Makeup professionals use the term “blurring” to describe a technique to camouflage imperfections of the skin using different products and powders. In the management world, the term also describes a way of blurring things, but is one that – contrary to cosmetics which stay on the surface – relates to the deeper boundaries between professional and personal life. And no, these effects aren’t wiped off in the evening with makeup remover: indeed, with its slew of habits that are becoming ingrained in us, blurring seems to be reshaping our daily lives in a lasting way.
Checking your emails first thing over your morning coffee, doing your grocery shop online over your lunchbreak… Many a symptom, but one distinct diagnosis: if you recognise yourself in any of these scenarios, you’re suffering from blurring. And if you’re noticing similar scenarios around you, you’ll realise that you are not the only one. There is a real groundswell in the blurring of boundaries between our professional and personal lives.
Working from home and bringing home to work
At the outset, however, this phenomenon was a promise of greater flexibility – a show of confidence towards employees, freed from the obligation of “doing their hours”. Nowadays, though, the whole “Don’t worry, Nathalie, you can take that phone call from your health insurance” or the “Go ahead, Frédéric, you can leave to catch your train, just send us your document later” are everyday catchphrases. And working away from the office has become just as commonplace as doing household chores from the office.
This, of course, is because of the tools that have enabled it: indeed, business laptops and smartphones allow you to work 24/7, anytime, and anywhere. And when it’s not the devices themselves that are the reason, the culprits are work management apps and their raft of notifications sent at all hours.
A blurring with very clear impacts
The rest you know. This apparent freedom has become a double-edged sword; how do you know when a workday starts and when it ends? Always everywhere, never anywhere: that’s the curse of this phenomenon that seems to indiscriminately affect all managers.
And in this game, nobody wins. For some employees, being in this constant standby mode creates chronic stress and can ultimately lead to physical and psychological exhaustion.
8 best practices to avoid or quit blurring
Generally speaking, blurring affects our own ability to sort the types of tasks that are constantly being added to our “To-do List”. The new mantra we should adopt, therefore, is – above all – to compartmentalise tasks and set ourselves limits.
In concrete terms, when seeking to strike a balance between our professional and personal lives, it helps to:
- Put our priorities down on paper, first thing in the morning;
- Establish routines;
- Avoid multitasking;
- When working remotely, and if possible, dedicate a set space for working from home;
- Give yourself permission to not immediately answer colleagues, clients, suppliers, etc.;
- Set clear limits with colleagues and management;
- Set regular break-times to relieve pressure and enjoy moments of relaxation, even if only brief;
- If you see your physical or psychological state is already suffering, talk about it – be this at work with trusted colleagues, or with a professional who is well-versed in the issue.
A-One, a multi-service site to focus on the essentials
In addition to establishing new routines, the workplace is a key factor in helping to define the boundaries between what is private and what is professional. At A-One, offering onsite services is a way of allowing employees to “free up bandwidth”. By delegating the full responsibility of vehicle maintenance or the dry-cleaning of clothing, for example, employees can concentrate on their core business during the workday – meaning there is no longer any need to schedule appointments during daytime work hours, and no need to go out over your lunch-break to tick boxes off your personal “To-do” list.