Six Habits for Leaving Your Home Office Earlier

Leave your home office

Whether you’re a telecommuter or running a home business, you probably find leaving the office a difficult task. It’s not supposed to be that way.

One of the main advantages of working from home is your ability to leave your office and instantly be home. Many, however, waste this advantage by having a difficult time stepping away from work. It’s a malady that causes stress, burnout, and inconsistent productivity.

Learn to separate your work and home lives, and you’ll be on your way to having better balance – and increased sanity.

Here are 6 essential tips for leaving your home office earlier:

  1. Prepare better: Simply put, if you start work earlier you can leave work earlier. But a major function of this idea involves making a daily plan. Grab your morning coffee and your planner, and spend 15 minutes creating your schedule and a short list of high-priority tasks. Now your day will have a planned direction, giving you more control over when you leave work.
  2. Declare your space: Any time your workspace spills over into your personal space you’ll find yourself lingering on work when “office hours” should be over. Define the boundaries of your workspace, and officially shut down your office each day, even if it simply means closing your laptop, packing up a portable file, and storing them in a closet. At the very least, it’s a symbolic gesture that gives you permission to finish your daily business and stop working.
  3. Follow a dress code: You have permission to be casual when you work from home, but a laid-back attitude can seep into your productivity. As trivial as it sounds, you’ll be more productive when you maintain your own office dress code. Maintain a positive appearance and you’ll find you’re more productive when you feel better about yourself, and it will give you freedom to run out for errands or last-second client meetings.
  4. Keep your time in a box: If projects tend to spill over into your personal time, you need to schedule your task time. Box-out periods of time on your day planner strictly for project-specific tasks. This method will focus you on getting the important work done each day. Other work can be deferred to another day. For details on successful using time-boxes, check-out our free productivity guide.
  5. Tie-up loose ends: Telephones may be cordless these days, but they still keep you bound to your home office. You wait on calls, you delay calling others, and it creeps into your personal time. Make a proactive effort and schedule your phone calls to be completed by closing time each day. This may mean that if you’re waiting on a call, you’ll have to communicate an alternative time to speak during business hours tomorrow.
  6. Email on schedule: Just because email can be typed in the evening from the living room couch, that doesn’t mean you should do it. It’s a major distraction from family or personal time. Instead, keep a strict email schedule where you check your inbox once in the morning, once after lunch, and once before leaving work. This should allow you to satisfy all of your daily communication, and keep you from obsessively checking your inbox long into the night.

Leaving the office is hard, especially when  it may be attached to your family room. How do you do it? Please comment below and give us your suggestions.

Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at
[photo by otubo]