5 Ways to Create Boundaries While Working From Home
It’s a beautiful morning! You wake up after the first snooze. That might be a record. You work through the day. You edit the latest report at Olympian track star speed and get everything done before the day is done. Ahhh, you’ve crossed the finish line! You get up to go take a victory lap around the neighborhood to remind yourself that the outside world still exists. Never thought you would miss that tedious commute… until now.
You come back in, refreshed and ready to pick up that novel you’ve been dying to read… or more likely to scroll Insta for 30 minutes (hey, no judgment!) and you get a Slack notification sent from your boss at 11:02 PM.
Well, hey, technically, you’re still at the “office”, so you might as well respond. You don’t want to be that person. The one who clocks out exactly on the hour like you’re 16 again and begrudgingly working at some random store in the mall, just so you can afford the prom dress you’re dying to wear for your magical night with Tom.
You’ve finally finished reminiscing about Prom Tom and doing the work your boss requested… annnnnd now it’s past your bedtime.
The days run together and your valuable “me” time is slipping away. Wasn’t WFH supposed to give you more of a work/life balance? Here are five ways to create boundaries when you’re WFH, so you can get your time back.
- Have a start time. And an end time. Yes, your current work life won’t be exactly like your high school job manning the mall kiosk (andhopefully it’s far from it!), but it should still have structure. Setting an in and out time makes it easier to create goals throughout the day, and actually achieve them. It also will allow you the flexibility to make OOO plans and stick to them. Of course, depending on the nature of your job or industry, there may always be fires to put out or additional work to be done off-hours, but trying to keep a semblance of a schedule is the key to maintaining a semblance of sanity as well.
- Choose an end of day activity. A walk, a daily phone call, or even an end-of-workday victory dance will do the trick. Creating a routine to wrap up your day will help signal to your brain that you’re transitioning into OOO mode.
- Set the mood. Just as it’s important to create an end-of-workday routine, it’s helpful to have one to start your day off right! Whether you’re into journal writing, lighting a candle and putting on ocean sounds (scent is a powerful way to wake up your senses and get ‘em into work mode), or just making sure your kids know not to bother you when the door is closed… it’s helpful to set your work mood to help you get focused. We are creatures of habit, after all.
- Tell friends and family your work hours. Sure, while it doesn’t feel amazing to ignore fun texts from friends and family throughout the day, it’s important to keep distractions at bay. Studies say that it takes an average of about 23 minutes to get back on task after a distraction, so feel free to turn on that “Do Not Disturb” or go ahead and mute that group chat. Your BFFs will understand.
- Tell your team when you’re OOO. It’s the best way to not feel pressure from those late-night emails. Communication is key and there’s no shame about signing off for the day. It’s what you would do if you were working from the office. Your life outside of the office is a big part of what makes you, you! And you are a valuable part of your team’s success, just the way you are.
Creating WFH boundaries is necessary to your success, as well as to your sanity. Your time OOO is just as valuable as your time at work. Now go enjoy all that beautiful balance in your life!
Allie Demopoulos is a Content Copywriter at Surprise.com. A writer and producer, she believes that humor is the greatest tool and that the best of anything–comedy, music, stories–are experienced in basements. When she’s not creating, you can find her in the electric streets of Manhattan, a place she feels lucky to call home.