This blog post was written by Cassandra Singh, a counselor at Nivati. You can see more of their content on the Nivati platform and on the Nivati blog. If you want to learn more about Nivati, click here.
Since the unexpected pandemic, the workplace and our home lives have merged more than ever. Many jobs transitioned to remote positions and have stayed the same ever since. Working remotely can be enjoyable because it cuts down on commute time and allows the comfort of working in your own home. Yet, remote work isn’t without its cons. It is very easy for work life and home life to intertwine when your home is your workspace.
Having boundaries around your working hours is key to maintaining a proper work-life balance. So, how do you set remote work boundaries around working hours?
How to Set Healthy Boundaries at Work Around Your Working Hours
1. Your remote workspace is your office
First, treat your remote workspace like you are in the office; this can help to set healthy boundaries at work. Having the opportunity to hop on your computer right before your work day technically starts from the comfort of your home can be a good feeling. However, sometimes, you may not be in the mood to work. This can be because of triggering thoughts like “I work from home so I can start my day whenever I want.” Try thinking of your work day like you are going to the office and follow a routine you would normally do if you were going to the office. This can include getting dressed, having breakfast, or even taking a shower before starting work. A morning routine will allow you to feel more awake and ready to start your day.
2. Dedicate a space for remote work
If possible, try to have a separate space for your work. It can be great to work from your bed or sofa where you are comfortable. However, being too comfortable can create a feeling of not wanting to get work done, lead to feelings of tiredness to be more prominent, or cause more distractions. I know for myself when transitioning to a remote job, I had a lot of feelings of laziness when working from my bed. I personally had to switch my work spot several times before finding what worked for me. Try things such as investing in a desk or having one designated area for work if you can. Having a separate space to work can feel like you have a workspace just like you may have in the office. This also ensures that work and home life do not interfere too much with each other, ensuring healthy boundaries for work.
3. Communicate your boundaries
Communication is key. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. If you feel like you are working too much or the job is too stressful for you, speak to a supervisor or higher up to see if they can assist you. You don’t want to be miserable at your job! By speaking up, you will know if you are allowing others to support you and find a situation that works for everyone.
Also, ensure you communicate with your family or friends and ask them to treat working time as if you were in the office unless there is an emergency. This can help set the boundary that working hours are strictly for you to get your job done. Any questions or concerns they have can wait until you finish working.
4. Limit distractions
One of the most important things you can do for yourself during your workday is to limit all distractions you might encounter. Treat working hours as if you were in the office and avoid doing things that you wouldn’t do in the office and are only trying to do because you are home. It is tempting to think that you can complete all your errands and work simultaneously because you are home. Even though this can be accomplished, this can cause you to feel exhausted, anxious, and possibly even lead to burnout. Remember that the errand or in-depth chore around the house can wait until your work day is done, just like you would have to do if in the office. By giving in to this, it can make your workday longer or more stressful.
However, remember that short breaks throughout the day to reload the laundry, let the dog out, or do another small chore can help boost you step away and refresh throughout the day. It is all about finding a balance that works for you and setting healthy boundaries between home life and work life.
5. Time block
If you find that you are struggling with prioritizing work life or home life, try scheduling. Whether you write it out or make promises to yourself mentally, think about what you want to prioritize at the beginning of the day and follow through with it. Make sure to keep your expectations for what you can accomplish in a day realistic. Otherwise, you may end up feeling more stressed. It is also important to know when to end your day. Because your work is so accessible at home, it can be tempting to try to work past typical working hours. Remember that work can be resumed when logging in the next day. Work will always be there, and there will always be tasks. If you are scheduled to work five days a week, eight hours a day, then stick to that schedule. It can be very tempting to reply to that email after work hours or on the weekend. However, you have the option to decide whether or not you want to reply to it. By responding, you are allowing your job to interfere with your life outside of work.
You can also block time on your public-facing work calendar dedicated to focusing time. Google Calendar allows you to add in Focus Time blocks, so others know not to schedule a meeting over it. Having these public-facing blocks on your calendar will also help hold you accountable for how you spend that time.
Working remotely can be a good thing and a bad thing. One of the biggest tips to take away is to treat your remote job like you are in the office. It is essential to know how to set boundaries at work for yourself to complete your work efficiently and take care of your well-being. For more information on this topic, check out the following blog posts:
- How to Set Family and Work-Life Boundaries
- How to Keep Company Culture Strong When all Employees are Remote
- Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely
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