This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer
Let’s talk about boundaries. I feel like a philosopher or a marriage counselor or something when I talk about this, but this is a really important topic. When you’re working from home, it feels like a lot of lines get blurred because you’re doing something that’s inherently. Businessy and professional in an environment that is not businessy and is not professional.
There’s a complicated mix of feelings and emotions and expectations and etiquette in these two different worlds, the personal home world and the professional business world. And it’s really important to create boundaries between the two. Let me give you a couple examples. Schedules are great boundary lines because they tell people when you start and when you stop and anytime between those two times, it’s fair game to talk to you about business things, work things, professional things, but outside of those hours, if you let your clients know, or your boss has some arrangement with you where this is when you start, and this is where you stop.
Everybody can respect that and know that before then you’re off limits after then you are unavailable. Similarly, there’s a sort of geographic boundary that needs to be made, which is respecting the workspace that you’ve created in your home. And that’s a two way street. So while I’ve given examples of how my kids know that they should not go into my office, because that’s my workplace where I get work done.
I also need to know that when I leave that office, I have to leave my work worries and problems and distractions behind when I opened my office door at the end of the day, and I walked through it. It’s incumbent on me to respect the fact that I am leaving my office space and going back into my house.
That’s really hard to grasp it because you’re at home the entire time. Right. But it’s really important to know that once you leave the office, you need to leave work at work. This is particularly hard. I think for people who. We’re formerly used to having a commute. There’s just something about getting in the car and sitting in traffic and spending 20 or 30 minutes on the road before you get home, where you can really start to unwind and you stop thinking about work related things.
And instead you start thinking about when I get home, this is going to happen. This person’s going to want this. I need to do this. You’re thinking about dinner, family, children, whatever you’re thinking about. But it’s typically not related to work. So once we take out that commute time, unfortunately one of the drawbacks is that’s actually a really good transition, both going to work and from work.
So when you work from home, you still have a commute. Your commute might be three steps through a door, but treat it like a commute. That’s an important boundary for the sake of your friends or your roommates or your family, or whoever leaving work things at work. Needs to happen, even though your office at home might be one foot from your bedroom.
Create that boundary. This is work. This is not work. Do it. When you walk into your home office and do it. When you walk out of your home office, there has to be a switch in your mind, that slips where you say I’m turning off my work mode. And in my case, for example, I’m putting on my dad hat. When I leave the office, I’m open to silly things and craziness and dad look at this drawing.
I made a dad, can we play catch? And dad let’s go to the park. That’s an important thing that my children know that when I come out of the office, I’m there for them. Boundaries like this are important because they make sure that people don’t resent us. I, if I can respect the boundaries that I’ve put in place and my family members can respect the boundaries that I’ve put in place, then I won’t resent them.
When they ask me to take them to the park after work. And they won’t resent me. When I tell them they can’t come in my office during business hours.
Ron Stauffer is a solopreneur and freelancer with over 14 years of experience running a small company. He’s extremely familiar with the loneliness, frustration, and challenges unique to freelance work and running a business of one. He started Free Soloing to help other people just like him.