As a remote worker, you may find yourself constantly managing multiple priorities—many of which have nothing to do with your job. Simply by virtue of working from home or in another offsite location, everything from chores to childcare can compellingly vie for your attention, making it difficult to reach your daily goals at work.
Ready to get smart about setting boundaries you can stick to—and others will respect—so you can reach your most important goals while working remotely?
Let’s get started with these three strategies for setting boundaries when you work remotely:
Embrace the quarantine.
The part of remote working that often gets a bad rap is the physical separation from colleagues. If you’re a remote worker who misses office interaction, then you may be tempted to hobnob with others in your household during the day to meet your social needs. But beware of loosening your boundaries between the personal and professional too much just because you’re working from home.
A quick chat with your work-from-home spouse or intended five-minute call to a friend can easily balloon into an hour away from your desk if you don’t keep yourself on a schedule. If you’re not able to self-monitor and keep such interruptions brief just like you would in a corporate setting, then you might need to “quarantine” yourself to your home office or another location (see below) to ensure you get focused time to complete your work tasks.
Choose a neutral remote location.
It may sound funny to suggest working remotely from your already remote job (in other words, leaving your home office to work virtually somewhere else). But this move is often necessary to keep remote workers on track if their home environment is just too distracting.
If you find yourself constantly interrupted by those around you or self-interrupting to do personal things around the house, then you may be much more productive working elsewhere. Wi-Fi is now ubiquitous, so you’ll likely have your pick of alternate locations wherever you live. Consider trying out the library, a coffee shop, a coworking studio, the house of a quiet friend or extended family member, a restaurant, a hotel lobby, a museum—anyplace that removes your domestic distractions and let’s you concentrate.
Turn a blind eye.
The remote worker who feels compelled to tackle housework on a workday just because it’s visible is going to end up pulled in too many directions and crunched for time. It’s important to treat your role as a remote worker with the same approach that people use in an office—your work hours should be designated primarily for actual work. To achieve this, you’ll need to create a clear mental boundary around doing chores and engaging in other household activities. You wouldn’t be sweating those things if you were working in an office, so remind yourself that your remote work arrangement isn’t the right time to take chores on, either.
Without setting strong boundaries, you may find yourself swimming upstream, unable to focus and get what’s most important done. Use the tactics above to create compelling distinctions between your remote work and the rest of your life to be more successful in all arenas.
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