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02 November 2021

Setting Boundaries between Professional and Personal Life

Despite WFO’s gradual comeback, the lingering trend of remote working is still here. According to Harvard Business Review, many major corporations such as Facebook and Shopify have decided to make remote working permanent. But working from home comes with a cost that all remote workers have been very familiar with: overworking. 

From last-minute client requests to personal matters, things can come unexpectedly for remote workers. How can we set boundaries and create a more proper work-life balance in a WFH/WFA setting?

Here are some tips on setting up healthy boundaries between private and professional life.

Make A Little Space, Make A Better Place

In a life before WFH, spatial boundaries between our office and our home used to be clear. To work, we needed to commute to reach a space that is completely separate from the one we use to rest. 

Where we work, meet colleagues, and spend after hours were different from our homes. Distractions in a WFO setting can also be minimized, as everyone in the office is (well, mostly) working. 

This setting also prompts either subtle or obvious peer pressure that can positively help us focus on working.

In a WFH setting, the spatial separation between office and private matters doesn’t have to completely be eliminated. In fact, it’s probably wise to maintain this distinction by dedicating a certain special room (or a certain space in our room) for working. 

Setting up a special space for working can really help us sustain a working mindset and be in the mood for working. To maximize the space’s efficiency, we could also communicate to other household members and make agreements on minimizing distraction in the working area’s proximity.

Set Up A Daily Schedule

Aside from spatial boundaries, we can also set time boundaries. Maintaining a work-life balance means that there’s time for working, and there’s time for leisure activities. And we insist on keeping the two separate. 

To make this happen, we can create schedules so that the two can be more separate. And the schedule may be adjusted to our working preference. 

For example, you can reserve 9 – 11 AM for working before taking a break and continuing work at 1 PM. You can also set a limit to your working hours, depending on the agreement with your team. 

As we keep our time for working and private matters separate, your coworkers would probably wish the same. To help our colleagues set a boundary, it’s also important to respect their way of scheduling. 

In a WFH setting, it’s a common practice to contact people during off-hours. Though it’s common, doesn’t mean that it’s proper. 

Communicate with your team members to understand their schedule and needs so that you can set up an agreement on hours when everyone can be available for work.

Create Habits

Time can fly really quick when you work from home, and “5 more minutes” can easily end up becoming hours of wasted time. 

To overcome the procrastination trap, we can set up positive habits to set the mood for working – even if the habit isn’t directly related to working per se. For example, a morning habit can range from morning exercise, planning the day, or even morning prayer. 

Your habit can be whatever works for you, as we simply need the routine to tell our minds that “the day has begun”, getting us mentally prepared for working.

In addition to habits for starting the day, you can also create habits before your work ends. These habits can be a signal for wrapping up the day. 

Giving one last go for checking your inboxes, looking at daily checklists, or making a plan for tomorrow’s tasks are good examples of such habits. These habits can become moments of transition between your work and your life. 

After all, we’re creatures of habit. If we have trouble setting up boundaries between work and life, we can work on creating habits that revolve around these boundaries.

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