As I connect with various colleagues and friends who now work from home, they all say the same thing. “I’m always working. I work all day and all night. The work never ends.” They pause. “You’ve worked from home for years now. How do you manage it?”
I create boundaries for my professional and home-based work.
Some of these colleagues have the added pressure of children around the house. Or checking in with their parents or neighbors. Or, extending those helping hands to people outside their homes.
These are not normal times.
That means, that especially in these abnormal times, we need to create boundaries. There’s always more work—another email, another presentation, another report.
When I think about boundaries for work, I think about where I can use constraints. Consider these possibilities:
- Time boundaries
- Space boundaries
Create Time Boundaries
I have a normal start and end times for my workday. And, if I need “more” time, I can flex when I start and end my day inside a 13-hour window.
I have a 13-hour window of possible work time. I do not work those entire 13 hours.
Why do I protect some of my time? Because I need slack time—time when I’m not working at all.
When I create the “right” balance of work and slack time, my throughput increases. I create more of everything I want to create.
When I work too much, I complain that I get stuck on writing. My slack time refills my creative well so I can create more.
Can I work 13-hour days? Sure, for limited time periods. Not for weeks or months on end.
Time is my go-to boundary. I also use space.
Create Space Boundaries
If you’re working from home with several other people, you might find it difficult to create space boundaries.
Back when my children were young, we had a rule about Mom’s Office Door: When the door was closed, no one was invited in. If the door was open, they could come in.
And, when the children were older, I wanted them to check in with me when they came home from school. We had working agreements.
As they got older, they didn’t want to talk to me, never mind to spend time in my office. (We’re past that again.)
You might not have a door to your office. If not, and if you have young children, consider explaining the problem and asking them for help. If your kids are like mine, they will develop creative possibilities. Those possibilities might mean they spend hours decorating “walls” or “sidewalks” or whatever they decide you need.
Once you create boundaries, you need to respect them.
Respect Your Boundaries
I assume you can create some sort of boundary on your work time. You might need to alternate work and home time throughout the day, but you can.
You need to respect your boundaries. If you don’t respect your boundaries, no one else will.
You might need to create working agreements with your work colleagues. Maybe even house agreements with the people in your life.
You can’t work, work, work all the time. Everyone needs slack time. Create and respect your boundaries.
That’s the question this week: How can you create boundaries?
- How Can You Prevent Your Fear From Limiting Your Options?
- Can We Choose for the Common Good?