Establish Work-from-Home Boundaries to Boost Your Productivity and Profitability

When you work from home, it’s easy to blur the lines between “being at work” and “being at home.”  While having flexibility is great, a total lack of boundaries between work and home can really tank your productivity and profitability.  It can also make you feel like you’re working all of Mother working at homethe time and eat away at the quality time you spend with family or friends.

When you work from home, you might find that you are always distracted or not fully present in the moment.  Do you ever sit down to work on a business project, and the next thing you know you’re emptying the dishwasher or reading a magazine?  Or maybe you’re spending time with your “sweetie,” but you keep checking your email every time you hear the slightest ping or buzz from your phone or some other device. Or maybe your kids are asking why you’re always working on your computer (ouch!).

While this may sound harmless, it really is sinking your productivity while making you seem busy all the time.  You find it hard to focus on the task at hand (even when the task is just relaxing) because you always feel like you should be doing something else.  And here’s the thing: you have this nagging feeling because you should be doing something else!

When you sit down to work, get to work.  When the workday ends, relax and let the workday end.

I know that can be easier said than done, so here are 5 quick tips to help you define your boundaries, boost your productivity, and focus on the task at hand.

  1. Establish your workday.  Have you actually sat down and defined your workday? If not, it’s probably hard to focus because you’re working without structure. What hours would you like to work on your business? When are you most productive? It doesn’t have to be 9 to 5, and it’s not written in stone, but you definitely need a timeframe to work within. Take breaks during the day, but don’t get side-tracked by household chores or marathons of “The Brady Bunch.” Many entrepreneurs are surprised to find just how quickly the day goes and how little they are able to accomplish when they don’t have structure.
  2. Let everyone know when you are available and then be completely available when you say you will be available.  People are more likely to respect your boundaries when you lay them out clearly.  Doing this will lessen interruptions from family and friends, but knowing others are expecting you will also help you focus on getting things done within the timeframe you set forth.
  3. Banish the PJ’s to the bed.  Make sure you get up each day and actually get dressed.  You don’t need to put on a suit, but pajamas don’t exactly say, “Let’s get to work!” Yes, what you’re wearing can affect your mindset and productivity, even if you’re not aware of it.  Besides, you can’t possibly be ready to handle everything that the day might throw at you if you’re not even prepared to answer your door.
  4. Create rituals to help you transition to and from your workday.  Develop a routine that marks the beginning of your workday and helps you get busy.  Then develop another routine or habit that marks the end of your workday and helps you to switch gears. It could be as simple as turning on your computer at 8am and turning it off at 4pm.  Or, it could be that you need to work out, eat breakfast, meditate, and then start working.  Do whatever works for you.
  5. Set up “no work” zones.  Set aside time and space that is free from working on your business.  For instance, take a day or two off from work each week to rejuvenate and reconnect with the people and things that are most important to you.  Don’t forget to create work-free areas in your home.  At the very least, make your bedroom a sanctuary, not an extension of your office.

I would love to hear how you structure your day or your work-from-home boundaries. Please leave a comment below.

This month, I’m interviewing BrightFire Expert, Aprille Trupiano on “Creating Balance (What Others aren’t Telling You).” Be sure to join us!

About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva is the founder, CEO, and visionary leader of BrightFire Women’s Business Network, LLC.

BrightFire Women’s Business Network is the premiere sales training and coaching resource for service-based women entrepreneurs who want to increase their sales, serve more people, and change more lives.

Feedback & Comments:

  1. Heidi Alexandra says:

    Awesome tips I am sharing these with my leading ladies community!

  2. Tiffany – can SO totally relate to these. LOL! I love working from home but I do have to watch that my time doesn’t get away from me & organizing when I’m going to be “wife/mom” and when I’m going to be “go-get-’em” entrepreneur. My favorite tool to manage time if I’m switching between emptying the DW and working on my biz? A $1 timer from Target. I usually set it in 15 increments. That way I feel like I’m at least getting a little done on projects. Even if at the end of the day I don’t accomplish the whole task, I’m confident that I at least chipped away at it. Hope that helps. :)

  3. Tifffany, I completely agree with each of these tips. I have found you must be completely self disciplined (thankfully I am) to work from home. I have a separate office in my home and when I go in that room I am at work. I even say “let’s go to work” to my dog and he knows where we are going. I also put on make up and get dressed very presentably each day whether I am going out or not. Completely agree on keeping the bedroom a “no work zone/sanctuary.” Thanks for the reinforcement!

  4. I work everywhere, to be honest. The pool, the recliner, the hammock. But I don’t take it with me when we go out for lunch or to a party. I think I really love the total flexibility of being able to work no matter where I want to be on any given day. It’s more a mental “turn it off now” for me than a physical location.

  5. I work from home and have the PJ problem, so what I do now is go to my “Apple Office” at least 3 times a week for 8 hours. Apple is across the street from me and I have a one-on-one membership to Apple which allows me to go there for open training hours. I am focused, and around people which is helpful. At home I don’t get distracted, I forget to eat and the hours go by and the Apple hours give me structure so I STOP working.

  6. I can relate to the PJ problem and do like to get dressed and ready for the day. I keep most of my work in my office but do kind of “spill over” into the dining area just before I’m heading out for an event or tradeshow – books, posters and testing out what my booth will need

  7. These are great tips. When someone is working solely from home they should definitely follow your ideas for them to be more productive. Maybe even hire a business coach to bounce ideas off and further help to structure their activities.

    • Thanks, Mitch. Yes, the main thing is to find some structure that works for your particular situation, working preferences, and strengths. A business coach can definitely help with that.

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