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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Boundaries in the Work From Home World

Okay we have something that we feel that we can share. It isn’t something we would have ever thought we could do, but as the world has changed, we have made this “sacrifice”. When we work from home, we wear sweatpants and comfy slippers.

We know that a lot of you are in the same situation. The ease in your wardrobe can bring a more relaxing feel to the day. Working from home has given us greater freedom to settle into our work days in ways that previous generations would never have dreamed.

So as lovely as it is to experience more physical comfort, there can be a psychological downside to working from home. When your office is literally a 30 second walk away from your breakfast table, it can feel like there is no separation between work and home life. Over time, this can increase stress levels. Our brains like clear transition time and a 30 second walk may not be enough to ease our brains into the world of work.

This is one of the biggest challenges of today's workforce. Before, the drive home created a natural separation between our business and personal lives. Now, we have to develop strategies that help us get energized for work and in turn help us decompress at the end of the day.

We have some suggestions that can be helpful as you create your own boundaries between home and work.

Create Drive Time: One way to achieve separation is to create “drive time”. As mentioned above, in the “old days” people had to drive into work giving them an opportunity to gear up for the day. Conversely, the drive home helped people switch focus to homelife.

If you work from home, you can create that “drive time”. Walk into your office 5-10 minutes before the day starts. Listen to some music, relax into a short meditation, do some yoga or spend time on a hobby. It can be anything as long as it is totally unrelated to work. At the end of the day do the same thing before your ”drive home”. If your job has a lot of computer work, we suggest that you do not spend this time on the computer. Providing different sensory input will be a better brain break.

To try and squeeze all of the productivity out of our day, we can often look at the clock and say, “Oh, I only have 5 more minutes before my day starts, might as well throw in that load of laundry.” Or at the end of the day, you may find yourself saying, “I might as well get that email done in these last 10 minutes.”

What will be more beneficial for your mental health is to say,” Let me take that 5 minutes and give my brain a break so I can bring my best self to what my day has to offer.”

Separate Your Space: As much as possible, have your work and home in separate spaces. If you don’t have a home office, designate a consistent space in your house to conduct business. When we start to distribute our work life all over the place, it is hard for your brain to create the healthy boundary that it needs.

Create Structure: We advocate the use of alarms when you are working from home. Use these alarms to segment your time. There can be pressure to multitask when you work from home. However, study after study has shown that humans can’t really multitask effectively.

Create your to do list at the beginning of the day. Include both business and personal tasks in the order that you want to do them. Use alarms to stay focused on the task at hand. Set the clock for the desired amount of time when you begin. When the alarm goes off, move to the next task on your list. These alarms allow your brain to understand when to focus and when to transition. This will make you more effective and your brain less stressed.

Give these ideas a try and see what works for you.

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