Although working from home became much more popular over the last few years, for many business owners it has always been there, along with its challenges.
While the perks of working from home are undeniable, maintaining clear boundaries is crucial to ensure productivity, work-life balance, and the overall success of your business. Here are five boundaries that every small business owner should keep in mind when working from home, that I want to share with you, and that I personally have been practicing for years as a business coach:
1. Don’t Work Where You Live (and vice versa):
One of the primary challenges when working from home is the potential blending of work and personal life. To overcome this, it's essential to establish a designated workspace, and my advice to you is to make sure it is not even close to your living room, or a place that is easily visible as you walk around the house. The idea here is to create a true physical boundary that signals the start and end of your workday. When you enter this space, you're in work mode, and when you leave, you're off the clock. It sounds obvious, but it isn’t. This simple yet effective boundary helps to maintain focus during work hours and allows for a clear mental shift when transitioning to personal time.
2. Set Clear Working Hours:
Small business owners often find themselves working around the clock because when you manage your own business, you literally feel what the term time=money is all about. If you work more, you usually earn more. While passion and dedication are important, it's crucial to establish and adhere to clear working hours for your family and self well-being. Communicate your availability to clients, partners, and employees, and stick to these set hours as closely as possible. This not only creates a sense of routine and predictability but also prevents burnout. Boundaries around working hours also ensure that personal and family time remains sacrosanct, contributing to a healthier work-life balance and happy family, which is one of the most important factors for business success.
3. Limit Distractions and Interruptions:
Working from home can expose you to a myriad of distractions, from household chores to the allure of social media. Suddenly washing dishes and laundry are fun tasks and answering all text messages is very very important. To maintain optimal productivity, set boundaries around these potential interruptions. Establish rules for yourself, such as refraining from personal phone calls during work hours (try to use your phone’s “focus modes”) or setting specific break times for household tasks. Additionally, communicate your work hours to the people around you, as well as the importance of minimizing interruptions, and create an environment conducive to focused and uninterrupted work.
4. Embrace Technology Wisely:
While technology enables remote work, it can also blur the lines between personal and professional life. Small business owners should set boundaries around their use of digital tools and communication platforms. Establish specific times for checking emails, responding to messages, and participating in virtual meetings. Avoid the temptation to constantly monitor work-related notifications, as this can lead to a constant state of alertness, impeding your ability to recharge during non-working hours. By leveraging technology thoughtfully and establishing usage boundaries, you enhance your efficiency and protect your personal time. Also, remember that technology saves time, so find the right technology that can save you time when you work. There is a wide array of time-saving apps, AI tools, and gadgets that although may look redundant sometimes, 10 minutes here and there can amount to a few hours over a week.
5. Prioritize Self-Care and Well-Being:
A common pitfall for so many business owners working from home is neglecting their well-being and it is a crucial factor of sustainable long-term success: prioritize breaks, incorporate exercise into your routine, and ensure you take time off when needed. Also, establish boundaries around work-related stress by setting realistic goals and deadlines, using the SMART model, for example. Recognize the signs of burnout and address them proactively, because by making self-care a non-negotiable boundary, you not only safeguard your health and well-being but also fortify your capacity to lead your business effectively.
Take a minute to ask yourself: 1. Have you established real boundaries? 2. Did you define a separate working space? 3. How well do you handle distractions? 4. What kind of time-saving tech can you implement? 5. Do you take care of yourself and your stress levels?