During the past several months, many of us have found ourselves working from home. While this has tons of benefits and advantages, there are also a lot of challenges that can arise from it. I know that for myself, I launched a new business during the COVID pandemic. In some ways, the timing has been great because I have been able to dive-in deeply, without much outside distraction. But, on the other hand, I sometimes feel like I have no escape. I am always working. My home is my corporate office. Detaching from work has become increasingly difficult for me.
Because of this, I have had to spend some energy and effort putting strategies into place to bring greater balance into this area of my life. How can I disconnect from one role and step into another when every part of my life occurs in the same physical space? Here are some ideas that have helped me…
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
If the first three rules of real estate are “Location, Location, Location,” the first three rules of working from home are “Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries.”
This may be the easiest to conceptualize, but often not so easy to put into place. Try to carve out a place for work. Make that the primary place you engage in your work tasks, so that your job doesn’t start to seep into all parts of your home. Also, close doors, create notes or door hangers to give signs and gentle reminder to the rest of the family that you are in work time, and honor the time that you are working.
Make sure to separate work time from family time and personal time. It’s okay to keep different or less structured hours than if you were going into a different environment to work. However, it’s important to set your times and stick to them. You need breaks. You need a “quitting time” each day.
Boundaries With Yourself
I think for most of us, this presents the biggest challenge. If you have decided that you will not answer work emails after dinner-time, then don’t! When you take your lunch break, actually take a rest from work to enjoy your meal. Know that you need to nurture yourself and that doing so will improve the quality of your work during the hours you engage in it.
Make Your Space Special
One of my favorite work from home (or even from outside of home) strategies is to make your workspace uplifting. Bring in candles. Add comfy seating. Invest in music speakers. If you are going to be spending a majority of your weekdays in a certain physical environment, it can make such a positive difference in your days and weeks to love that environment. Small efforts here can yield huge results.
Find Time for Interaction with Others
Working from home can sometimes be a very lonely experience. The “water cooler chats,” office lunches, and birthday celebrations in the break room provide a sense of community among co-workers that is lost when we work in isolation from our homes. This makes it more important to join networks, have virtual happy hours with friends, or find other ways to bring social interaction into your days. We humans were designed to live in communities. Our emotional well-being needs to stay at the top of our priorities, even when we have to find creative ways to do so.
For me, personally, I enjoy the freedom and comfort that comes from working from home. However, the busier I am, the more I understand the need to discipline myself while doing so. I’d also love to hear from you—share your experiences and ideas in the comments below!