How do you turn it back?

It’s 10pm. You turned the TV on two hours ago with a view to stopping work, yet there you are with a tablet in your hands, glasses hooked behind your ears and a “don’t even think of bothering me” expression on your face.

You’re in the same environment you’ve been in all day. You know – the one you’ve cleverly moulded into a place for productivity – so we don’t blame you. The problem is, you may have gone too far.

When you choose to live and work under one roof it can be difficult to achieve a good balance. At first, as a freelancer, you look at ways in which you can enhance your house for business. You go about ordering in equipment, software and furniture in the hope that it will make life easier.

Then, a good few months in, it hits you. You’ve not just created a workspace within your home, you’ve turned your entire house into an office! How do you know?

You know because you can’t switch off. There is paper work spread out on the dining table where you used to eat dinner, post-it notes on the bedside table where there used to be a ornate candle and childrens’ whiteboards with notes and scribbles written all over in your hand-writing.

Want to know how you can turn it all back?

The first thing you need to do is begin to set yourself boundaries – geographically and psychologically. Try to constrain your workspace to one area, even if it isn’t a typical office type. Within this area you will need a place for everything business-related, including files, notebooks, stationery, printers, scanners and so on. Modern storage systems are great ways to keep your workplace tidy and organised, but always be sure to buy for purpose and not just for aesthetic reasons. For example, if two filling cabinets look great side by side but you only really need one, try filling that gap with something you do need instead, like… a bookcase?

It’s also worth researching your printer thoroughly, as many are multi-functional and intended for small spaces, helping you to keep everything contained and separate from ‘home life’.

Then you need to reconsider where you’ve been sitting to do the majority of your work and why. If you have been starting the day on a wooden chair and then later migrating to the sofa, it may be that you require a comfortable office chair that supports your back properly and can be adjusted to suit individual needs.

When the practical part is done, you need to work out ways that will help you schedule normal working days. Having a schedule doesn’t mean you’re trapped or under any more pressure to get things done, it simply means you can keep a log of progress, de-clutter the mind and easily communicate to others (like family) of when you are going to be unavailable and off ‘mum duty’.

Upon completion, you’ll be able to shut the office door just like you once did a front door – leaving work behind and home-life at the forefront again (until tomorrow, that is).