Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

Separate Work from Home

Separate Work from Home

I’m a big fan of productivity. There is always too much to do. That’s why I’m continually looking for ways to do more with less. Over the last twenty years I’ve adopted best practices (e.g. GTD – Getting Things Done), embraced planning methodologies (e.g. PPPs – Plan, Progress, Problems ), and picked up new habits (e.g. DDD – Delete, Delegate, Do). Then, sought out the best tools to make it easy to use across the many devices I work with. I done an okay job of that. However, I have always struggled to separate work from home life. Why?

What’s the problem?

Over the last 14 years working at Cognifide, I have always used the same devices to carry out my work and home tasks. As a result, I never really switched off. Ever! That’s the problem. It is too easy to switch from work to home, and vice-versa, when both worlds live on the same machine.

What did I do?

On December 31st 2018, I decided to physically separate my work from home life. Let’s call this Separation Day!

Prior to Separation Day I had a MacBook laptop and an iPhone. I had multiple profiles and documents for both my work and home life across these devices. My Dropbox for Business was the unifying filesystem where everything was stored.

On Separation Day, I bought a MacBook Air and another iPhone. I purchased a personal Dropbox Account. Then I moved all my personal files, data and documents across to my new acquired MacBook Air, and deleted all aspects of my home life from the work MacBook. I went through a similar exercise with my iPhone. It was bloody painful. It took a month to sift through all everything, but by the end of January, it was all done. I had separated work from home.

What happened next?

I carry two phones now. My home phone is always with me, where my work phone travels with me for work only. I have two laptops. Same deal. My work laptop is for work. I keep it closed at home and use my personal laptop when not at work.

Over time it became more and more comfortable to not work at home. It is easy to walk through the door, put down my work phone, and leave my work laptop in my bag. Prior to Separation Day this was impossible.

If I need to work, it is for a discrete task, and when it was done, the laptop goes away. The work laptop is no longer always on, which means, never am I. This was by far the biggest mindset change for separating work from home.

What other changes are happening?

I rarely use my work phone at home now or my work laptop at home. I love opening up my home laptop because that is for fun. My wife is cool when I’m at home on my home laptop, because I doing my stuff.

I’m also much more productive on my work machine . I’ve removed things like instagram, facebook, and all the other distractions from work. I have greater focus now with fewer distractions. If I need to have a break at work, I pull out my home phone and play. When I’m not working, my work machines become instantly irrelevant. Literally, no interest to me! In much the same way that when I’m on my home laptop, work never comes to mind. I will never have a work document on my home devices .

Why does it work?

Hard boundaries work. I needed that physical separation of laptops and phones. Only now do I have clear water between my work and home life. It’s really working for me. I wholeheartedly recommend this for you.

Soft boundaries don’t work. They are conflicted. I had Chrome for work and Firefox for home on the same laptop. Always convincing myself that I had go this sorted. I was kidding myself. It didn’t work. I found myself switching between the two often. It was way too easy and tempting to slip into work at home, to check that last email. The hard boundary put a complete stop to that.

Separate Work from Home

I’m much more productive at work now, and I can completely switch off at home.

At the end of this month, I leave Cognifide, UK to join Wunderman Thompson North America as their CTO. Thankfully, the work transition is painless. I had done all the hard work back into January on Separation Day. I will hand back my work laptop and phone here in London and pick up a new work laptop and phone Seattle. There are no work-to-home life conflicts to deal with. Life is simpler.

I will never go back to putting for my work and home life on the same devices. I’ve blown up that bridge. They are mutually exclusive. Trust me, once you make the change, guaranteed, you will never look back. Well, you’ll ask yourself, why didn’t I do this before? But don’t beat yourself up, just make the change now, and enjoy your new freedoms.

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About Cleve Gibbon



I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently doing.

This year I plan attend a number of events. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'm easy to find as I'm always laughing. Find out more about me and get in touch!