In the current season we have found ourselves in, “working from home” has turned into “living at work,” and we can all agree it can be overwhelming to find balance. It is crucial for our mental health and well-being to find this balance and set boundaries between our personal and professional lives.
We are excited to share with you the ways each of us have learned to set boundaries to benefit us, both professionally and personally.
Drawing boundaries right now seems unlikely or like a luxury, right? I’m here to tell you that they are CRITICAL to our overall mental health and wellness. My dear friend and Choice client Lauren Rainey Tenney has some really good insight on this very topic. Check out her LRT Show for some great interviews around boundaries. For me personally, working from home since quarantine or LIVING AT WORK, which Kerry said to me last week, makes it extremely difficult to separate work from home and personal life from professional. Here are the steps I’ve been taking to draw my boundaries clear and protect them.
- Get Up Before Everyone Else: My mornings are always slower in the summer because we’re not getting up and heading to school and the office. During the school year, we have to leave the house by 6:45 or 7 am at the latest to make it on time. In the summer months, I let the boys sleep in and get much needed rest. Because my commute is now, let’s say, 1 minute, I’ve still been rising early and using that time for me. I am embracing my body’s demand for more rest. The emotional and mental drain is great right now. Listening to music or a podcast, preparing my breakfast, taking a walk, praying, reading a devotion – I’m taking time for me first thing before the noise of the day begins.
- Keeping and Communicating a Schedule: During both quarantine and summer it’s easy to just throw a normal routine and schedule out the window – fly by the seat of your pants. I am 100% against that. For both some control and some normalcy, I develop a set schedule for each day and communicate it to my family the night prior. In addition, the boys have created their own summer schedule, which always includes three things: reading, journaling and exercise. The sense of “normalcy” really has helped our family not feel so chaotic.
From Devin Lee:
Something that helps me with boundaries between my personal and professional life is having clear signals for my brain that my workday is over. At the end of every day I do two simple tasks:
- Write Down 3 Positives: At the end of each day I write down three positive things that happened in my day. Life and work are heavy right now so remembering the good at the end of my day makes me realize what an amazing day I had at work that day.
- Take a Walk: I know everyone is walking but getting out of my office and house tells my brain it’s time to be fully present with my family. Plus, my puppy smiles when he’s on a walk and there is nothing cuter!
I am all about routines. In normal times, I can feel overwhelmed after a few days out of my normal routine. I’ve found these routines even more vital during such a stressful time, and incorporating some boundaries into my routines right now has really been helpful. Here’s where I’m focusing at the moment:
- Slow Mornings: Quarantine has made me a lover of quiet mornings. Nothing feels better than waking up and not rushing off to do something or start work immediately. Now that I am working from home 99% of the time, I’ve made myself start off with a slow, non-work morning. I don’t want my home to feel like the office, so I don’t check email and Slack first thing. I do something for my mental health, often journaling or a Calm meditation. And I leave the TV off and opt for a podcast or playlist that fuels me.
- Evening Shutdown: In the past, I’ve found it hard to walk away at “closing time.” If I haven’t tackled my to-do list for the day, the workday doesn’t feel done to me. To set some boundaries for myself around this feeling, I’ve done two things. One, I don’t overcommit my days. I leave time to get actual work done instead of Zoom calls all day long. I don’t put 20 items on my to-do list because that’s setting myself up for failure. Two, I walk away at a decent time. Yes, there will be early mornings or late evenings in any job. But most days, I try to force myself to shut it down and turn off from work. I physically shut my office down – computer sleeping, blinds shut, lights off. It’s made all the difference.
I am a “people person”. The busier, the better. Before the pandemic, I LIVED for a packed schedule and having something to always look forward to. Lately, if something is on my calendar (yeah,right!), I have a completely different reaction. Boundaries are important to have in place, and that is not a common practice for me pre-whatintheworldisgoingon.
- Quiet Mornings: coffee, worship music and just simply breathing. Not rushing into my day (which is in the next room over) and allowing myself to take it slow in the mornings sets my intention for the coming hours.
- Going for a Walk with Brandon: Though I have started to waddle more towards the end of the day (hello 7 months pregnant!), a walk with my person is so refreshing for my soul. We are both worn out by the end of the day, but a walk allows for no distractions and just having intentional conversation, or complete silence (which is welcome, too, sometimes) that rejuvenate my soul.
- Reading Before Bed: Working from home most especially, we are looking at screens ALL. DAY. LONG. We look at computer screens for work, communicate through the screens of our cell phones and watch our favorite shows at night to unwind. I have found that my brain needs a screen escape before bed. Reading and getting lost in a story that is not my current reality helps my brain to relax and prepare for rest.
Setting boundaries while doing all aspects of life at home has been key in keeping a balance and routine at home for myself and my son. I have learned how to be more flexible and adapt to the constant change happening around me, while still implementing structure.
- Keeping boundaries on my time, relationships, and work life balance has helped me navigate through COVID with a plan.
- Start the Day with My Devotional: I have learned that starting, and ending my day with reading Scripture helps me stay focused on what truly matters.
- Learning to adapt to change and realize that while boundaries are necessary for my family, they won’t always be followed & accepting that this is okay too.
Although there are days that feel unhinged, I know that with my boundaries set in place I will always have a foundation to stand on as my family & I continue to live and work all in the same place.
As I grow into new chapters of my life, I have always made it important to develop a routine and set boundaries. These routines and boundaries have helped me develop structure, stay organized and stay extremely productive.
- Make time for myself every morning: I realized very early on in my life that personal time in the morning helps me start my day off in a positive way. Normally my routine starts with a shower, sometimes this is the only time in a day where I am alone. It helps me clear my mind, wakes me up, and I totally do the best thinking in the shower.
- Morning personal and professional To-Do Lists: Each morning when I open my computer I develop daily personal and professional to-do lists. These lists help me stay organized and on track for the day. It makes me feel so accomplished when my to-do list is completed mid afternoon and I can spend the rest of my day relaxing and watching my favorite TV shows or opening a new book.
- Getting Up: It is so hard for me to step away from my computer during the work day. I often feel like stepping away means I am missing a message, an email, or someone asking for my help. Having an Apple watch has helped me so much with this. It notifies me every hour to get up and move.
I have never been one to do well with change, so it was no surprise to me that when COVID shook my natural way of life, it took some time to adjust and come up with the best methods for keeping my productivity up, while also protecting my mental health. Setting boundaries during this time has become an absolute necessity.
- Setting Time Boundaries: One way I’ve been able to do this is by setting a specific time to shut my computer, and be done with work. It’s so easy to continue working much longer than you would be expected to if you were at the office, so setting this boundary has kept me accountable in being intentional with the time I have.
- Designating Work Space vs. Personal Space: Additionally, I have set the boundary of where I allow myself to work. I currently live in a very small apartment, so it’s easy to want to work from the couch, or bed, as those may be the most comfortable places. However, I’ve found that I truly benefit, both personally, and professionally from designating spaces for work versus personal time.