This blog is part of our 100% Remote Operations: Working From Home series.

100% Remote Operations Series: Boundary-Setting For Yourself ImageThe first obvious difference between the home office and the office-office is location. The new commute may be from the bedroom to the kitchen table, living room, or studio. Although this new location is highly convenient, new telecommuters may not be aware of the necessity to recreate boundaries, which automatically come with traditional office spaces.

While at home, surrounded by things such as the bed, laundry, TV, etc., staying on task and maintaining productivity can be a challenge. Additionally, when away from the office, more responsibility for self-management and productivity is required. Psychologically preparing for work can make all of the difference outside of the office. In this blog, we discuss ways to create boundaries to help stay on track while working from home.

1. Stick to the regular routine.

On a typical day, if the alarm is set to 6 AM, work begins at 8 AM with a cup of coffee, and lunch is taken at noon; keep this same schedule. Maintaining daily routines is not only familiar but signals to the brain that it is time to work. Additionally, these daily routines cut down on overall fatigue, allowing for better focus and increased happiness throughout the day, overall resulting in higher activity and productivity. Routines, which are full of cues, signal to the mind what needs to be done when.

2. Do not work lying down, in bed, or while wearing pajamas.

The brain associates lying down in bed while wearing pajamas with rest, precisely the opposite of productivity at home. Changing into professional attire and working upright directly sets a boundary between the time to rest and the time to work. Professional attire can even slightly elevate both the way you speak and your posture, improving presentability and engagement in their work.

Another consideration is that dressing for work while remaining at home can better prepare for the unexpected. Who wants to receive a message from their boss asking for a last-minute video call while lying in bed wearing sweats? It may be true that over a few days, you can avoid being seen by most while working in the comfort of your own home. However, maintaining professionalism includes the same preparedness and ability to play the part.

3. Establish the ideal workspace.

Although some have the luxury of a fully-functioning office at home, many do not. That being said, simply recreating your office space is helpful, and can be done by situating computer screens similarly, placing a cup of pens in the same spot, adjusting the chair to a similar height, etc. Additionally, the home workspace should be established in a well-lit area at a table or desk. A larger surface is ideal to be able to spread out and visualize documents and take notes in meetings. Physical boundaries such as walls and doors help minimize distractions from the rest of your house, allowing for better focus. Ultimately, knowing which setups work best is essential.

4. Consciously time-manage.

Personal accountability for time and productivity now falls entirely on the shoulders of the employee now working from home. At home, typical aspects of personal life have the potential to creep over and distract from the work at hand. These aspects could be cleaning, communicating with family, social media, etc. Dedicating a certain amount of time per day to other areas aside of work is crucial, circling back to the importance of maintaining your regular daily routine.

Turning off notifications on certain networks may also help with time management. Many people receive a barrage of emails or push notifications throughout the day, having the potential to detract focus from other important projects at hand. Instead of checking them as soon as they are received, prioritize notifications or schedule time throughout the day to check them.

5. Take breaks.

Scheduling breaks into the workday is very important to avoid burnout and allow for the mind to reset and refocus on tasks. The Pomodoro Method is a great way to schedule these breaks into the daily routine. For every 25 minutes worked, take a five-minute break. Once you have done this four times in a row, take a 30-minute break. The Tomato Timer is a free resource to help schedule breaks and effortlessly implement the Pomodoro method.

Keep In Mind

At the moment, many “normal” aspects of daily life have been thrown out the window. When stepping from personal life into professional life, boundary-setting allows for ease during this transition. However, flexibility is also necessary here. Taking projects and tasks day by day helps keep you on track and manage your workload. But, personal well-being is ultimately the most significant consideration, and building your ideal workspace around this is paramount.