“Don’t bother me, I’m working.”
With the rise of remote work and the flexibility it offers, finding a healthy work-life balance has become more important than ever.
However, when your work and personal space merge in the same location, it can be challenging to separate the two and effectively stop working. The concept of 'boundary' becomes uber relevant.
In my coaching practice, there have been numerous discussions between family members that find themselves on each end of the stick.
What started as a great idea for some has turned into a monster that has invaded their stability and sanctity of home and can affect not only each member of the household, but can also lead you to that 'burnout' path.
Help is on the way!
Here are some practical tips to help you establish those must-needed clear boundaries, boost productivity, all the while achieving a healthier work-life integration.
Define a Dedicated Workspace
Creating a designated workspace within your home is crucial for signaling the start and end of your workday. I’ve been guilty of this. Grabbing a cup of coffee, sitting in my pjs and setting up shop on the kitchen counter is so easy and convenient to do.
It works until it doesn’t. All of a sudden, I get a work call and then someone turns on the blender, or the Amazon man rings the doorbell, the grandchildren come bounding through the front door, or someone else sets up next to me and begins to edit videos. Chaos ensues with a Capital C.
Choosing a separate room or a specific area where you can set up your office and close the door is essential. Did you hear the 'close the door'? You need a door. Doors make for great boundaries;)
This helps establish a clear physical boundary between your work and personal life, keeping us focused, and making it easier to mentally disconnect when the workday is over.
Establish a Consistent Routine
Developing a regular work schedule is vital for maintaining productivity and effectively stopping work when you're done for the day. Trust me, it will also save your marriage and your children will get excited when the clock strikes ‘done’.
Set specific start and end times, just as you would in a traditional office setting. Stick to this routine as closely as possible to condition your mind to associate certain hours with work, and others with personal time.
Create a Transition Ritual
Introduce a transitional activity or ritual that signifies the end of your workday. This could be something as simple as taking a short walk, meditating, or changing into comfortable clothing.
Engaging in such activities helps shift your mindset from work mode to personal mode, allowing you to unwind and mentally detach from work-related thoughts.
Set Clear Boundaries
The key word here is 'clear'. Communicate your working hours and availability with your colleagues, clients, and family members. Clearly define the boundaries of when you are "on the clock" and when you are off. Let others know that just because you're physically present at home, it doesn't mean you're available for work-related tasks outside of your designated working hours.
If you struggle with setting boundaries, check out Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. When to say yes, when to say no isn’t always easy, they can help with implementable action steps to put your yes’s and no’s in place.
Power Down and Disconnect
At the end of your workday, switch off your work devices and put them away. This action physically removes the temptation to continue checking emails or finishing up tasks.
Additionally, consider setting notification boundaries on your personal devices to avoid constant interruptions and maintain a healthy separation between work and personal life. They will stop popping up into your personal time if you tell them not to:)
Engage in Non-Work Activities
Fill your after-work hours with activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Pre-prepare. Engaging in hobbies, spending quality time with loved ones, exercising, or pursuing personal interests helps you shift your focus away from work and enjoy your downtime.
Make a conscious effort to engage in activities that nourish your well-being and enhance your overall work-life balance.
Create a To-Do List for the Next Day
Before you finish your workday, take a few moments to create a to-do list for the following day. At the top of the to do list, write the date for the next day.
This practice helps offload pending tasks from your mind and allows you to mentally transition out of work mode, knowing that your priorities are already set for the next workday.
A well-balanced harmony between work and personal life is possible.
Through the application of these strategies, you can effectively 'stop working' when you work from home, promoting increased productivity, mental well-being, and a more fulfilling personal life.
Remember, creating clear boundaries, establishing routines, and prioritizing self-care are key to achieving a harmonious work-life integration when your professional and domestic environments coincide.