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Peter Kim Frank
Peter Kim Frank

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When working from home, how do you turn off at the end of the day?

I've been working from home 1-2 days a week recently. It's been a great boon to my general productivity and happiness, but I've been experiencing difficulty "turning off" at the end of the day. I haven't been able to signal to my unconscious that it's okay, you can relax and stop working now.

For those of you who work remote full-time, or just occasionally, how do you "end" your day?

Top comments (54)

voins profile image
Alexey Voinov

I can't turn off even when I work at the office. :) How do you do it?

arximughal profile image
Muhammad Arslan Aslam

Same here. I even get a call from office to cover up some stuff right when I just get home. It's really stressing 😶

karmus89 profile image
Petteri Nevavuori

I routinely leave to and from work by taking a 20 minute walk. That is enough for me to drive my mind to work mode in the morning and sufficient as well to let the last thoughts run their course after work. Also I have separate laptops for work and for personal use. Main thing is to however practice this daily, just as you would leave to and from office. And I work full-time from home.

tterb profile image
Brett Stevenson

While I don't have long-term experience working from home, this problem is one that I've faced quite a bit on a smaller scale and have been concerned about when considering working from home in the future, but I think your 20 minute walks sound like a very simple and effective way of switching gears in/out of work-mode. I'm definitely going to give this a try the next time I have to bring a few days of work home.

preciselyalyss profile image
Alyss 💜

I use separate work and fun computers for the most part. When I am done with work, I try moving rooms, starting a video game, or cooking dinner.

My current setup is a work laptop, a home laptop, and a home desktop. I set out goals for what I need to accomplish and break my time into chunks. I don't get on my desktop unless I am going to do something not work related.

courier10pt profile image
Bob van Hoove

Even though I don't work remotely, I too find it hard to switch gears at the end of the day. I like the cooking dinner suggestion in particular, ymmv :)

andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

I've been considering getting a desktop to help with this. Gonna go for it after reading your comment. Thanks!

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Damn good call. I'm on my computer trying to read something or watch a show and VS Code is just calling my name sometimes.

Of course, it's easy to have the problem in the other direction, where Reddit is only a click away when you should be writing acceptance tests. 😁

preciselyalyss profile image
Alyss 💜

Admittedly, I have it set up so I can work on my personal computer if need be (vpn, dev environment) but it is there in a pinch. I try to enforce the separation for work/life balance and mental health.

I know the problem of distraction rabbit holes well and I hate using website blocking software. RescueTime is one option. You can get more analytics on your website viewing habits or set a time limit for how long to spend on a task/site.

adnanrahic profile image
Adnan Rahić

Or, you can try using different browsers. I use Chrome for work, Chromium for freelance, and Firefox for everything else. If you don't have the spare cash for buying separate hardware, this can be a good way to go about it. :)

inozex profile image
Tiago Marques • Edited

Using you suggestion, It could also use dual boot OS or dual user account, one for work, another for personal life.

My setup is like @Alyss, work laptop and personal desktop/laptop.
I do like 1/2 times week remote, and I'm a lot more productive and focused.
I don't have trouble disconnecting from work, what I do after finish is cooking or watching TV in living room.
Also, I work in my bedroom, is where I have my desk ;)

gabeguz profile image
Gabriel Guzman

I have a shutdown ritual. I got the idea from the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport. Basically, at the end of my workday, I perform the same ritual in order to "shutdown" currently it looks like:

  1. Prepare a quick list of things I need to work on tomorrow
  2. Check email / chat to make sure there isn't anything falling apart
  3. Take a deep breath
  4. Shut my laptop
  5. Say the words: "And, I'm done"

This works well both from home or from the office. It's like you're giving yourself permission to be done working. After about a week, your body starts to understand what you're doing and gets on board.

peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank

I'm going to try this checklist, including the audible "And, I'm done" sign-off. That sounds like a brilliant physical/mental signal of closure at the end of the day. Might supplement that with a walk around the block for good measure.

Thanks for sharing!

ptasker profile image
Peter Tasker

Have an office.

My office is in my basement (go 🇨🇦) and when I come upstairs at the end of the day that's it. I also have 2 laptops as mentioned. Work laptop stays in the basement, other laptop stays upstairs.

Having separate physical spaces seems to help.

Something a client of mine did was walk around the block after work. Once the lap was done, work day was over.

peter profile image
Peter Kim Frank

I live in NYC where space is tight, so a separate office at home is tough — but I'll definitely be using the "walk around the block" trick.

The most redeeming part of my commute is the walk + podcast time + fresh air, so I can replicate that in a similar manner at the end of the day.


alainvanhout profile image
Alain Van Hout

Given that the ‘separate space’ approach is impractical for you, what a about changing what you wear or even which cup you drink from? As long as there is some clear separation somewhere, it might be enough for your subconscious to get the picture.

val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca

6pm. Close laptop. Take dog for walk. After walk, enjoy the evening with my SO.

While it's not always that easy, it is usually that easy.

If a wild inspiration strikes, I'll send an email from my phone to myself or write it in my work notebook.

If I'm in a super crunch time (like right now), I set a later stop-time, like 10pm. If I'm doing any work beyond that, I'm really hurting myself and my relationship; that's non-negotiable.

ardennl profile image
Arden de Raaij

Use a good time tracking tool. If you've got anywhere between 6-8 hours in (including study time, reading up, answering e-mails, etc) it's time to call it quits. Also, have a routine! I prefer getting an early start, getting distracting things out of the way (workout, groceries, you name it) and have pretty normal working hours.

richjdsmith profile image
Rich Smith

The end to my working day is a cooking dinner. I'll put on something to watch and spend 45min+ in the kitchen happily cooking away. It's a great way to end my work day because they are such unrelated tasks.

lenoir_aaron profile image


Stuff that worked for me, maybe not everything is possible for everyone:

  • Don't feel guilty for working at home (I did)
  • Allow yourself to take breaks (as you would in the office)
  • Use a different laptop for private and work
  • Have a "ritual" to get off work (shutdown and put away laptop, leave the room)
  • Don't work in the living room (then you live in the office)
  • Set clear boundaries with other people (at work and at home)
  • Don't be half working / half at home


I work from home 2 to 3 days a week now. I've been doing it for years. I've found it got easier over time.

I'm pretty strict in my work-life balance separation. I can imagine people that run their own company, or are independant freelancers may find this more difficult than an employee.

In the beginning I always forgot to take lunch breaks or take them in 5 minutes. There was a feeling of guilt that was not there when taking breaks at the office and it took a while before I was confident to take breaks of equal length. Or even to quickly get out of the house to get some food.

The same "guilt" make me work late, or get back to work in the evening. This was increasing stress.

I don't know where the guilt came from. Maybe the fear of being accused of "slacking off".

Anyway: allow yourself to take breaks. Step away from the home office during those times. Take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, walk around a bit.

I have always used a seperate laptop for work and home. It helps to fully shut down and put away the work laptop at the end of the day.

I think this ritual can help to put you in a different mental state.

I also have my laptop on a desk in a seperate room where I don't hang out if I'm not working. So it takes some effort to get "back to work".

If you live with other people, it's important to have a clear agreement: when I'm working I'll be working and I should not be disturbed (within reason). But also: when I'm done working I'm all yours. Don't be half present at home and half working. Nobody benefits from that.

It's become easier with kids, since frequently you have no choice but to stop working on a tight schedule.

Only recently, I have learned that it helps me to have fixed work-at-home days and work-at-the-office days. But that's not really related to your question anymore.

guneyozsan profile image
Guney Ozsan

Kids ok, but how about babies?

lenoir_aaron profile image

Can you elaborate a little? Are you referring to my remark that kids enforce and en-of-day or that I can't mix being with the family and working?

The original point I was trying to make was: you can't work excessive long days when you have kids to get from school, babies from day-care or older kids to soccer practice or wherever. These obligations enforce an end of the work-day.

In that regard I don't think babies or kids are different.

Thread Thread
guneyozsan profile image
Guney Ozsan • Edited

Sorry, that was a pretty vague point that I made.

I get your point how they mark the end of the work-day when they return home. By babies, actually I tried to mean 0-1 age, pre day-care babies. How to approach this when the baby is always at home?

Asking because I liked your point about not being half present at home and half working. And with our first child, 6 months old now, my work transitioned to half present at home and half working most of the time as mother needs quite a bit of support.

kayis profile image

I simply never been a fan of working long hours, lol

yelluw profile image
Pablo Rivera

I define spaces:

  • work spaces ( a room, table, corner, etc.)

  • everything else spaces (the rest of the place/house

I only work in work spaces during my work schedule and then don't go there for anything after work hours. Going out to exercise or anything helps to also break off the continuous feeling of being alone in a house.

Be very clear to yourself that you work at certain hours and dont do anything outside those hours. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. You don't go to the office to save some file do you? Then don't open your email client on your phone 😃

cher profile image
Cher • Edited

I have a work laptop, a personal laptop, and a personal PC. I do not have work email, VPN, or Slack on any of the personals. I do have work Slack on my phone, in case there's a 🔥, but it's not something I open unless someone mentions or DMs me.

The work laptop gets closed at the end of the day, and with it, goes the office.

aidanharding profile image
Aidan Harding

Toddler knocking on the door shouting "Daddy!" usually does the trick. There's no space in my head for work when looking after him.

Cooking from fresh ingredients is very good, too. When I start, I don't have much motivation, but it's so much more concrete than coding. This meal is going to ship tonight, it might not always be perfect, but it will ship. We get recipe boxes delivered, so I don't have to invent something every day. And a healthy dinner is good for you in all respects.

argherna profile image
Andy Gherna

Probably shouting into an echo chamber here. I’ve worked from home for 5 years and have had varying degrees of success “shutting off” the day. Everyone’s rules and guidelines are what I follow or have at least tried at one time or another.

I’ve come to accept though that if you’re a remote worker who works at home that the lines are blurred between work and non-work, especially in software development. Little things like waiting to check work email at the start of the next day (even letting email sit all weekend) are the things that help the most.

My work-life balance is solid though. I’ve been able to set appropriate boundaries over time. And I’ve learned from a lot of you all that it’s different from everyone else. You ultimately are the master of your own fate. Figure out what works for you and do that.

leightondarkins profile image
Leighton Darkins

TL;DR: Go outside for a little while 😊

I discovered the trick (for me) when I was working with a client whose office was at the end of my street. It took me 2 minutes to walk to and from work, from home desk to work desk. It was fun and convenient for a while. But then I started having the same issue you describe.

After many weeks of not being able to "switch off", I just got up and went for a walk one night. I walked for about 30 minutes (to a nearby convenience store and back) at a leisurely pace, and while I was walking my mind began to wander too. I saw things in my neighbourhood I hadn't noticed before. I noticed cool street art, and interesting houses etc.

By the time I got home, I'd cleared my mind of all things work related, and I was solidly in "home" mode.

After that, I just started walking the long way home from the office every day. Usually taking about 20-30 mins. I find that it gives a physical sense of separation of home and work, like I had to walk a long way between them, which cues my mind to leave work, and start the journey home.

In the context of working from home, I generally cap off my work day with a walk. I'll go out, even if I don't have to, and just mosey around the neighbourhood. It has the same effect for me, even though the start and end point are the same place.

It also works for commuting. Generally if there's a train/bus station close to where I'm working, I'll walk to the next one in the direction I'm travelling, and get off one stop early too. Seems to have a similar effect.