Why should we separate the workplace from personal space?

Do you struggle to shut down after a workday from home? Would you like to be more productive and effective during works hours?

Personal story

A few years ago, at my previous job, a colleague and I were on a zoom call with a few clients and one of them was in the USA, who’d just arrived back from work to retire at home. Coincidently, this person was the only one with his video “enabled” and it didn’t seem like he noticed. During normal conversation, we found out that he was taking the zoom call from a place where he feels comfortable, comfortable enough to undress!

So there is a desire to separate these two places, and not get them confused!

Home office set-up

How do we separate the two places?

I am going to use NLP anchors to explain how we can accomplish the separation between work and personal spaces. Anchors allow us to elicit a desired physiological or emotional state using an external trigger.

First of all NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming which is, simply put, a set of models that allow yourself to improve your internal and external communication to build more resourceful states to achieve your goals.

Anchors are the process of associating an internal response to an external trigger. That internal response could be a physiological or an emotional state. The external trigger could be anything that we can sense, a touch, a tune, a gesture, etc.

During behavioral therapy, NLP anchors can be used to elicit a desired physiological or emotional state by associating it with a unique trigger, normally a touch or a sound and doing so repeatedly. However, these anchors become part of our lives without us even knowing it.

Have you ever heard a tune that has instantly taken you back and changed your emotional state? You might already have a go-to song for the gym or your run!

Ever walked passed a bakery, smelling the freshly baked bread and instantly remembered the baking of a loved one (mother or grandmother)?

So you might ask, why is this important? Well…

What if the aim with separating work from the personal spaces is a matter of creating different internal states for these spaces? How do we want to feel when in our personal space vs at work? Calm/relaxed vs productive & motivated? What if we set up our spaces with triggers that elicit these two different internal states and make sure they don’t cross easily? Do you think that would be helpful?

There is a specific process to applying new anchors, but the most relevant steps include selecting a unique trigger and repeating the process. The trigger needs to be unique and should not happen accidently!


A presenter might want to feel confident and energetic while speaking on stage. The presenter might use an anchor that is triggered by clicking his/her fingers just before going up on stage. The clicking the fingers will only work if that is not a common thing that the presenter does in their normal life.

When you put you PJ’s on, how/what do you feel? When you enter your bedroom, how/what do you feel? Do you feel calm/winding down? What happens when you sit on your comfy coach in front of the TV?

Do you really want to contaminate these internal states with work?

On the other hand, how do you feel when you sit at your desk in front of your computer? How do you want to feel?

This is where we want to concentrate on the external triggers of the two spaces and make the triggers as unique as possible.

Things you can address:

  • Can you have a physical space that is designated to “work”?
  • Can you have specific tech (a computer etc) designated to work?
  • A specific (office) chair for work?
  • Do you have work clothes? Staying in PJs might be comfy, but does NOT help separating the two spaces.
  • What about lighting? Tones (background music?)? Scent (put on work perfume!)?
  • If you have hair to play with, do you have a hair style specific for work?

The aim here is to make the two spaces as different as possible.

What next?

You might be thinking that it’s such a long list of things that you can improve on, but the fact is, just by starting to implement one or two things, the results should start coming in. This should assist in separating your workplace from your personal space, enabling you to have a more productive and purposeful work/life balance! BTW NLP anchors can be implemented in other areas of your life…

If you have any questions about any of the topics mentioned, please get in touch with us.