Depending on who you are, working at home can either be an amazing experience or a complete disaster. A big part of the success of your experience comes from the boundaries that you have in place. That’s why I’m sharing the top 5 reasons you need boundaries when you work at home!
What are Boundaries When You Work at Home?
To really understand why boundaries are important, it’s necessary to discuss what boundaries are. In this post by Live Well with Sharon Martin, she discusses how boundaries are like property lines. They are invisible lines that separate one person from another or one area of our lives from another. We might need physical, emotional, or mental boundaries for different interactions in our lives.
Boundaries are frequently needed in relationships with other people, but boundaries when you work at home are a little different. Sometimes the most important boundaries are the ones we have to put in place for ourselves!
Or maybe that’s only true for me…
Boundaries Keep Your Priorities in Order
If you’re a work-at-home mom like me, you might have started your business to be more available to your family. In my previous life, I was a classroom teacher. It was a struggle when I went back to work because I couldn’t figure out how to keep my family as my top priority when I was at work or trying to do all the work I needed to do to be an effective teacher. Plus, I wasn’t able to be physically present at my kids’ events during the school day without A LOT of prep on my part beforehand.
When working at home, it can be easy to have the same struggles with keeping your family as the top priority. The work is always there, so it can be quite simple to make your business the top priority and devote all the time to your business. Setting clear boundaries for yourself and your clients and sticking to those boundaries can help make sure that your priorities are in order.
On the flip side
Boundaries can also help you make sure your business is a priority! When working at home, you might meet (or know) people who don’t respect your business as real work. Setting boundaries with these individuals and in these situations can help you get your work done and make your business a priority!
Boundaries Help Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Like the previous reason, working at home can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance. There’s always work to be done, so it’s easy to always do work. Yes, it’s possible to be a workaholic when you work at home!
Setting boundaries about where and when you work helps separate work and family time, so you can maintain a healthy balance for you and your family. You can (and should) set boundaries to protect work-out time, social time, and self-care time to keep yourself physically and emotionally healthy.
Need other ideas for staying balanced? Check out How to Avoid Burnout When You Work at Home
Boundaries Boost Productivity
Some people can’t relate to the workaholic tendency that I described above or their home life is crazy. It’s possible to have an unhealthy work-life balance that has too much life and too little work. Setting boundaries can help with this problem, too!
You can set boundaries that let you WORK at home.
Boundaries to boost productivity can take on many forms. Yours might be your kids can’t talk to you when the door is closed (If you have little ones, please only use that boundary when your significant other or a childcare provider is present!) or when you’re on the phone.
One boundary that I had to set for myself is I only do work during work hours. I don’t do household chores, check email, scroll social media, etc. There are so many distractions just within a business that I don’t need to be tempted by outside elements, too.
Related post: How to Maximize Productivity as a WAHM
Boundaries Develop Realistic Expectations
When you’ve spent time laying out your boundaries for yourself and your business, you have realistic expectations for what you need and what you want to achieve within those boundaries.
More importantly, you will be able to share those boundaries with others! This allows others to have realistic expectations for you and your business. Some people that NEED to have realistic expectations for you and your business are your significant other, your kids, your clients, and any others that you interact with for work. There might even be times that friends and family members need to be aware of your boundaries when you work at home.
Which leads to my last reason for boundaries…
Boundaries Help Prevent Problems
When boundaries are clearly in place for you and your business, you have realistic expectations for what you want and others have realistic expectations for you, too. This avoids confusion, frustration from unmet expectations, and conflict that can arise out of that frustration. Boundaries help everyone stay clear on what is happening, why things are happening, and what needs to be done to successfully work together in work and home situations.
For example, let’s say there’s a new client that you just started working with. This person sends you an email at 7:30 on a Friday night. If one of your boundaries that you clearly laid out when you started working with this person is you return emails Monday through Friday between 8 and 5, the client won’t be surprised that you don’t respond until Monday morning.
If that boundary isn’t in place, this client could very easily become angry when he or she doesn’t hear from you for an extended period of time. The client might send multiple emails on the same subject with an increasingly frustrated tone. There’s the potential that the person might decide that they don’t want to work with you or you might decide you don’t want to work with such a high-maintenance client.
All of this could be avoided with having clear boundaries in place when you work at home!
Things to Think About When You’re Setting Boundaries
As you get started with setting boundaries, here are some tips to make your boundaries successful!
- Consider the needs and personalities of yourself and everyone impacted by the boundaries you put in place. These boundaries aren’t just to help your business succeed; they should help make your homelife successful, too. Discuss with your family, friends, and clients why you are creating the boundaries and what ideas they might have for boundaries that should be put in place.
- Communicate! Discussing boundaries can be awkward, but it’s no good to have boundaries if no one knows them. If there are problems respecting the boundaries, discuss the problems with the person who isn’t respecting them. Make sure to be open to discussing problems if someone brings them up with you.
- Be consistent. Boundaries don’t do any good if they aren’t enforced consistently. If you ignore your boundaries, why should anyone else stick to them? There may be situations every once in a while where you have to break the boundaries that you’ve put in place, but those situations should be few and far between.
- Reflect on your boundaries. Boundaries aren’t a one-and-done kind of thing. It’s important to reflect periodically about what your boundaries are, how effective they are, whether you need to change the boundaries you have in place. There may be times that you have to change your boundaries as your situation changes or you might even have to put additional boundaries in place. This type of reflection is a great way to grow in your understanding of yourself and how you relate to others!
Additional Resources for Setting Boundaries
Here are some books that might help you with setting boundaries. I haven’t read all of them, but the original Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend is amazing!
Now it’s your turn. What kind of boundaries do you have in place for your work-at-home business? Please share them below!
Until next time,