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Tips for Setting Boundaries When Working from Home

By Karley from Life of Kar

You’re sitting at your desk/kitchen table/bed, and you are READY to work. You have your 12 tabs on your laptop open and ready, your hot cup of coffee is next to you, and you even put on real clothes for the day. You crank out 8 hours of work and figure you’re already home—might as well work until you go to bed. By the end of the week, you realize you have put in well over 60 hours of work.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Although there are countless perks to working from home, it also comes with some challenges. Unlike working in an office environment where you have set working hours, working from home makes it so easy to work constantly throughout your days and nights. 

The secret to avoiding burnout when working from home is setting boundaries. If you want to make the most of your work situation without it interfering with your life, enjoy these tips for setting boundaries when working from home.

Check your email only at the beginning and end of your workday. 

Email is one of those things that makes us feel productive, even if we aren’t actually doing anything productive in our Inboxes. As easy as it is to feel like you need to respond to every email within an hour, you absolutely don’t. 

Instead of constantly checking email throughout your day when it can interfere with more pressing tasks, check it at the beginning and end of your workday. This will ensure that you don’t miss anything important and can respond quickly without it interrupting any of your deeper work.

Keep your phone on do not disturb or turn it off.

Some people assume that because you are working from home, you should always be accessible. That is not the case! In an office environment, you probably wouldn’t check your phone frequently. The same goes for working from home.

Try to keep your phone on do not disturb or turn it off. That way, those pesky notification sounds won’t be pulling you away from your work. If someone really needs to reach you, they will find a way to do so.

Have set office hours and communicate those hours to others.

One of the best boundaries you can set for yourself while working from home is your office hours. Try to start and end your workday around the same times each day if possible. This will allow for more time for your morning and evening routines, family, friends, and any other obligations and responsibilities you have.

Be sure to communicate these hours to others. People should know when they can and can’t expect to hear from you. In addition, it may be helpful to communicate these hours to a loved one who can help hold you to them.

Schedule in your lunch break.

Lunch breaks are pretty necessary in the 9-5 world and the same goes for working from home. Pencil in your lunch break on your calendar. Keep that time sacred and try to not work through it. At that time, you are unavailable to others.

What do you do during your lunch break? Go for a walk, take a nap, do a workout, make yourself a healthy meal, or just relax. Take that time for yourself and do whatever you need that day. 

Turn an auto-responder on your email.

You may still be stressed about only checking your email in the mornings and evenings. To solve this, turn an auto-responder on during the day! This message should state when you check and respond to emails. 

An auto-responder takes the weight off your shoulders of wondering whether or not you are replying fast enough and communicates your boundary to the sender.

Set time limits on your social media applications.

Have you ever wondered how much time you actually spend on social media? It’s probably much more than you think, and most of it is probably mindless scrolling. To avoid this, start setting time limits on your social media applications.

If you set a half hour time limit on Instagram, for example, you probably won’t want to waste that during your workday. You would prefer to save that for before bed, when you are relaxing. Setting time limits on your social media applications helps you become more aware of your usage and prevents you from scrolling all day long.

Shut your work computer down in the evenings.

Adding the extra hurdle of turning your computer back on again might be enough to stop you from checking in “one last time” at 10PM. It takes much more effort than just opening up your laptop, checking your Inbox, then closing it.

Shutting your work computer down symbolizes an end to your workday and a start to your evening. It can be a signal for you to turn off the workday stress and focus on being present with your family and friends.

Have a separate work space in your home.

Have you ever worked from your bed and then had trouble falling asleep at night? You laid there exhausted, but all you could think about was work. This is because your brain isn’t sure if it should associate your bed with sleep or with work.

Having a separate work space in your home is crucial. This work space might not be an entire office—it could be your kitchen table or a desk in your room. No matter what you choose, try to have a space dedicated for working, so that your work stress doesn’t seep into other areas of your life. Avoid working from the bed or couch, as those are typically places you relax and rest.

Final Thoughts

Setting boundaries is not restricting your life, but instead it is creating the structure necessary for you to have more freedom. Be sure to communicate your boundaries to others and be open and honest about them.

Most people will respect them once they are aware of them, and it might empower them to set their own boundaries too. These tips will be a great starting point for you to begin setting healthy boundaries, resulting in a more productive and enjoyable working from home life!

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