Technology has fundamentally changed the way we work. Things like mobile and the cloud have made it possible to work anywhere at any time, something that many view as both a blessing and a curse. Being able to work virtually is great, but being constantly connected tends to blur the lines between personal and professional life. As a result, more and more people are struggling to find a good balance. The good news is, there are ways to disconnect digitally and achieve that balance. Let’s take a look.
Separate your online personas.
One simple way to begin redefining who you are personally versus professionally is to differentiate the two online. For instance, setting up a personal email and social media accounts that are distinct from your professional ones can help you keep your home and work lives separate. Just be careful to always know which profile you are using so you can avoid doing or saying something that might paint your business or your career in a bad light.
Use different devices.
The ability to check your work email from your mobile phone can make it difficult to disconnect and enjoy some down time. That’s why it’s better to limit work-related activities to only designated devices. For instance, use one device for work email and other productive tasks and the other device strictly for entertainment purposes. If buying a separate device isn’t in the budget, using your laptop for work only and your smartphone for personal use would work as well. Switching between devices can be tedious, but that’s kind of the point.
Create individual user accounts.
If you’re unable to use separate devices for work and play, you can still separate your professional and personal activities on one device by setting up and using different user accounts. Use your personal account for surfing social media, streaming music or movies, shopping or catching up on the news. Switch over to your work account when you’re ready to put your nose to the grindstone and get productive. Think of switching to your work account sort of like walking into the office.
Use separate browsers.
If logging in and out of different accounts seems too cumbersome to you, try utilizing different browsers for work and personal use. There are several to choose from. For instance, you could designate Chrome as the browser you use for your professional activities and Firefox for your personal tasks. This can be beneficial in a number of ways. Not only will you keep both browsers lean and therefore operating faster, but you’ll also avoid mixing up bookmarks and mucking up your search history.
Use different apps and tools.
If you decide to forgo the above options and go with one single user account, you can still effectively keep your personal and professional activities separate by using different apps, tools, suites and ecosystems. For instance, you might use OneNote for work purposes and Evernote for personal. Or, you might use Microsoft or iCloud apps for non-work stuff and Google apps for business-related activities. It may take a bit of work on the front end to set everything up, but once you’re up and running and your workflows are defined, you’ll be off to the races.
In the hyper-connected digital age, it’s easy for personal and professional matters to become intertwined. But always being “on” and never having designated down time isn’t good for anyone. The five digital strategies above should help you draw a line between work and fun and achieve the healthy balance you’re after.
What about you? What techniques have you used to keep your work life and your personal life separate? Please share in the comments below.