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Photo: Ann Cutting
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3. Use your mental states to create physical spaces.

The next step in keeping your work and home lives healthy and pristine is creating physical environments that support each side. Let's start with your homespace. Find the spot in your current domicile that best matches the feeling of your mental home state—a room, a corner, the box your refrigerator came in. Bring into this space any objects or beings that make it feel even homier. These may include your kids, your parakeet, your softest quilt, and your dog-eared copy of Fifty Shades of Grey (just not at the same time).

Next, use the same strategy to create a workspace, whether you're a full-time parent or a merchant marine. Find a space that—no pun intended—works for you, and bring in the people and things that make you feel productive: a fresh notebook, a team of coworkers, a mule. I myself am motivated by high-quality tools (anything from a fancy-schmancy computer to a hammer), absolute solitude, and of course my writing chair, writing glasses, and writing gum—the combination makes me itch to work. Whatever places, people, and things support your internal work state, gather them!

4. Separate your homespace from your workspace.

Once you've assembled a bunch of homey things in your homiest possible place, and a bunch of worky things in your workiest possible place, separate them like a Puritan chaperone dividing teenagers. Even if your office is 90 miles away from your house, some worky things will inevitably infiltrate your home—your job is to keep them out of your designated homespace. If you work in your house or apartment, you'll need to be extra vigilant. When you're not working, put all work-related things out of sight. Cover them with a sheet, if necessary.

By the same token, don't bring a lot of homey things into your workspace. Doing so will distract and confuse you. There's a reason service dogs mustn't be petted or played with when they're wearing their work vests: They need to be clear that they're on the job. But when the vests come off, service-dog owners must play with their animals in order to keep them from becoming exhausted and depressed. You're the same way: Having clear boundaries will help you work enthusiastically, then truly rest.


Next: Find Zen by doing one thing at a time

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