5 Tips to Setting Boundaries When You Work From Home
Right now I work from home. If anyone has ever done this before, or is doing this now, you know that it’s not as easy at it seems. In my situation it can be even more so difficult because I live with my fiancé who also works from home and his mother who is always home.
Today for example, I was working on finishing up a communications plan for a client and out of nowhere I hear yelling reverberating through out the entire house saying “TURN IT OFF”. As I was just sitting on my computer, minding my own business, I had no idea what was going on. Being in mid-thought I ignored the yelling for a few seconds while I finished. After what was at least 5 “TURN IT OFFs”, his mother finally shut off what turned out to be washer.
I went downstairs to investigate and it turns out the pipe that the water from washer drains through had a heavy leak – right over the shelving unit where I just put away all of our halloween decor and where we keep our extra Kleenex/paper towel/ziplock etc. My fiancé happened to be in the basement and noticed it. Luckily there wasn’t any damage other than a couple soiled boxes of Kleenex, but we had to move everything to fix it.
After the leak incident, his mother came to my workroom asked me to check over a purse she had fixed. My fiancé then came and talked to me about some random things. I did however manage to finish my communications plan, but there are still several things on my plate that I need to finish today.
5 tips to setting boundaries when working at home
1. Put your ‘work zone’ in a low traffic area or its own room
I knew that if I was in a high traffic area that I would constantly be ‘bothered’ by my fiancé and his mother. They love to talk, which is great, but not when I’m trying to work. I was originally set up in the dining room but it’s right next to the kitchen and in clear view if you are going up or down the stairs. It worked for a bit but I wanted something a bit more private.
I am lucky that this house had a formal sitting room that has not been used since I moved in. I repurposed it into my craft room/office. I have my desk as far away from the entrance as possible so that when they walk by they can’t see me unless they look into the room. This discourages them from including me in a conversation unless it is really important.
2. Remind them you are working
When you work at home it is easy to get distracted by things that need to be done in the house. I have to sometimes remind them (and myself) that during the day from around 8am to 4pm I will have limited time to do things. With that being said, working from home allows a lot of flexibility which I like, but it is so easy to get caught up in other things. By setting a time frame, whether you follow it loosely or to the minute, it allows you to allocate your workload and give those around you (and yourself) boundaries.
3. Set an alarm clock and have set work hours
As I mentioned above, this is important, not just for those around you, but for yourself as well. It is challenging for myself to stay on track if I don’t set my hours because I also get easily distracted doing other things. Setting an alarm in the morning everyday during the week is the first step to creating a schedule that you can work with.
4. Making a daily task list
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Virgo, or if it’s just me but I love lists. Daily task lists keep me on track, focused, and they alleviate my stress. I like to make my task list on Friday’s so I can enjoy the weekend and know what the following week will look like. I usually update it daily but having an overarching plan for the week keeps me calm. I usually have a book that I write it all down in but it’s currently out of commission so I have a weekly calendar printed from word that I fill out.
5. Stay motivated by getting dressed everyday and taking a work out break.
Studies have shown that getting dressed impacts your daily motivation and productivity. I say this as I am wearing yoga pants and a sweater with no make up, but I did shower and brush my hair (Go me!). I do believe this though and dressing up is a great way to make yourself feel good.
When working at home, especially if it’s on a computer, you aren’t moving around as much so working out is important. I hate working out because sweating and breathing heavy is the last thing I want to do. I do however try to stretch for 15 minutes a day and ride our recumbent bike for at least 20 minutes. This really gives me a boost of energy that makes me more productive. I’ve also found that 30 day challenges can be really helpful. I usually recruit a friend or two to do them with me over the phone so we can motivate each other.