How to Set Boundaries between Work and Home When Working from Home
November 5, 2020
As this “everyone at home” scenario draws on much longer than we anticipated, here are some best practices to consider as you continually recalibrate your work-life balance and set boundaries between work and home, even though those two things might be the same physical location right now.
- Find what works for you. In my search for guidance, I often came across the tip to keep regular hours, so your brain recognizes the pattern and knows it’s time to focus. I am working at home with my husband and three-year-old daughter, Gloria, and keeping regular hours just is not possible for my family right now. It’s important to recognize that not everything will work for your specific situation. Or maybe something that doesn’t work now may be worth trying again a few weeks from now when circumstances have changed.
- Stick to a dedicated workspace. It doesn’t have to be a home office with a chair and desk. Just find a spot that you can claim. Even if you aren’t competing with anyone else in your home for workspace, having one regular place to work helps differentiate between space to work and space to rest.
- Overcommunicate your needs to your boss, teammates, and your family. Speak regularly about what needs to get done and how everyone can best make it happen. Just yesterday, my husband and I had competing video calls that we weren’t aware of until the calls started. The more proactive your communication is the sooner you can catch potential issues and solve them in advance.
- Create visual signs to help communicate boundaries. If you have kids at home, have them help you create a sign to hang on the door when you’re busy or on a phone call.
- Schedule down time and protect it. Lately I’ve started blocking 15 minutes on my calendar during the day to step outside or walk the dog. During the summer, I was good about taking a walk every day. But as it gets colder and darker earlier in the day, I must work harder to make sure I get some fresh air. Doing it in the middle of day means I have a greater chance of seeing the sun and get a chance to exhale before jumping back into the fray.
And when in doubt, remember tip #1: do what works for you.