Sunday 22 November 2020

Nerd Church - Working From Home More? It's Time To Set Some Work/Life Boundaries

(Warning: I briefly discuss mental health problems in this post - it's not graphic, and is written about in the context of self-care and healthy work/life boundaries)

'Working From Home More? It's Time To Set Some Work/Life Boundaries' with a rustic-y fence and a sunflower, because sunflowers are happy and we need happy stuff in 2020

A lot more people are working, at least in part, from home this year - on account of 2020 and all the Lockdowns and everything 2020-ish.

I've actually worked from home for several years, and it's got a ton of advantages - but you also have to be careful to set work/life boundaries -

- especially if, like me, part or all of your income is coming from things which were once solely hobbies - it tends to blur the lines.

Disclaimer: This is the bit where I remind you that I'm not any type of mental health or medical professional.

Neither am I some kind of life or productivity coach (that would be scary!)

I only have first-hand experience of Depression/Anxiety, and using self-care to support myself - and hopefully my experiences can help other people.

Hang on a sec - what are boundaries?

In their simplest, most practical, form, boundaries separate one thing from another. 

The most obvious thing is property lines - fences, walls, gates, and hedges can mark out where one property ends and the next begins. These are the property's boundaries. 

(Though even if there isn't a physical sign, such as a fence, showing where the property line is, there's usually still a legal property line. The fence just makes it clearer.)

In terms of people, your skin is a physical boundary between your insides and your outsides - the barrier between all your gooey bits and the outside world.

Jimmy Fallion: You've got to draw the line somewhere, right?
Via Giphy

Personal, emotional, and relationship boundaries take this as more of a metaphor - but are no less real for that.

They're more like the legal property line, then, than the fence - trespassing is still possible, and still not OK.

People should only cross your property lines if they have permission to do so.

Work/life boundaries, then, are a way of safeguarding your personal life from the pressures of your work life.

The thing is, when you work from home the boundaries can be a little on the fuzzy side, so you need to be conscious of them more, and repair fences that are broken, take down barriers that are no longer needed, etc.

(I really hope you understand these analogies dearest nerdlets! 😅)

See, I have a tendency to over-work, and if it's work that I enjoy doing, that tendency only grows.

So self-care and boundary-setting? Super-important.

Don't get me wrong - these boundaries aren't set in stone, if they're not working out, I change them 'til they are (or at least, that's the plan.)

Woman typing at a keyboard until the keyboard starts to smoke like it's on fire
Via Giphy

But I do have a few boundaries that I find work especially well, for example:

- I don't check my work e-mail on weekends; unless I'm expecting an important e-mail, or writing an e-mail, I don't check it more than once a day.

- I stop work and blogging and writing some time between 6pm and 7pm (I know that's broad - but it's so I can finish sh** if it really needs to be done!)

- I only reply to blog comments once a day - at one point I'd answer them as soon as I got a notification, and it wasn't practical or healthy

- When I'm not using social media, whether for work, blogging, or personal, I log out of the account, and close the tab or app. You'd be surprised how much of an effect it has.

- I don't turn my computer on and start the day before I've had breakfast.

This means I can protect and/or curtail things that have a knock-on effect on my mental or physical health like:

  • my sleep schedule
  • doomscrolling
  • general work-related Anxiety
  • exhaustion and burnout from overworking
  • making sure I eat enough

Obviously, as with so much self-care, this is incredibly personal to you and your situation.

And there will be times when you need to adapt: to over-step, or rearrange, your own boundaries. To add some, or take them away.

What's important though, is that you take ten minutes, every now and then, to assess your boundaries:

  • Have you set boundaries?
  • Are your boundaries fit for purpose?
  • Do you overstep your boundaries because it's the right thing to do in this situation, or because the boundary is no longer relevant?
  • Are your boundaries impractical? Is there some way you can fix that?
  • Do you overstep your boundaries too eagerly when there's no (adequate) reason to do so?
  • Are your boundaries safeguarding what you need them to safeguard?'s far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully it'll give you some food for thought.

At the end of the day, as with most things in life, it's about finding what works for you without impinging unacceptably on important things like your family, friends, health, income, etc.

And just thinking about it is an awesome first step in telling yourself 'I need to live life in a way that's good for me, because my physical and mental health are important.'

(There are other steps, but you'll have to ask someone who knows about those! 😅)

Take care, dearest nerdlets!

Do you work from home, or have you had to do more from home in 2020?
What do you think of setting work/life boundaries?
Talk to me! 😀💬

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  1. I've had to do schoolwork from home this year and it has been tough. Mostly for reasons you've mentioned: overworking, etc. I check my school email compulsively throughout the day, which is probably not the ideal scenario. This post is definitely important. I will try to follow these tips more!

    1. Believe me, I've been in the 'constantly hit refresh on my inbox' loop - and I've found it's actually counter-productive most of the time.

      Maybe start small like, 'I'll count how many times I check my e-mail, and then try to reduce it by one or two,' - or, if you feel like it's right for you, you can set a hard boundary like 'I'll only check it once a day,' like I do for my work e-mail. If whichever you choose doesn't work out, then that's OK - it's about what's best for you, not about adding the stress of 'why doesn't this thing work?' If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

      Good luck Em - my Twitter DM's are always open if you need me, though I'm still really slow in relpying! <3


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