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How to set boundaries between work + home following these 14 steps!
When your workspace is also your home space
Career 04 Aug 2020

Due to the ongoing pandemic creative professionals around the world are becoming familiar with the challenges and benefits of working remotely from home. One of the most common concerns about working from home is the complexity in setting boundaries between your work and home life. While you work from home there will be a learning curve to remote work, and those of us who’ve recently made the transition are discovering which practices translate from office to home—and which need to be reimagined altogether. One of the biggest considerations being how to create routines and boundaries when there is no longer a commute to physically separate home and work. Because when your workspace is also your home space, it’s easy to blur the lines between work and relaxation.

The lack of physical boundaries between work and home means that you will have to set firm boundaries, in order to preserve time for work and time for yourself.

Here are 14 ways to set boundaries between work and home, so your you time can really flourish!

  1. Keep to a daily routine
    Creating a simple ritual to help transition into work, even without a physical commute, can be a helpful practice. Us humans are creatures of habits and thrive off good ol’routine. A good place to start to set boundaries is to aim to get a regular good night’s sleep.  We are all better mentally and physically when we sleep well, and great sleep depends on good sleep habits and a regular routine. Next keep to routines like the time you eat lunch, shower, exercise etc. Not only will you feel better for it, but your colleagues will know that during those times you will always be unreachable.
  2. Proactively set your agenda
    Having a list to choose from can reduce paralysis about where to start. When you have a structure to follow when you begin work in the morning it will help to knock out the most important items first. Prioritizing a few tasks that matter each day can relieve pressure and help you create momentum for the next day.
  3. Create a dedicated workspace
    Establish a place that is just for work, for at least part of the day — a place where you can be in office mode, and if you live with others in the house they will know not to disturb you unless necessary. Ideally that is a room with a door, but it can also be comfortable area withing your living, or a temporary space you set up and break down each working day. Remember when you are choosing your workspace to consider how many distractions it presents.
  4. Separate where you eat
    Try not to eat at your desk. Either go into another room, or outside. By creating spaces where you perform your daily activities that are not ‘work’ you will be able to relax more.
  5. Eliminate distractions as much as possible
    If you know you’re likely to get distracted by things like social media, online shopping or even worse Buzzfeed quizz, there are plenty of tools available to help combat these efficiency-destroying habits. With limited distractions, you’ll be significantly more productive, which is just as good for your personal life as your work life.
  6. Keep moving!
    Exercising is vital to mental well-being and it is important to find time to exercise regularly. Especially now you are not power-walking to the station on your daily commute. Maybe try going for a walk or run, or even a home workout, before or after work. And remember by sticking to a routine, these workout time-slots will become habitual.

  7. Remember to relax
    While preparing your home to become a space for work, also think of creating areas just for relaxation. When work is over, or you are on a break consider using the time to take a break from using technology and by doing something more mindful. This can be taking a bath, yoga, reading a book or watching your favourite show. Mindfulness can be different for everyone. By not being close to a screen that can have reminders of work, you will not be tempted to begin working again.

  8. Take regular breaks
    As well as making sure to take your lunch break and work regular hours, it’s also important to give yourself a few mini breaks throughout the day, similar to the time you’d spend in the office making a coffee or talking to a colleague.

  9. Remember to put some clothes on
    Now you are working from home it may seem tempting to just stay in your pjs all day long. But this will not allow your brain to separate from relaxation time. Putting on clothes however does not mean wearing a powersuit and a full face of makeup. Your work uniform can be something comfy—as long as it’s not what you slept in.

  10. Block out do-not-disturb time
    With colleagues not knowing when you are busy, without being able to see you with your headphones on in deep concentration mode, it is hard for them to know when not to reach you. Therefore the lack of physical boundaries between work and home can increase the tendency for distraction, so you may have to build in ways to deter any more distractions. For at least one hour a day, create a do-not-disturb time for work. Try doing this for the hours where you feel most productive to get the task done!

  11. Set communication guidelines with your colleagues and team
    Letting people know when you are reachable and how to reach you is critical to setting boundaries with colleagues and clients. When you work from home, it is difficult for others to know when you are busy, so you will surely get interrupted. To minimize interruptions, tell your colleagues and team when and how to get a hold of you. It may also be a good idea to ask for a separate work phone.

  12. Learn how to say no
    Anyone who works from home is used to the constant requests for favours during the workday. Although your new wfh situation may be more flexible, you should still observe the same hours as the rest of your team who are working in the office, so learn how to say no.

  13. Take your days off seriously
    When your home doubles as your office your days can blur into one, even during the weekend. Remember to completely unplug to recharge your own batteries, so you are less burnt out for work on Monday.

  14. Remember to switch off
    When work is done switch off your work equipment. If you do not have a home office, pack your things away so you are not constantly reminded about work or tempted to hop back on your emails again to avoid burnout.

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