Boundaries as in rules or fences can be helpful in determining what can and can’t be done or where you can or can’t go. Today I want to think about using boundaries as limits to gain better control over the different aspects of your life and thus work towards better balance in your life.
Recently I was listening to the news and heard that many people are complaining that they are working way too many hours because they are working from home. There’s no limit to their workday. It spills over into the time they would normally be relaxing at home. Consequently, lots of people are experiencing burnout. There’s no sense of balance in their lives, no structure, and no boundaries.
It’s All About You
Begin creating better balance in your life by thinking about yourself. What makes you happy? What fills your soul? Who do you take care of? Start by taking care of yourself. When you take time to take care of yourself you are better able to show up for those for whom you care.
I’m not advocating that you regularly take entire days for yourself. I am recommending you indulge in a cat nap if you need it. Go for that manicure and pedicure (when they are available). Close your door and read a magazine for 15 minutes. Meditate. Do whatever you need to and center yourself before you show up for others.
Make a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for your door. Let everyone know that if the sign is on your door, it means that you want to be left alone until such time as you open the door. Your closed door is a physical boundary.
Have a conversation with your boss to determine and agree upon times when you can disconnect from electronic devices. Then share those boundaries with those who report to you. Let them know that there are times when you will and will not be checking your electronic devices.
Examples of Boundaries
The majority of us working from home need to establish boundaries between our home life and our work life. If we are always leashed to our electronic devices, then we may feel as if our workday never ends. No wonder so many people are feeling overwhelmed.
Think about when you may honestly and realistically turn that device off. Can you say that you are unavailable after 9pm or earlier and turn your phone off? That would be a very clear boundary. Are you willing to leave your phone in another room on your day off and only check it every couple of hours?
It’s hard to completely ignore the phone because they serve so many purposes. These devices hold our calendars, our contacts, our games, and our social media experiences. Plus family and friends reach out to us on our phones.
You decide on a realistic boundary for you.
Create a separate workspace for yourself. If it can not be a dedicated room then find a way to delineate where in the room the office begins. Maybe you can move furniture around to create an office zone within the room. You may want to purchase a screen to create a physical boundary and to better define the workspace.
Routines are Important
Add structure to your day by creating a morning routine and an evening routine. Good routines can lead to lower stress and levels of anxiety. My morning routine consists of breakfast, caring for my orchids, walking my dogs, followed by yoga or a strength class, and then a shower and getting into work clothes. I don’t check my mail until I’ve completed my morning routine.
I generally do not check my computer or my phone for email once I start cooking dinner in the evening. This is how I have created some balance in my life. I carved out time in the morning and in the evening for me.
Think about how you start and end your day. Do you dive straight into your mail? Do you take some time to settle into the day? What do your routines look like? Do you want to change them?
Our lives will never be completely balanced. We will always be negotiating something. There will always be something that interrupts what we have so carefully planned for our day.
The key to remaining calm and in control is to rely on the structure of your routines. To know where in your day you have flexible time and to understand your own personal boundaries. Use these boundaries to create better balance in your life.
Helping clients create daily routines that work with their lifestyle, to set boundaries, and to create a better sense of balance in their lives is part of what I do as a professional organizer. If you would like to know more about that please reach out to me here.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.
I think we all are struggling with this a little. My husband and I were talking about how his meetings are all back to back because this is possible with Teams (Microsoft version of Zoom). Before, he would have some travel time between clients, which, while draining as well, drew a different kind of energy. Setting some boundaries is important, but can be oh so hard, especially when clients are in different time zones all over the world! Keep trying until you find something that works, right?
Yes. Keep trying. The more we talk about it, I believe, the more we can push the topic to the forefront. I sympathize with your husband’s situation. I can see both sides – how overwhelming it can be to have meetings back to back to back and the idea of using the time available. I think it’s important to note everyone needs reflection time. Time to process what has just happened and then to set the right tone for the next meeting. Let’s keep talking! Thank you very much Seana!
This is such an essential conversation, Diane. Now more than ever, so many of us are working from home and its unfamiliar. The expectation was high before to be available 24/7, but now that has intensified. Like you, I’m a big advocate of finding touch points during the day that are for self-care and nourishment. Because without those, the chances of burnout are high. They are guaranteed. I like to wake up early so that I have time to ease into my day before working, emailing, writing, etc. My day starts gently with mindfulness meditation, journaling, showering, walking by the river or in the woods, and eating breakfast. While I might sneak a peek at an email or text, in general, I don’t respond until after the self-care pieces are done. The end of the day varies a bit more, but there is a point when I stop working. Creating those personal boundaries makes an enormous difference for my well-being and sense of life balance.
Thank you, Linda. I love the way you start your day. It sounds so peaceful. I honestly believe that when people recognize the importance of putting these boundaries in place for themselves that they will also be able to ease into their day. Doing this puts them more in control, thus creating a better balance in their life.
I found that since I worked from home before the pandemic, I had instilled the work and home life boundaries early on. But, when my college-age kids are home, I do get some distractions. I have to inform them that I am not available at a specific time of the day. That has helped a lot.
Thank you, Sabrina. I think it’s so helpful to let others in your family know about the boundaries you put in place so that you can have a successful business as well as quality family time.
I love this concept because it’s so important. Boundaries are critical in our lives, our relationships, and of course our work. I think boundaries give us direction, focus and strength. It strengthens our sense of self and inner core.
Thank you very much, Ronni. I completely agree. Like anything, I think out boundaries change over time and even sometimes because of circumstance. When we know our limits and then live by them we can have more control over the amount of time we dedicate to different aspects of our life.
My husband barely lasted a week working from home. It was painfully obvious out space wasn’t equipped properly… I did a lot of logistical research on setting up designated space at home and it is a game changer for clients encountering the same issues.
I appreciate how you focus on the mental organization of this topic. Lots of important reminders, thank you!!!
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment, Melanie. I know – this is really hard for almost everyone. It is the rare person who hasn’t encountered some sort of challenge figuring out how to regain a sense of balance – switching between home life and work life.