How to Set Work-Life Boundaries When You Work From Home
Huge fact: 3.9 million U.S. employees work from home at least half of the time, and according to some estimates by 2028, more than one-third of the employees will work remotely. And with the Coronavirus pandemic, even more of the workforce is thrust into working from home.
Working remotely can provide more satisfaction if you know how to set work-life boundaries properly. Remote workers are known to fall into trap and sacrifice work-life balance to get everything done.
In the long run, this can have a detrimental effect on your health and well-being. Without the actual separation like leaving the office at the end of the workday, it can be difficult not to let work sneak into your personal life.
To stay happy and keep a healthy work-life balance while working from home, you’ll need to implement some rules and boundaries.
Designate a Workspace at Home
Creating a dedicated workstation will save you from searching for contracts in your sofa cushions or looking for invoices in a stack of papers on your kitchen table. Without a designated place for work, you’ll end up with your entire house becoming the workplace.
Working from home gives you freedom and a flexible working environment, so treat yourself when equipping your home office. Opt for a standing desk and an anti-fatigue standing mat for more comfort.
Make sure you have adequate lighting to allow you to concentrate and a flat surface. It can be your kitchen table, a desk, or somewhere else, but avoid your bed!
Creating a workspace within your home will help your mind better understand when it’s time for work mode, and when it’s time to unwind and turn to personal life.
Establish Clear Working and Personal Hours
Knowing when to call it a day is vital when working from home. Otherwise, you may end up getting up with your work and going to bed while still finishing some of the errands. And this is the road to a major burn-out if it lasts for a while.
To avoid mental and physical exhaustion and to set boundaries, decide on the time of the day when you will put away all your work, no matter what. Set clear working hours and stick to them. If not, you may end up with work spilling into your home life.
This will also allow your body and mind to transition into relaxation and get a good night’s sleep will help you rest and increase your productivity the next day.
Pro tip: to get your mind off work and relax after a busy day, it’s best if you set aside time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a long period, reading a book you like or watching your favorite show will do just fine.
If you use chat apps, make sure to sign out when off the clock.
Take Some Time off to Recharge
At least one day a week without work is a necessity to recharge and take care of your mental and physical health. No checking in, no checking emails, just unplug from work completely.
Although it’s sometimes unavoidable to work on weekends, try not to make a habit out of it since it will surely reflect in your productivity and energy levels.
Also, while spending most of your days at home, it is important to prioritize your physical and mental health. So, how do you do that while not setting a foot out of your home?
The alternative you can take advantage of is to invest in a home gym, and exercise whenever it’s convenient for you. A home gym gives you the freedom to build it around your needs and preferences. Nowadays, everyone looks for gym equipment that is noise-free, from quiet rowing machines to treadmills – everything is available online.
And if you poke around for some great deals, it doesn’t have to be a pricey endeavor!
Set Your Priorities Straight and Stick to the Schedule
When you work from home, there is a never-ending list of house chores like washing the dishes, doing laundry, or grocery shopping besides the usual workload. Every remote worker has been there: stressing about how they’ll manage all of the things that need to be done.
To stay focused on your work, you need to prioritize urgent to-dos, giving your workload primacy over other tasks. Block distracting apps and websites and close non-work related tabs. You can even stop the mail from incoming for a while with Inbox Pause.
This will allow you to concentrate on work.
If you live with roommates or a partner, ask them to jump in and help you with the errands that cannot be delayed while you devote yourself to the job.
Multitasking Is a Bad Idea
When you work from home and have a huge workload, you may be tempted to try to squeeze in fun stuff on an evening or a weekend when you have to work.
If you’ve invited some friends over and you need to clean your house, prepare some refreshments, and finish an article in a couple of hours, the chances are that article isn’t going to be your best work.
This also means more work later, since it will take longer to revise it. So, what’s the solution when you need some time off?
Maintaining mental health is important, so if you need a break, commit yourself to do something fun or simply take a nap, whatever you feel you need more. Otherwise, dedicate enough time to do your work properly and enjoy yourself after you’ve done with your workload for the day.
Be patient and kind to yourself. It takes time to build the right habits and set firm work-life boundaries when you work from home. Every step counts, and while you’re moving in the right direction, just keep going.
Written by Alexander Hunkin, an Australian-based startup advisor with in-depth experience in growing business. When he isn’t busy working, you can find him cooking exotic meals, scuba diving, and cycling.
Our contributors are digital nomads who worked remotely from coworking spaces, coffee shops, libraries, and even beachside around the world.