Setting healthy boundaries.
Has work been encroaching on your home life without you even noticing? Whether it’s to respond to emails here and there during evenings and weekends, your job shouldn’t be creeping into your personal time. To work from home can be challenging for your personal life. That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries from the get-go to prevent these little moments from taking over.
The simple fact of bringing work home shouldn’t mean it has to take over your life. Your mind needs time out from work. To create this space that’s so vital to your mental health, boundaries are essential. And the only one who can set them is you, because only you know how much you can handle. Listen to yourself, especially when your mind and body are saying it’s time to “leave the office.”
Below are 5 tips to help you set boundaries for a better work-life balance when working from home.
1. Avoid downloading Teams or Zoom to your phone (unless it’s absolutely necessary)
It’s very easy to download collaboration apps to your mobile phone. Teams, Zoom and other similar platforms were developed to offer easy, instant access to work across a range of devices. They’re particularly useful when you’re on the go during office hours and don’t want to miss an important call. However, they also keep you connected far longer than you need to be, continuing to send you notifications long after you’ve clocked out, like during evenings and weekends. So you need to ask yourself: “Do I really need this app on my phone? Can I leave my working life on my computer?” This will help you take better control of your life.
2. Respond to emails during office hours
With your computer or mobile phone within such easy reach, it’s easy to glance at your emails at any time of day. However, it’s crucial you do so only within business hours. Constantly letting work into your life, even if it’s just to dash off a quick email, will prevent you from achieving a proper work-life balance. Shutting down your computer in the evening or closing your laptop is a great way to avoid this harmful behaviour and protect your mental health.
3. Don’t bring your computer into the bedroom
Your bedroom is the only place you should never take your work. It’s your sanctuary, peaceful space for sleep and privacy—two vital ingredients to balancing the professional and personal spheres. The minute you bring work into the bedroom, it’ll follow you into bed, your dreams and your subconscious. The best and easiest solution is to simply leave your laptop on your desk.
4. Manage your time well
Keeping an agenda with a well-organized daily schedule can certainly help keep your personal and work life separate. Get into the habit of noting down the time you spend working: this will help you approximate your work hours in advance. The same applies to personal pursuits. By focusing your energy and attention on the right things at the right times, you’ll be more productive and efficient. You’ll also find yourself enjoying your leisure time more fully when work is no longer in the back of your mind.
5. Switch off notifications when taking a break
Whenever you break for lunch or to do one of our recommended 4 physical exercises for home workers, deactivate the notifications on your phone and computer. Whether you take 30 minutes or a full hour, give your brain some breathing space by switching off completely for the entire break. As we suggest in our 6 tips for healthy work-at-home habits, the lunch hour is important for the simple reason that taking a complete break in the middle of the day boosts productivity enormously.
In short, we recommend the following to maintain a healthy work-life balance:
- Use Zoom/Teams as little as possible on your phone (or avoid downloading them altogether)
- Respond to emails during office hours only
- Never bring your computer into the bedroom
- Keep an organized agenda
- Turn off notifications during breaks