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Ways to Not Take Your Work Home With You

How to Get Rid of Work Baggage From Your Home Life

I'm excited to present a post from one of my favorite sites, ShelterPop!

Whether it's your Blackberry or non-stop work talk, work is work and home is home. We spoke with former House & Garden magazine editor Dominique Browning about how to unplug and keep work at bay and out of your personal life.

More and more in the digital age with the plethora of compact laptops, hand-held phones/computers, and eReaders in the market, it's as if there's no escape from the office even when you're not there. We'll be the first to admit that we're guilty on every front when it comes to bringing work into our living space. That prompted us to dig a little for ways to clean our work physically (and mentally) out of our home lives.

We spoke with Dominique Browning, former House & Garden magazine editor and author of Slow Love, a soulful and thought-provoking autobiography about her journey to blocking out work and reconnecting with herself. Scroll down for our Q&A with Dominique along with tips that we've been implementing since speaking with her.


Are there rooms in the home where work should not be allowed?
Absolutely. First, work should never be allowed in the bedroom. If you wake up looking at your desk and go to sleep with piles of paper and notes and computers blinking around your head, you'll never clear up the mental space you need to work with focus and clarity. After that, avoid work in the kitchen, for the obvious reasons: Peanut butter on keyboard, wine on eReaders, etc.

For those who have home offices and work material that tends to get everywhere, what would you recommend?
I'm not strict or judgmental about material getting everywhere. Some people have to have that sort of "mess" in order to think straight. But you do need periodic clean up. Otherwise, put everything in baskets and pile them up on shelves or in a neat row under the desk with large labels so you know where things are. But don't let it get out of hand.

A clean home often means a healthy home, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's work-free. What are decorating tricks that can help keep work out of the back of our minds?
Make sure your space is lovely for you to be in and that it energizes or calms you as you need it to. Most important, make sure you are comfortable. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how often people don't even consider the height of their chair or the work surface area of their desk. Make sure you have something that gives you a middle distance focus--something you can "fall into" when you look up from your computer--a view of your garden, mountaintops in the distance, skyscrapers. Or the simplest way: Hang a poster or a landscape painting that gives your eyes another focus.

What we've learned from Dominique and what we've been doing since.

1. Limit Work Talk. Whether you live with your family or roommates, allot 10 minutes of work talk in the living area right when you get home. Get everything out of your system then and put a cap on it for the rest of your evening.

2. Set Up Email Rules. If you're the type that's chained to their cell phone and email inbox, set strict rules for yourself to not check it at home. I've been feeling more refreshed recently by keeping my phone in my work bag on silent at dinnertime and when I'm with friends at home.

3. Keep Work Out Of Sight. It's important to organize your work material and documents so that they're out of sight in your home and on your personal computer screen. Leave your bag in the closet by the entry and keep your phone on silent on a table. I've been hiding my work documents in a folder on my laptop.

Here are a few more of our favorite ShelterPop posts this week:

How to Layer Doormats
Habits of People With Clean Homes
Small Kitchen Ideas | Photos
Decorating Tips to Maximize a Small Space
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