Whether you are new to working from home or have been doing so for several years, you have probably noticed that the line between work and relaxation is often blurred. How to set healthy boundaries, even if your office is in your living room.
Many people think working from home is a happy and relaxing escape from office life. While teleworking definitely has its benefits, it is also quite common to find yourself working much more than you did in the office. Before you know it, check your email well after midnight and manage projects on your free days.
If work feels like it̵7;s taking over your life, cultivate these habits to help you regain your freedom!
Wear work clothes
If you work from home, it does not make sense to wear slacks and clothes every morning. There is still some value in wearing clothes that are different from the ones you wear when you relax.
But they can still be comfortable. For example, consider changing out of your pajamas and into some leggings before you start working out. Then, when the day is over, you can change back to your PJs.
Your “work clothes” may not even look very different, but changing before and after work will help you maintain the line between work and downtime.
Have a start and end time
Many teleworkers are responsible for when they start and end work. But this wonderful flexibility can sometimes lead to you working on and off all day and night.
Choosing a specific time to start and stop working helps. If you are doing your best work after 2pm, it may be time to start. You can even start at different times on different days. Regardless of which schedule you choose, specific start and end times create clear boundaries.
Easy to work
Once the start time you have chosen will not feel like you have to jump to the biggest tasks of the day. Like an athlete, give yourself some time to warm up before tackling your most challenging projects.
For example, consider starting the day with some relatively simple but necessary activities, such as filling out your journal. The success you feel when you have crossed these simple things off your list will give you some momentum for the harder things.
You may prefer to take a few minutes before logging into your work chat app, so you do not have to start the day bombarded by messages.
When the day is over, you can also unpack some simple tasks to facilitate the work. This will help you move from work to personal time.
Manage your messages
Work communication apps, like Slack, are wonderful. But you are out of time and messages are still pouring in, it’s hard to forget work, even for a little while.
Fortunately, you can easily change the settings on apps like these. Turn off all notifications on weekends, holidays and public holidays, so that you are not tempted to check messages and be sucked back to work.
Stick to designated work surfaces
You probably have a specific place in your home that serves as your office, even if it is not an entire room. Remote workers often find themselves working in bed, at the kitchen table or even out on the patio.
It is actually a good idea to replace the work surface from time to time. But you will be able to create better boundaries if you specify some specific places in your home for work.
For example, you can limit yourself to your desk for focused tasks and a comfortable living room chair for less work. This gives you an option to change things up when you feel like it.
Having designated workspaces makes it easier not to think about work when you are away from these areas.
Take a break
Sure, there may be days when you have to work through lunch, but try not to make it an everyday thing.
Take at least half an hour from work every day for lunch, and even sprinkle on some 10- or 15-minute coffee breaks. These short but accurate breaks will help you refresh your focus and make it easier to complete the day’s tasks.
Make plans after work
Even if you can not go out and see people in person at the moment, you can try to schedule a virtual happy hour or a family evening just after your work day ends.
When you have social plans to look forward to, it gives you an incentive to finish your work on time so that you can actually relax for the rest of the day.
Buy work-specific deliveries
Nice office supplies that are fun to use can be a small but effective way to stay focused. The use of work-specific accessories also warns you that it is working time and that it is time to cool down when you put them away.
Get yourself a nice new planner, a nice pen or a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Everything you need or can use in an average working day will do.
Take out your supplies when it’s time to start working and hide them when you’re done. Your mind will then associate these things with work and help you harness your focus when it’s time to start the day. When you put them away, you will also remove your mental connection to the job.
When you only associate certain times, spaces and objects with work, it is much easier to separate your professional and private time. Even if you do not have a separate room you can use as a home office, these tips will help you keep clear boundaries clear.
Are you looking for some inspiring new spaces to enjoy while working from home? Check out how you can create a home office outdoors!