How To Set Healthy Boundaries At Work

May 27, 2022

Remote workers often have difficulty establishing a healthy work/life balance. Without a distinction between the workspace and personal space, work can easily start to feel like a 24/7 affair. This can lead to unnecessary stress and eventually, burnout.

That’s why we encourage maintaining a healthy work-life balance and the importance of creating work boundaries.

This month, we’re sharing some tips for a good working environment to help us live the best life we possibly can while doing our favorite jobs. These tips were taken from personal observations as well as various recent courses and sources on the subject.

Tip #1: Change Your Work Environment From Time to Time and Work From Other Places

For Radu Constantin, Developer in our Adelance Team, a change in scenery helps increase productivity:

“I work from a coffee shop 2-3 times a week. Changing places benefits me. I go there first thing in the morning and work for 2 hours. It’s out of my comfort zone, I push myself a bit more, and I’m way more productive because there’s nothing else to do – I don’t have the chance to go to the kitchen and look in the refrigerator!

Tip #2: Schedule Short Breaks

Constant work is known to increase cognitive overload while going for a walk at least once a day and exercising are said to prevent cognitive overload. Getting fresh air is beneficial for your mind and body.

Working remotely makes it possible to take short breaks and spend more time outdoors. 

Abdallah Deep, Developer at our System Team stays healthy by lifting weights every day (at least 16kg in each hand!). He also goes on walks with his dog and his wife. This helps him maintain physical activity and spend time in the great outdoors.

Tip #3: Set Work Boundaries and After Work Activities

Once you start your workday, it can be all too easy to lose track of time. Instead of working long hours, try to set a schedule – and follow it consistently. 

The first way to stay on track is by asking yourself: “What are the top 3 things I need to accomplish today?” 

When you first wake up, don’t start the day by reaching for your phone. Instead, set your daily intentions. As you’re setting your goals for the day, keep these questions in mind:

  • How do I want today to go?
  • What do I want to achieve today? 

Then, put together your schedule and prioritize effectively. Try to tackle high-priority tasks in the first 2 hours of work, and remember to do something for yourself. You’ll feel more productive, and you’ll train your mind to focus.

Nicolas Vialet, a Supporter for WPML’s Support Team knows exactly how to make the most of his day: 

“I always wake up between  5 – 5:30 am and go for a run. It helps me reduce stress. I’m more productive in the morning. I then work until 15:00 and afterward, go on another run.”

If you’re just deciding on a new after-work activity, remember: one minute a day is all it takes to form a new habit. If you repeat even the smallest of actions every day, for 32 days in a row, you’ll create new neural pathways. Don’t pressure or force yourself to start multiple new activities at once – embrace the process.

Tip #4: Reduce Distractions

Distractions are the biggest enemy when it comes to focusing. Constant emails and chat alerts  can negatively impact your performance levels. You can be successfully tackling multiple tasks, only for the ping of an incoming message to make you completely forget what you were doing.

 It can take up to 20 minutes to regain focus, so it’s best to identify and minimize distractions around the house.

If you frequently find yourself getting distracted for no apparent reason, try these tips:

  • Schedule short windows of “quiet time”, such as time for a short walk or a few minutes to meditate.
  • Set a daily routine that works for you, and follow it.
  • Increase productivity by planning your day the night before.
  • Pick 1 or 2 priorities, turn off notifications, and get them done! If possible, tell your team members you’d prefer not to be disturbed or attend meetings during this time.

Tip #5 – Create a Positive Environment

A clutter-free, positive work environment is more than just a mood lifter. It also opens the doors for clarity of thoughts and ideas. It’s a proven fact that our physical environment links directly to our mental wellbeing and productivity.

Simply put, if you take good care of yourself, you’ll perform better at work. 

Start by analyzing your surroundings, such as your work space. Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t just carry a physical toll. It may also increase the chances of developing mental health issues. Consider using a standing desk for a healthier body and mind.

Even if you’re working remotely, take the time to get to know your co-workers on a personal level. The opportunity to be yourself around teammates creates an open, friendly environment.

Allison Rivers, a Writer on our Content Team, liked the virtual escape room game between our teams:

“Engaging in team-building activities is always nice. I also really enjoyed the virtual scavenger hunt we had some weeks ago. I got to know Michelle from the Design team there, which later allowed us to interact in a friendly, nice environment.”

Tip #6 – Set Realistic Expectations During Demanding Times

An organized work schedule will not only guarantee you’ll get everything done, but it will also boost your productivity and allow you to see if you have any more room for new tasks and responsibilities. 

There are only so many tasks a person can effectively handle in one day. Saying yes to everything, even when you already have enough on your plate can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. 

In this case, one of the best self-care techniques also happens to be one of the hardest ones – the ability to say no. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or if your schedule doesn’t allow you to take on any more tasks, communicate with your team.

Raja Mohammed, Support Manager for WPML’s Support Team finds that creating a routine helps him organize his work day:

I start each day with a list of routines. This helps me clear the clutter, so to say. As the day goes on, I adjust the order of my priorities based on the current needs and flow of tickets. At times, this requires multitasking. I also try to find the right balance between making sure I don’t exceed my capacity and gradually increasing my workload. This helps me stay consistent and minimizes the number of tasks waiting for my response.”

Tip #7 – Self-Care: Nourish Your Body and Soul

As we’re sleeping, the brain rejuvenates. While it’s possible to get by on a couple of hours of sleep, it isn’t healthy. 

The next time you’re ready to call it a day, try sleeping apart from your phone. Opening the email that just came in or passing one more level of your game can wait until tomorrow. Instead, give yourself the chance to unplug and your mind the chance to restore.

To maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, stay hydrated and choose healthy food options. Fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods will keep your mind sharp and your immune system happy.

Kathy Banach, a Writer on our Content Team, wrote The Remote Worker’s Guide to Eating Your Way to Productivity to remind us about the importance of eating well and staying healthy in the workplace.

If you’re interested in reading more about staying healthy in the workplace, check out the  Happy and healthy people behind WPML and Toolset plugins – Part V  blog post to see how the BAMM program helps us maintain the work-life balance and devote time to hobbies!