Well, the “Great Disruption of 2020” (or whatever they will call it in the history books) certainly shook the world by the shoulders. We no longer think about the workplace in the same way. The past year, in fact, has proven that most kinds of work can be done from just about anywhere.
You’ve perhaps always had a home-based business so you already know how to optimise your home working environment for productivity and time management. You probably already have an established routine that works well for you.
Correction: Worked well for you. Now that you have to share your work-from-home bliss with your partner and your neighbours, that bliss is not so blissful anymore. Or productive, for that matter.
Working from home was great when hardly anyone else was doing it: The quiet. The work vibe music of your choosing– peppy pop in the morning and soaring classical in the afternoon. The easy, quick breaks for tea, laundry, and yoga. Even your cat knew when she could interrupt your work for a belly scratch. Your workday was like a well-orchestrated dance.
And now? Your perfect work ambience is crumbling: Your spouse is home all the time and on very loud calls in an adjacent room. Your neighbour has decided to start noisy DIY projects. Friends in the neighbourhood are coming out of the woodwork now, popping by or calling for a ‘quick chat’ in attempts to break up their own workdays from home.
Why Should I Set Work Boundaries?
Setting boundaries while working protects you from burning out and makes working from home sustainable. Without boundaries, you may find yourself on the proverbial hamster wheel. Working, working, working, …. and yet, not getting anything done. Creating healthy workplace boundaries helps you achieve and safeguard work-life balance. A happier you is ultimately, a more productive you.
7 Boundaries to Set When You Work From Home with Other People
1, Assess Your Personal Boundaries
Take this opportunity to think about what you really want and need. Maybe now you prefer working from a co-working space until 3pm instead of working from home all day. Perhaps some renovations are needed to transform your home into a better work-from-home space for you and your spouse.
2, Communicate Upfront
Others cannot know what you need if you don’t tell them. A conversation upfront with your work-from-home space mate or noisy neighbour is important to take back control of your home-working productivity. Learning to have this communication in a healthy way is key to keep the work flowing. You might need to work additionally in an area like assertiveness training to achieve this.
When you share the limits you’ve created with others, everyone becomes invested in helping you achieve your work goals.
3, Create Clear Routines
People who have mentally prepared for their workday start their day more in touch with their work goals and have a more productive day as a result. Rolling out of bed and diving into work may seem like you’re seizing the day, but you’re not actually winning extra time to work. Find your morning routine at home: take a shower, write in your journal while eating breakfast, and plan out your day over your 2nd cup of coffee.
As important as the morning routine, is the evening ritual. Having clear working hours creates a more productive workday. Going for a run, enjoying an evening cocktail, or closing the door to your office can be the signal that the workday is done. You must actively fight “work creep.” Don’t allow your workday to creep into the evening just because you’d like to tick another activity off your “to do” list or you were distracted by household chores during the day. Work smarter, not harder.
4, Delegate Your Tasks
Being the owner of your little empire doesn’t automatically mean you have to be the one to do everything. Seek out people in your life that you trust to share responsibility for certain personal or work tasks. If these people don’t currently exist, start looking for them! Maybe outsourcing is your next step. Remember, your time is spent far more efficiently preparing for a coaching session than it is stumbling over some graphics for your website.
Ask yourself how you can create more space in your workday to use your time better. Direct your awareness to gauge your feelings on the decision.
5, Say No
A seemingly simple “commandment” and yet so hard to follow through on. Think of some scenarios where you tend to say yes to your detriment. Usually it involves taking on too much work. Is there some language you can use that you can practice that allows you to say no in a “good” way? Maybe you have hard nos, like not responding to emails on the weekends, Communicating these boundaries upfront will, hopefully, make others respect them. Regardless, they won’t be surprised when you say no.
The client may always be right, but you don’t always have to agree with them. Taking a stand with a client can show them the extra value of your time and your work.
When you say no to something, it gives you more space to say yes to things that you actually want to do! For example, saying “no” to checking your emails after 5:30pm means you’re saying “yes” to spending more undivided time with your loved ones.
6, Take Some Time Off
As an owner, it’s challenging sometimes to take time off. After all, it is your time that is creating your money. You know when you need the time off to decompress, stay mentally and physically fit, and refill your tank. When you allow your mind and body to rest for a bit, you return to work more productive than before.
7, Use Technology Properly
Technology can be your foe or your friend. Bring your awareness to what is working and not working during your workday. With proper use of technology, you shouldn’t have to struggle on more than needed. Maybe there’s an app for that. For example, an Asana board can help keep your project timelines organised. You can also make nicer and professional graphs for your client presentations with Canva. These are two simple and quick ways to see results fast.
As a business owner, you don’t have the luxury to quit. Maybe your communication or technology skills are holding your ability to set boundaries – and ultimately, your productivity – back. Additional training can help set you right again! By directing our mindfulness to our everyday work, it helps us to set and keep boundaries that make our workday more productive.
When you bring your awareness to what’s really working and not working, it becomes easier to make the adjustments to stay productive.
So how did you go with these boundaries? Do you think you can start applying them to your workday? Let me know in the comments below.
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