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How to better separate your work and personal life on Android

I don’t know about you, but I am positively exhausted.

The line between work and personal time has all but evaporated these days — and these crazy little computers in our pockets keep us connected to emails, chats, to-do lists, and tasks 24/7, whether we want it or not.

It’s the blessing and the curse of the modern work world: While there are certainly times where that constant connection can be an asset, there are also plenty of moments where it can be an energy-draining drag.

And here’s the thing: Android itself actually has some thoughtful tools for managing that division and separating your work life from your personal time — but those tools are available only if your phone is part of a company-connected, enterprise-managed arrangement. That means if you’re working in a bring-your-own-device sort of setup or in any other situation where a dedicated “work phone” isn’t provided, you’re pretty much out of luck and left with a jumbled, boundary-free mess of professional and personal stuff.

Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve come up with a crafty workaround for creating your own system of boundary-defining work and personal profiles on Android, with or without any manner of official enterprise enrollment. It takes a little bit of time to set up initially, but once you have it configured, it’ll just work from there on out — and it’ll give you the ability to switch easily between work and personal modes on your phone and give your brain a much-needed (even if only occasional) break.

Part I: Establishing your work/personal profiles

First things first, we need to create the foundation that’ll power this entire setup and allow you to maintain the two separate profiles on your phone. And for that, we’ll use an oft-forgotten Android phone feature: the ability to sign in as multiple users on the same device.

It’s something that’s actually been available on Android phones since way back in the Android 5.0 era of 2014 (and even earlier than that, when it comes to tablets) but that’s gotten increasingly buried and underutilized over the years. It’s also part of the same broad system that enables the privacy-enhancing Android Guest Mode I wrote about earlier this fall.

There’s one annoying asterisk, though: Just like with Guest Mode, Samsung has for no apparent reason opted to remove this standard operating system element entirely from the software on its phones. So if you’re using a Samsung device, unfortunately, you’re out of luck.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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