In the current COVID era, working from home — and the challenges it brings — has become the “new” way of life for many people.
Six months in on this experiment, many people are finding it to be exhausting.
Of course, this isn’t really new at all. What’s new is that we are seeing something that was previously invisible.
In some form, you’ve been taking your work home with you, and your home to work with you, for years.
You may have had times when you arrived home still agitated from an interaction at the office.
Energy is contagious.
The anxiety about the deal that is causing problems led you to be impatient with your spouse or your kids, which led to an argument that infected your energy at the office the next day and interfered with your ability to be attentive to clients and co-workers.
Then you brought that back home with you.
Rinse and repeat. That’s how we create destructive energy cycles.
Now you’re not just carrying the energy with you; it’s in your space the all the time.
When you work from home, it’s much easier for your work to invade your home life, and for your home life to intrude on your work life.
Fixing this won’t happen by developing better “time management” skills because it’s not about how much time you spend working.
The crucial skill here is energy management. To be effective in working remotely you must create strong energetic boundaries and respect them.
What’s an energetic boundary?
An energetic boundary is a way to create separation between two different activities or energies, so that one doesn’t negatively impact the other.
One example is transition time.
In your pre-COVID world, even if you worked from home sometimes (or all the time), you likely had other places you went: errands, the gym, a yoga class.
Different activities require different spaces. You don’t eat meals in your bathroom, and you don’t shower in your kitchen (unless you live in an old apartment in New York’s East village, where the shower is in the kitchen).
Those places gave you a change of scenery
and required transit time to and from. Transit time offerers a buffer, a chance to shift your energy.
Commutes and transition times can have a cleansing effect, if we use them wisely.
Without those commutes you need a substitute activity that will create an opportunity to shift your energy as you move from one context to another.
How to create an energetic boundary
The best way to create an energetic boundary is through Rituals.
Whether it’s lighting a candle to signal the start of an activity or a walk around the block after you finish your work, rituals clear the energy of a space and create space for the work that is about to happen.