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4 Ways to Set Clear Work-Life Boundaries in the Work From Home Era

Working from home can blur our boundaries between work and life. How do we make sure we respect the space for everything else outside work?

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I’ve been self-employed for most of my career. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the hardest habits I had to break was working practically all the time.

Guess you could say I was a certified workaholic! Work-life boundaries just wasn’t in my vocabulary.

This post is for anyone who struggles to draw the line between work and play. And it doesn’t matter if you work full-time at an office or work from home, we all sometimes get into the habit of bringing work home or letting work seep into the time that we should be using to rest instead.

So without further ado, here are 4 steps to help you set clear boundaries between work and basically the rest of your life.

HAVE A JUMPSTART ROUTINE.

A jumpstart routine is what I call a short routine you can do to ease into your work and get yourself ready for the day.

This isn’t something like sitting down to write a to-do list necessarily, but you can include that if you like.

The reason I don’t call it a morning routine is because you can very much use a jumpstart routine to begin even a side project after work – plus, not everyone begins work in the mornings.

Bonus tip: If you work full-time and have a side project, you can also use this jumpstart routine to get you in the zone for it after work.

I’ve used this tactic many times in my life to get me geared up and ready for what I’m about to do – I mean, just look at professional athletes who have their own little ritual before a game or shot.

CREATE A SHUTDOWN ROUTINE.

The opposite of the jumpstart routine, a shutdown routine is a short routine you can do to tell your brain and body that – hey – the time for work is over, and it’s time to focus on the big white space called LIFE on your calendar.

For a lot of people who work in an office somewhere, even just leaving the office can be a signal for your brain to get out of work mode.

But if you find yourself needing the extra push, or if you work from home and have struggled to set those work-life boundaries, having this routine can be a really effective start.

Your own shutdown routine can be as simple as quitting your browser, stretching for five minutes, then easing into an end-of-work journaling practice. Whatever works for you!

COMMUNICATE YOUR BOUNDARIES.

Sometimes it’s not that we don’t respect our work-life boundaries; it’s that other people don’t seem to.

When this happens, it’s important to communicate your boundaries in a way that is respectful and kind.

Here are few direct ways to communicate your boundaries:

  • Send a group message to your team to inform them of times you won’t be available to chat or talk.
  • Ask a perpetual 9pm Caller if you can talk about whatever it is they want on the next day, during work hours. Tell them you’d appreciate if you guys kept work during work hours – and you’re very much happy to respect that time for them as well.

Of course, there are indirect ways to communicate those boundaries, too:

  • If your team is on Slack, set your status to reflect you’ll be back online the next day. So if anyone messages you, they’ll see your status and assume that you’ll get back to them when you say you will.
  • Leave your office (or home office) hours in your email signature.
  • Or simply…don’t reply until the next day – don’t underestimate this tactic; over time, people learn your boundaries. So teach them, even indirectly at first.

SWITCH OFF EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS

…or remove email apps from your phone altogether.

Because if you really want to beat that email addiction, cold turkey is the best way to go. ‘Nuff said.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BUILD WORK-LIFE BOUNDARIES IN YOUR OWN LIFE?

Let me know: which tactics do you plan on using to introduce some healthy work-life boundaries in your life?

Are there tactics you currently use that I don’t mention? Share them with me in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Mind of Mica and has been edited for Thrive Global.

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