Life Contexts — Cues To Differentiate Between Work And Home

Michelle Mac
4 min readSep 13, 2021

As one of the many people now working from home, I found the process difficult at first.

I couldn’t switch my mind between my day job, my side-projects, and spending time with family.

Everything bled together which left me focusing on the wrong things at the wrong time.

Over time, I have learned to set up various “life contexts” to focus my mind on the work at hand.

These life contexts are made up of subtle and not-so-subtle cues that signify the type of work or activity I’m currently doing.

This allows me to focus on tasks when I’m at work. I can then switch my attention to friends and family when I’m done with work.

If the idea of life contexts sounds intriguing to you, please read on.

Different Computers For Work & Personal Contexts

One of the best ways to separate my work and personal mindset is to use different computers for each context.

I realize I’m quite lucky to be able to use multiple computers, so I’m sure to take advantage of this.

The difference between computers is made more obvious by the fact that one is Mac and one is Windows.

By sitting down and starting up one computer over another, my mind knows what mode I should be in and this helps me get my work done.

Different Desktop Wallpapers Signify Work & Personal Use

Another trick I picked up from CGP Grey is to change the desktop wallpapers on my computer to signify the current context.

This is a great tip if you use one computer but have different contexts like work or personal.

In my case, my work wallpaper is a simple geometric pattern in blue. My personal wallpaper is the same pattern but in purple.

Over time I’ve come to associate these colors; blue with work and purple for personal.

Now when I start up my computer on a workday, the blue color signifies to me that I’m about to start work.

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Michelle Mac

The *heavily edited* ramblings of a technical writer & frontend dev. I write about creativity, design, and productivity. Start here: https://heymichellemac.com/