If you haven’t set up a business phone, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get started and how helpful it can be in your life.

3. Keep Your Finances Separate

Use different credit cards and bank accounts for personal and business expenses. Tools like Mint.com can help track and categorize your spending. This makes tax time much less stressful!

No matter the solution you choose, make sure to separate your personal and business finances.

4. Cultivate Interests Outside of Work

One reason people don’t take care to separate their personal and business life is that they’ve let their business become their life.

If this is the case for you, you’re missing out on the benefits that come with rejuvenating activities, personal connections, and other hobbies and interests that you might enjoy.

Make a rule to leave work at the office. Schedule family activities every evening to ensure you leave on time and prioritize family over late hours.

Regularly disconnect from technology. Turn off your phone and enjoy nature or other activities to mentally recharge.

5. Separate Work Time from Personal Time

It’s vital to clearly define your work hours and tasks.

Organize Your To-Do List

You can’t really focus on your personal time if you have a big to-do list of urgent tasks.

Use an app to organize your to-do lists. You can use a to-do list app, project management software, or note-taking app.

Popular options include:

  • Google Tasks
  • Microsoft To Do
  • Apple Reminders or Apple Notes
  • Todoist
  • Things
  • Any.do

You can also use a Google spreadsheet if that works for you. Anything works so long as it helps you stay organized and you enjoy using it.

As tasks get more complicated, we recommend using something like the Full Focus Planner to break down big goals into tasks, sort out tasks, and make time for your personal life and other interests.

Schedule Time for Yourself

Make time for activities that rejuvenate you:

  • Wellness activities like yoga, meditation, daily workouts, runs or hiking
  • Family activities like attending your child’s soccer game
  • Social activities like Friday nights out

Planning personal time motivates you to manage work hours effectively, so you don’t have to cancel your personal commitments.

Stick to Your Schedule

The most important tip of all?

Stick to your plan. Start and stop your work on time.

This helps prevent work from spilling over into personal time. Following this rule will protect your relationships and personal commitments.

6. Create Systems and Processes to Set Boundaries

Take a look at this list, and implement what sounds like it will be helpful to you.

Use Automation

One way to save a lot of time is by automating your email.

  • Create email templates in Google Workspace or your preferred email system.
  • Hand off email management to a virtual assistant.
  • Unsubscribe from email lists you don’t want to receive.
  • Filter out messages like privacy policy updates that you’re tired of getting.

Communicate Boundaries Clearly

Inform clients and colleagues of your availability. Be clear about your off-hours. This sets expectations about when you are not reachable.

Of course, some people need access to you, even at late hours. To address this, organize your contacts into groups. Allow only priority contacts to reach you during off-hours. This helps manage who can interrupt your personal time.

Turn Off Notifications

It’s vital to stop work interruptions so that you focus on your personal life during your personal time.

  • Turn off non-essential notifications. This reduces the urge to check your device constantly, helping you focus on personal time.
  • Set specific “Do Not Disturb” times on your devices. This prevents work notifications during your personal or family time. (Customize allowed contacts if necessary.)
  • Turn off push notifications from work-related apps during your personal time.
  • Adjust settings to prevent work notification on your personal devices. You can disable text message forwarding to your iPad if it’s used for both work and leisure.
  • Use airplane mode during movies, performances, or other personal time. Sometimes you need to be present to fully enjoy an experience.

Consider Using Separate Devices

Consider using a separate phone for work. This allows you to turn off the work device during weekends or after hours without affecting your personal communications.

If you choose to use the same device, here are tips to keep your work and personal life distinct.

  • Install different apps for work and home. For example, use Microsoft Outlook for work and Gmail for personal emails.
  • Place work apps on one screen and personal apps on another. This minimizes the temptation to mix work with personal life.
  • Avoid confusion by using two calendar apps. This helps you keep work commitments and personal plans distinct.
  • Different sign-in profiles for work and personal use will allow you to switch off work by simply logging out.While not as powerful, using Focus Mode on iPhone lets you set automatic rules based on time or location to manage distracting notifications.

7. Manage Your Online Persona

Everything you share online contributes to your personal brand. This includes photos, information, and political statements.

It’s important to manage what you share to shape how others see you. Decide how much you want to separate your personal and business life online. This choice depends on your industry and personality.

Take 10 minutes to think through a basic social media strategy for yourself so you can decide how to organize what you post.

Choose the Right Tools

Use different social media platforms for different purposes. Facebook is great for personal connections, LinkedIn for professional ones, and Twitter for quick updates and trends.

You might also start multiple YouTube channels for different purposes: one for personal media, another for activism, and another for your business or professional videos.

Combining these tools effectively can help separate your social spheres.

Keep Facebook and Instagram Private 

Keep your personal Facebook and Instagram profile private. Meta allows you to create separate business profiles for professional activities. This helps you avoid mixing personal media with business communications.

For business contacts who friend you on Facebook, politely suggest connecting on LinkedIn instead.

Manage Your Privacy Settings

Check and adjust your privacy settings on all social media platforms.

To reduce junk mail in your business inbox, only connect with people you know on LinkedIn, and stay informed about how websites collect and use your data.

Conclusion

These strategies will help you maintain a clear distinction between your professional and personal life. To make them work for you, tailor them to your lifestyle.

If you do, we feel confident these strategies will help you live with less stress, more balance, and more joy.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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