Looking to Combat Stress and Fatigue While Working From Home? Set Some Boundaries
Working from home can be as challenging as it is comfortable. Sure, there's no rushing out the door or fighting morning traffic, but it can feel like you're always at work — and that can be exhausting and stressful. When your office is also your home, it can be difficult to stay productive and focused, as well as separate yourself from work at the end of the day.
"Maintaining a successful work/life balance when working from home requires discipline and patience," Bethany Blankenheim, LPC, a therapist at In-Depth Therapy, told POPSUGAR. She suggests establishing a number of boundaries in order to protect yourself emotionally and set yourself up for success. With that in mind, here are five tips for setting boundaries that can keep you from becoming overwhelmed or inefficient when working from home.
Maintain a Schedule
Setting your hours of availability and sticking with them is imperative. Tell those you work with what your specific working hours are, and do not deviate from your schedule. "This sets the expectation for your employees and coworkers as to when you are available to them," Blankenheim said.
Relying on a strict schedule not only helps you maintain boundaries with colleagues but with your family as well, as it lets them know when they have access to you. Plus, "your brain will appreciate the balance between when it needs to work and when it needs to relax or spend time with family," Blankenheim explained.
Take a Lunch Break
"If you were working in the office, you wouldn't be working for eight hours straight, so don't expect yourself to do that while at home," Blankenheim said. A survey from Tork, a brand from the global health and hygiene company Essity, revealed that those who take daily lunch breaks are happier and more efficient at work. Blankenheim noted that "taking short breaks throughout the day will help you return to work with a renewed focus." Use this time to eat away from your workspace. If you can, go for a walk, too, since research shows it can improve both mood and cognitive performance.
Establish a Dedicated Workspace
This doesn't necessarily have to be a formal office. It can be, of course, but if it's simply a desk in your bedroom or living room, that works, too. "What's important here is that the space is only used for working," Blankenheim said. "This way your brain knows when it's time to work and when it's time to relax at home."
A dedicated workspace also sets a boundary for family members or others you share a home with, letting them know that when you are in your workspace, you are working and therefore unavailable to them. "This helps them understand that your work area needs to be quiet and that their activities must take place in another space," Blankenheim said.
While wearing pajamas all day is tempting, it "blurs the lines between working and relaxing," Blankenheim said. She advised you maintain a routine of waking up at the same time each day and getting ready just as you would if you were going into the office. Sure, you can dress more casually, but make sure you don't wear what you slept in. "Wearing clothing that is associated with relaxation can make it difficult to achieve a healthy balance between being at work and living at home," she explained.
According to the Colorado Department of Labor, getting dressed for work can help you transition to a work mindset by creating a "mental boundary between relaxation and work time." The bottom line? Work in appropriate work attire — your pajamas will be waiting for you afterward.
"Clock Out" at the End of the Day
"It's crucial to adhere to this boundary in order to maintain your emotional well-being and achieve a healthy work/life balance," Blankenheim explained. She recommends shutting down your computer, silencing your phone, and leaving your workspace until the following day. "This is the time for you to leave work and join your family," she said — or do whatever helps you feel recharged if you live alone or with roommates.
When work hours are over, be careful not to fall into the trap of seemingly easy tasks like checking voicemail or responding to email. "You must completely step out of work mode," Blankenheim said, noting that this is essential for your mental health and lets your family know they have your undivided attention.