How to set boundaries when you work from home

Boundaries make for happy, healthy…everything! We need boundaries at work so we get results. We need boundaries for driving so no one gets hurt. We need boundaries in relationships so we get what we need. So when it comes to working from home, you are tasked with balancing your home life and your work life. Unfortunately, both want things from you that may conflict with each other.

This post will help you set healthy boundaries for yourself, your job, and others while you work from home.

Don’t Answer That Email

The average professional spends 11 hours a week reading and responding to work emails and most people check their email 15 times a day. But listen, there’s no rule that says you have to answer an email as soon as you get it. Especially after work hours.

The thing about working from home is that it quickly turns into working all the time. Normally, there is a defined cutoff from work as you shut down for the day. When you work from home you have to create your own cutoff. To combat the email problem and get more done, set a dedicated time to check emails. Then, don’t go over it.

This will also train people not to expect an immediate response.

Get Off the Notification Train

Instant messaging work apps were created to counteract time wasted on email and searching for information. However, simultaneous conversations that have nothing to do with you can quickly land you in notification purgatory. Free yourself by hitting the mute button.

For every distraction, it takes an average of 25 minutes to recover and get back to your task. Combat this by setting one notification at least every hour (or an interval that works for you) to check if there are any messages you’ve missed. This will help you reclaim your mental energy and get more done during work hours.

Have a Talk With Your Family and Then Do It Again and Again

The idea here is to reinforce your boundaries with your family. Working from home but being unavailable is often a hard concept for some to understand, especially young children. So anytime someone wanders into your space or sends a text with a request, gently remind them that you are not available for conversation.

Let your family know what you need when you work from home. Whether it’s silence, trading parenting duties, or setting workload expectations, establishing these parameters upfront will help avoid hurt feelings later.

Here are some quick ideas for working from home with children:

  • Take turns with your partner fulfilling your child’s needs
  • Work before your children wake up or after they go to bed
  • Hire a babysitter for a few hours or find a circle of parents to trade duties with

Boundaries force you to be creative but they also free you to fulfill everyone’s needs and take care of responsibilities.

Take Mindful Breaks

At times, working from home can cause tension in relationships, especially if your work bleeds into family time. It can start to feel like you are never available. In these cases, you’ll have to be more deliberate about setting aside time with family. Take lunch breaks with your family and go for 15 minute walks every few hours. Once work is done, put away your devices and be present with your family again.

Look for opportunities to be thoughtful that don’t require a ton of effort. Like making morning coffee or a quick breakfast for example:

Putting away your devices ensures that the time you spend together is actually valuable.

Not everyone has the benefit of a home office. During the pandemic, dining tables, walk-in closets, and even back patios were impromptu workstations. Wherever you work, remember to take the time to care for yourself. Small things like going on walks or other mindfulness practices will help you unwind and be more effective for the new day. Check out our specially curated recipes that are easy and nourishing so you can face each day with the fuel you need. And as always, don’t forget the a2 Milk™.

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