Work-Life Boundaries: Rituals and Other Ways to Separate Your Work and Personal Life

work-life boundariesI just heard a speaker talking about the importance of boundary rituals for doctors — little habits and rituals that set work-life boundaries to keep your work and personal life separated. I knew exactly what she was talking about, and thought it was such an interesting way of phrasing it — and I thought it might make a nice discussion here. So, ladies, what are your boundary rituals? Have you always done them or did you adopt them over time? What are your biggest challenges with work bleeding into your personal life?

Psst: we’ve talked in the past about answering work emails at home, homing from work, and after-work routines.

Work-life boundary rituals and habits to try after work:

  • walking or driving home through a picturesque route (or one that goes through a picturesque spot)
  • listening to music or a non-work related podcast (psst: Slow Burn is excellent if you’re curious about what it was like to live through Watergate!)
  • changing into workout clothes or jeans when you get home from the office
  • cooking dinner (or having a glass of wine while cooking dinner)
  • “docking” your iPhone at a specific spot in your kitchen or living room so you can check it occasionally (or even [gasp!] changing your settings so it only checks for new mail every 15-30 minutes)
  • going through a ritual with family or your roommates where you share a rose and a thorn from your day with each other — something that was a win for the day as well as something that was hard.
  • going through some quick breathing exercises or a meditation app like Headspace (we’ve talked before about the benefits of meditation for business women)

Boundary Rituals for the Office

Sometimes you need the separation more the other way — so here are some possible boundary rituals to practice at the office to keep your personal life at home…

  • turning your personal phone to silent/mute (if not turning it off entirely)
  • slipping on your heels or other “shoe that lives at the office”
  • discouraging friends and family from calling you or texting you at work unless it’s really an emergency
  • engaging in a specific productivity practice like having set times to answer most of your work emails, writing down three tasks to accomplish that day, or even finalizing your billable hours from yesterday and/or planning your time today

How about you, readers — do you find that you need work-life boundaries to keep your personal life separate from your work life?work-life boundaries - how to set boundaries between your work and personal life What do you do, both at home as well as at the office?

Strong work-life boundaries keep your work life separate from your personal life -- so we rounded up some of our favorite boundary rituals and habits!


  1. Lana Del Raygun :

    Does taking your pants off as soon as you get into your apartment count?

  2. Or bra!

  3. summertime :

    When I was a young doctor, working crazy hours, waking up at 3:30am and riding my bicycle to the hospital because there wasn’t any public transportation that early, the best part of my day was the trip home.

    Riding my bicycle home…. the feeling of the air…. the exercise…. breathing…. choosing favorite streets/paths to take…. and sometimes in the summer making it home before sunset and getting some exposure to light….. I was a new person by the time I got home.

  4. Mine is my walk home from work, taking off my suit, eating nice food. I feel vaguely like I need something weirder or more definitive.

    • Your like me, but I have to keep workeing after get home and eat. I really do NOT really have a personal life b/c I just pick up where I left off with the breif writing and billeing cleint’s for my work. The manageing partner says I am doing great work, but I am just now getting home and logging on, and this is the first post I have read through. How sad is that? A lawyer who works from sunup through sundown, and onley spending breaks in time to eat. I have to slim my tuchus down soon, or I will have to skip the manageing partner’s opening up of his place in the Hamtons this summer. FOOEY b/c it is usueally a good time, except for the manageing brother’s grabbing me in the pool. DOUBEL FOOEY!

  5. I go to the gym on my way home. Not every day, but enough.

  6. I drive to work and have started to turn the radio off. It is nice to help me savor some moments before the day hits. On the days I actually go home from the office, I also like to go on a walk (without my phone or anything!) to transition.

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