Creating boundaries when you work from home

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If you’ve never had to work from home for an extended period, then the past few months have either been very trying, or a revelation.

If you have young children, prefer the structure of an office routine, or crave interacting with colleagues and clients, then you probably don’t love working from home.

But there are clear advantages, if you separate your work and home life effectively.

Employ social distancing techniques

Your starting point is to allocate a dedicated workspace. Identifying it as such, helps you and your family know that there are boundaries that separate work time and family time.

The first prize is to use an outside room or building, even your garage, as your office. If that’s not an option, try to convert a room in your house into an office.

A dedicated workspace allows you to compartmentalise, without which you could start to feel overwhelmed, because you can’t disconnect from a work mindset.

Clock in, clock out

The other important discipline that helps to create a sense of work time instead of family time is to keep regular office hours.

For a start, clocking in and out at set times helps you to focus and direct your energies where they’re needed. But at the same time, this is an important signal to your family that you might be home, but you’re not to be disturbed.

Keeping regular hours also helps to keep you sane, because it’s very easy for work matters to run beyond office hours. This will only increase your sense of perpetually being at work, which is not a good thing – knock off at the same time every day.

It’s important to take regular breaks in your day too. A break every hour is a good recommendation to follow. If you like, you can use that break to deal with family our household matters. A brief distraction is way better for your productivity than slogging away for 14 hours a day.

Remember to disconnect

The fact that you can check email and respond to it at any time of the day doesn’t mean you should. This is closely related to the above point of keeping office hours but deserves special mention because of how easily digital and social communications interject themselves into our lives.

Unless it’s an absolute business necessity, remove work-related apps and notifications from your personal devices – the temptation to check on or respond to updates is removed if the apps themselves are absent.


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