Working from home provides you with great flexibility but it also comes with the hard task of having to switch off from work. This happens because we are so used to having separate environments for home and work. Now that we are faced with a blended environment it is important to set boundaries to make sure that we are working in work hours and relaxing when we aren’t in work hours. Setting boundaries is crucial to maintaining a strong and committed work ethic when working from home, as well as ensuring that you are spending time with your friends and family. It is all too easy to get stuck in the habit of occasionally checking your emails on the weekend or after you have clocked off. Here are our tips to setting boundaries between work and home when working from home.
- Plan your day
- Turn off Notifications
Planning your day
Before you start work for the day, plan out what your day is going to look like. Include things such as meetings, goals, breaks and when you plan to clock off. Sticking to a planned out day is going to aid in your productivity and is also going to keep you concentrated on your work. What is most important is planning what time you are going to clock off for the day. Setting this time is like giving yourself a mini deadline where you need to have achieved everything that you had set out to achieve on that day. Doing this will also ensure that you are completely switching off from work before you dedicate time to relax and spend with your family. When you have your lunch break make sure that you do so in a separate space to where you are working. This too is a small gateway into overstepping work and home boundaries. It’s not encouraged to have lunch at your desk in the physical office space so you shouldn’t be doing it at home either.
Setting a routine for the days that you are working allows you to get in the mindset that you are working today and aids in motivating you and optimising your productivity throughout the day. For the days that you are working:
- Get in the routine of waking up at the same time each morning
- Try and have lunch at the same time (obviously this will differ depending how busy your day is)
- Set a time that you want to clock off work for the day (aim for between 5:30 and 6pm).
It is also going to benefit you if you have a routine for your work day and a different routine for the days that you aren’t working. This will help you get in the right mindset on the days that you are working and the days that you are not. By doing this you are helping yourself set boundaries by telling your brain and your body that this morning or daily routine is what happens on a work day and this other routine indicates that today is not a work day.
Just like having a set routine for your work days and your days off, you should do the same for your clothes. Have a dedicated ‘uniform’ for work that differs from what you will wear on your days off. This doesn’t have to be a suit or a full face of makeup. It could be yoga pants and a plain cotton top. Even though you aren’t going into the office you still want to be presentable and be dressed in a way that makes your mind think ‘these are my clothes I wear for work so I’m ready to work.’
Turn off notifications
If you use communication tools like Slack or have any other kind of group chats for work, turn the notifications for these off when you finish for the day or the week. You may even find that turning these off when you take a lunch break is a good way to give your brain a short break to ensure you are refreshed and ready to get back into the day after you’ve had your lunch. It is especially important that you turn your work phone off (if you have one) when you aren’t at work. You can easily get in the habit of making it your primary device for contact for people at work and outside of work. The same goes for your personal devices. Don’t have these in the same room as you when you are working from home if you aren’t contacted via that device for work purposes. You want to dedicate 100% of your attention to your work and having personal devices in a room separate from where you are working will remove that potential distraction.
Just as above where you are turning your work phone and notifications off when you aren’t working, the same goes for emails. Work related emails are only to be read and responded to on work days, not on your days off or weekends. Doing this will take you away from being able to relax and spend time with your friends and family on your days off. If you are looking at and responding to work emails outside of work hours, this can have an adverse affect on your productivity on your work days because you have spent your days off working and not relaxing.
Clearly outline with both your household and your colleagues when are appropriate communication times. Notify your colleagues when you take your lunch break, informing them of when you are going to be unavailable. If you’re using Slack or another instant messaging tool, update your status. When communicating to your household explain to them the times that you are 100% dedicated to them and the time where you need to be 100% dedicated to work. By doing this you are acknowledging that they are important and you want to give all of your attention to them when the time comes. The same goes for work; your household needs to understand and respect when you need to be 100% focused and committed to work. A non-verbal reminder of this for your household could be to close the door to the room that you are working in so that they know that you are busy and don’t want to be disturbed. Once you’re no longer working you need to leave that room you have dedicated to work.
Having a dedicated space to work when working from home is crucial. Obviously for those who live in shared living spaces or smaller houses and apartments this can be hard. However, it is incredibly important that you have a different workspace compared to where you relax and sleep. If you don’t have an empty room that you can dedicate a home office to then find a space where a small desk can fit, ideally somewhere that gets plenty of natural light. Worst case scenario, if you have a dining table use that as your space. Under no circumstances should you be using the couch or your bed as your workspace. This is incredibly bad for your health and you won’t be able to enjoy these spaces for relaxation because your mind will go into work mode when it should be in relax mode. Having a dedicated workspace also allows you to focus on your work more and keep your work much more organised.
The importance of boundaries
Working from home is great because it gives you such great balance between work and home which allows you to be with your family more. But if you aren’t setting boundaries between work and home then you are in fact isolating yourself more and spending more time at work than you would if had to go into the office. By not setting boundaries between your work life and your home life, you are in fact setting yourself up to fail in both aspects of your life. You need to do what is right by your employer and what is right by your family. By followings the easy steps we have outlined you will be comfortable with your work from home arrangements where you are spending quality time with your family and are being more productive than ever during work hours.