In the first months of the pandemic, Ms. Green said she heard from many people struggling to separate work life and personal life for the same reason: Everyone at work knows you don’t have anywhere else to be. Whereas before quarantine you could imply a previous commitment, that “out” is off the table.
The solution, according to Ms. Green? “Just start putting the boundaries in place.”
“In a lot of situations you don’t actually need to ask permission,” she said. “People tend to feel like this is a change, and sometimes that’s true, but way more often people realize you can just do it.”
This could mean not answering your phone or email after your workday has ended, or not engaging with a Slack message while you’re taking a 15-minute mental health break during the day. But often, Ms. Green said, “when people just start carving out those boundaries for themselves, they discover it’s fine. Nothing happens, no one even notices.”
Of course, that doesn’t work for every job or company, so if you’re nervous about creating those boundaries, have a conversation with your manager, Ms. Green said. Tell them you want to create a schedule that’s sustainable — and healthy. And even if you bump against resistance in that conversation, at least you had the talk. “Now that we’ve brought to the surface what the expectations are, I can decide, ‘Do I really want this job under these conditions?’”
Also realize, Ms. Harts said, that the identity you choose to bring to work won’t always match with your co-workers.