Ah, the weekend. Work is over. Relaxation is the only to-do. Right?

With the rigorous demands of business, many entrepreneurs and business managers struggle to separate work life and home life. The e-mails never stop coming, the calls never cease, and everything reminds you of the work you weren’t able to finish.

But if having a clear separation between work and home life is important to you, then it is critical you understand how to create boundaries.

There are three underlying behavioral/circumstantial principles that can help you disconnect from work: framework or setting, associations, and habits. Understanding these is key to living a healthy work-life mix.

Your framework/setting is a relatively easy one to fix. If you work in a centralized office, the weekend rule is simple: Don’t go to the office.

If, however, you work from home, the separation between work and home becomes more challenging to maintain. If you can, find a dedicated space for work during the week that you can close off or hide on the weekends. Shut the door, remove the computer, move the desk. These actions will, over time, trigger your mind to recognize that work is over.

You should also considering spending time away from your usual environments. Even at home, there are work temptations, so take a day trip with your family or friends. Having no built-in work associations in these new places will ensure that your mind remains uncluttered by office to-dos.

Speaking of, associations with work tasks can easily distract you from enjoying home life. These associations can take almost any form, but align two items or activities that are commonly associated at work. Work to “reprogram” your weekend routines and activities so they don’t remind you of work responsibilities.

Here’s an example: If you wear a suit and tie to the office, make a point of not wearing these on the weekend. In fact, set aside “weekend wear” and “work wear” so that there’s a clear delineation between the two.

There are three underlying behavioral/circumstantial principles that can help you disconnect from work: framework or setting, associations, and habits. Understanding these is key to living a healthy work-life mix.

Another example: If you browse news and email on your phone as you head into work (while also thinking about what has to be done during the day), then switch up the routine. You can still read the news—but get a paper subscription instead and read it with your family in the living room. Or, commit to only checking your email on your home computer.

Lastly: If you hang out with work colleagues on the weekend for fun, make sure there’s a strictly enforced no-work-talk policy. Anyone who accidentally breaks the rule has to buy everyone a round of drinks or a game of golf.

Habits, often a bane, are the third must-break tie to the work world.

Do you have a habit of checking your work e-mail on your phone every few minutes during the work day? Here are a few solutions: Remove your work e-mail from your phone, get one phone for work and for home, or just ditch the phone altogether.

Do you have a habit of eating unhealthy fast food during the week? Solution: Make healthy pancakes or a protein-rich egg brunch every Saturday morning for the family.

Do you have a habit of crashing on the couch during the week after work? Flip the script and pick up a new hobby for the weekend—do something that broadens your horizons. It will keep your mind sharp and engaged, while also feeding a personal interest or passion.

Also, be sure to put in place a system of accountability. Even if you’re determined to keep home and work lives separate, it helps to have someone who can call you out (gently) when you slip up.

Tell your spouse about your plans to draw a line in the sand and how you plan to implement your no-work weekend. Ask them what they see as your work associations and habits—they may see things you don’t. Also, ask them what they need from you—time, activity sharing, chores, etc. This well help keep your priority firmly on family and not work.

Lastly, here are a few ideas for activities to do by yourself or with your family during your no-work weekend. These should separate you from your work life while also fostering your relationships and feeding your passions:

  • Work with a family member on a house fix-it project. Make it fun—add music, food, or a reward when the job is completed. Share stories, but don’t talk about work.
  • Cook a meal with your spouse. Try something new you haven’t made before. Invite friends over to share it.
  • Try an arts/crafts project with a son or daughter. Let them take the lead—a nice change from constant work decision-making.
  • Take a day trip to a park or outdoor setting. Being cooped up in an office during the week means you need to be intentional about spending time outdoors.
  • Spend time with a friend. In the chaos of the everyday work world, it’s easy to let your friendships fade. Be intentional about staying in touch and being social.
  • Write. Start a journal or diary. This helps you articulate emotions and thoughts and gives you a place to store them. If you ultimately share these with others, you will have given yourself time to process them.
  • Volunteer. Contributing to the greater community will remind you that there are more important things than staff meetings and P-and-L sheets.
  • Exercise. This one is a no-brainer, and should be part of your weekly routine. But make your weekend exercise different—something that requires a bit more time or investment, but something that is as satisfying as it is challenging. Consider group workout classes where you can be social while completing a good workout.
  • Read. It’s always good to stay on top of news, but expand your worldview with different kinds of literature. If you need some help picking (or finishing) a book, join a local book club.
  • Be thankful. This one is essential. It may seem silly, but being grateful for what you have—and letting others know that you appreciate them—will put you in a more positive mindset. It will also strengthen relationships and pay your positivity forward.

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