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Digital boundaries

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Enhancing work life balance through digital boundaries

Each person covers several roles in their life, some workrelated, some pertinent to personal life. In our research on
work-home boundaries and technology we found that people
create more complex interactions to discourage them from
accessing work ‘stuff’ when not working. They basically create
some friction in their interactions.

Separate your work life and personal life online:

  • Create different accounts for communication channels. Consider having a Skype account for work on your laptop, and a different personal Skype account on your phone. That way you don’t have to worry about thinking where you are logged in, and who will be able to reach you on which device.
  • Group work and non-work tools separately. On your phone, use folders to organise (and hide away) work apps such as email, Slack, etc. Moving that folder with work-related apps away from the home screen is another way of creating some distance between you and work.
  • Sign out of any instant messaging channels. Consider logging out of instant messaging channels such as Slack during working hours if you really need to focus and not be interrupted at work. You can also sign out of instant messaging channels at the end of your working day.
  • Create different user accounts on your devices. This might be easier on your laptop than on our phone. Try having an account for work activities where you block social media, and one for personal matters where you don’t have work emails synched. Some of the Android phones let you set up multiple accounts in this way too.
  • We have also found that people who separate their devices feel more in control of the boundaries they set between work and life. As an example, your smartphone and tablet can be for personal stuff only, whereas the laptop is only for work stuff. This might mean deleting or removing any work or personal apps on your device.

How to create a dedicated folder for apps:
Home screen -> hold down on an app for about two seconds -> all the apps start bouncing. From here, you can delete apps, move apps, and put apps in folders. To create a folder, just drag one app onto another.
To create a folder, just drag one app onto another.

Keep in mind:
• Curate the content of your messages – if it’s quick questions,
use an instant messaging channel. If you need to have a more
permanent record, email it.
• Delete app links from your phone’s home screen or delete the
app from the phone during holidays and longer breaks.

How to create a new account on your laptop:
Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> unlock and enter your password -> click “+” -> click New Account -> choose the type of user depending on how you want you use the other account (e.g. just for browsing the Internet a guest account may be enough) -> enter full
name (you can’t change this later!) -> enter a password for the new user -> click Create User.
Windows (8, 10)
Start -> Settings -> Accounts -> Your account -> Family & other users -> Add someone else to this PC -> here you will need to enter a Microsoft email account. If you don’t have another one, choose “sign in without a Microsoftaccount” -> Local account -> choose their name and password > Next -> Finish.

How to create a new account on your phone:
Android Lollipop and above
Pull down the notification centre -> select the profile icon -> Add user -> follow the instructions to enter a new Google account. For this, you might need to create a new email address.

How to automatically redirect to a different page
When you’re working on your computer and want to stay away from distracting websites, can set up your Internet browser to automatically redirect you away from whichever website you want to avoid.

You can use the Chrome extension Timewarp. After downloading the extension, input the url of the website you want to avoid (e.g. www.twitter.com), press the ‘Redirect’ button and input the url of the website you want to visit instead (you could choose something neutral like an online dictionary or other website that you know will not distract you).
On Firexfox, you can use the Nudge extension to achieve the same goal. Input the url of the website you want to be ‘nudged to’ and list the websites you want to avoid.