Work life: 3 boundaries to help improve productivity when you work from home in 2022
Being able to work at home is such a blessing. For over eight years I’ve had the joy and privilege to instruct the next generation of teachers often from the privacy of my home as a college professor. Never did I think I would be working solely from home, but what a great opportunity it has been.
When I first started working from home, my youngest son was only four years old. At that point, my fellas had NO idea what working from home meant. Making the adjustment from working outside the home to a stay-at-home mom and now a work-from-home mom has not been easy. Lines have been blurred, expectations were unclear, and I became one overworked woman.
Something had to change. I quickly learned to establish workplace boundaries within the walls of my home. These boundaries have helped me to be more productive and allow me to manage my roles within my home. Now, I don’t have all the answers, but these continue to be my three go to boundaries for work and home.
Work from home boundary #1: Protect your workspace
To help me work from home, we had to be creative in my workspace. When I first starting working-from-home, our dining room suddenly became my workspace. This was an awkward transition. Our fellas were familiar with being able to walk in this room whenever they wanted to play or talk to me. Now, this space was off limits. Right away, I had to establish rules and guidelines for coming into my workspace. Let’s just say this was not easy. Consistency is essential.
Whether you have a traditional office in your home or a makeshift office in the corner of your dining room, protect this workspace. Your workspace is not a place where you eat or you socialize. Nope, this space is strictly for your work. Instead, if you need to eat your lunch go to the table in the kitchen. Want to play with your kiddos, set a timer and go play in the living room, their room, or even outside. Go into their space.
This means being honest with yourself on how your workspace will work for your home and your family. Will you have to share your workspace with your spouse? Are you sharing space with your children for virtual learning? You can only create boundaries when you take into consideration what can realistically work.
By protecting your workspace, you are conditioning your mind to work, and you are conditioning others to identify when you are working.
How you treat your workspace in your home is how you will condition others to respect the spaceTweet
Lines are crossed, and expectations are unclear when we do everything in our workspace. Then, if you are anything like me, you get upset when others don’t respect your workspace. How you treat your workspace in your home is how you will condition others to respect the space. The set workspace also allows your brain to separate “work” from “home.” Working from every room in your home confuses your family when you are “available” and can infer with your ability to rest when you are no longer officially on the clock.
Some questions to consider:
- How can I create boundaries for my workspace?
- How can I make my workspace align with my family dynamics?
- What challenges do I have in creating a workspace for me in my home?
Work from home boundary #2: Protect your schedule
The work schedule I created when my fellas were younger was not the same work schedule I had when my husband was on deployment. In each season, I identified what mattered most, who needed me when, and what allowed me to meet the expectations of my job. Sometimes I had to work later evening hours or even on the weekend if that meant I was able to take the boys to basketball practice or wanted to get more involved in my community.
Whether you are an entrepreneur who can set your hours or you have a fixed 40-hour work schedule, create a work schedule and stick to it. It’s okay if that schedule needs to change weekly. Once you have a set schedule, be sure to communicate your hours with your spouse, family, and other important people in your life.
Open communication about your schedule allows others to know how to respect your time.
For example, I have two nights a week I usually work later. My family and friends know about my work hours, and it helps with preventing miscommunication. If someone texts me on my late night, then he/she is not offended if I don’t respond right away. This person understands I am working and unavailable. Protecting my schedule allows me space to work effectively and productively without feeling torn between my roles in my home and as a professional.
Some questions to consider:
- How can my workspace fit my current family needs?
- What changes can you make to your schedule to prioritize who and what matters?
- How will you infuse joy in your day?
Boundary#3: Protect your rest
Working from home can be complicated when you see all the work you need to do for your profession along with all the chores that still need to be done. You can run your body ragged trying to do your job and trying to maintain your home simultaneously. Nothing gets complete. You have halfway started chores and work not completed to the best of your ability. You are stretching yourself to thin.
For some people, rest is not an issue when they work from home. They spend too much time resting and napping. Then there are people like me who put off rest because you are helping homework, cooking dinner, folding laundry, completing a project for work and taking phone calls with family. Oh, yes! Without those boundaries firmly in place, your productivity will suffer (plus, the bad attitude you picked up because you feel stretched too thin).
You will be the most productive if you protect your rest. Let your mind and your body rest from the expectations of your job and your home. Rest will be hard when you don’t protect your workspace and your schedule. Your brain will not be able to distinguish between when it is time to work and when it is time to recharge. Remember, your body needs rest.
Some questions to consider:
- What does rest mean to me?
- What do I need to rest?
- How can I communicate my needs for rest to others?
Although working from home can be a tremendous blessing for you as an individual and for your family, it can create a unique set of challenges. Learning how to protect your workspace, protect your schedule and protect your rest is a vital way to create boundaries to help you thrive while working from home. Above all, give yourself and your family plenty of grace as you learn and adjust. You are in this together!
Cheering you on,