I’ve noticed a trend over the past 10 months or so with people working remote.  If they haven’t done that before, they tend to find it difficult to separate work and home.

All of a sudden, with no travel, they can fit 10 meetings into a day with zoom calls and while they thought that was great initially, they now see how exhausting it is.

Those of us that have worked remote for years understand because we all had the same problem when we first started working from home, but we had to learn how to set boundaries.

Here are 5 tips to set boundaries and increase your productivity.

Set your priorities – What do you absolutely have to get done?  Sit down at the end of your day and write out your top 3 priorities for the next day.  Notice I said 3 not 30.  List 3 and stop.  On a different sheet of paper, or on Trello or another online software you can list everything you have to do.  If you finish your 3 things and still have time in the day you can choose something else from your list to work on.

Stop Multitasking – I know this is hard, especially for women, but multitasking means you take longer to complete a task than it would have been if you just focused on it to completion.

Set a realistic schedule – Stop thinking you can fit 3 days of work into 1 day.  Set up your calendar so you have time blocked off for your own work.  Then set times that people can schedule calls with you and stick to that.  I know there will occasionally be a call outside of the designated slots, but make that the exception, not a regular occurrence.  My suggestion is that you also choose at least one day a week that you have no calls.  This may also be the one day that you choose to spend working on your own projects. With that focused time of no phone calls or zoom meetings, you would be amazed at how productive you become.

Choose a schedule that works for you – If you do your best work early in the morning, for example, block that time off as focused work and start your calls later in the day.  Also, make sure that you have a schedule that allows for self-care time and family time. Your family doesn’t want to feel like you are squeezing them in when you can.  If you must work at night, take a couple hours break to spend with them.  And if you can create your own schedule make sure you end your day by 5 or 6 pm so you can enjoy your evenings. Do what works best for you and your family, and know that this may change depending on family activities.

Stop letting other people determine your day – When you change your schedule to accommodate what others want on a regular basis you are letting them determine your day.  I heard a saying many years ago that was about not letting someone else’s lack of preparation become your emergency and I have lived by that ever since.  There is rarely a time that something needs to be done immediately, so be sure to set your boundaries and respond to people in a way that lets them know you are happy to help them (if it is something you want to do) but that you can’t do it until X day/time, not today.  Most times people are fine with that.  By setting boundaries you are letting people know what you tolerate and what you don’t.  You are letting them know that you take your time seriously and that you guard it carefully.  Once you are clear about your boundaries, people will understand them better and take them into account before sending you requests.

I hope these help you to get your time back, feel productive and accomplished and have more peace of mind and calm in your life.  Remember, you create what you want, and your schedule is no different.  Make sure that you are creating a work environment and home environment that works for you and your loved ones and is fulfilling for all of you.