As a leader, I know working home can create the feeling of being overwhelmed. Especially with every ding, ping, and menacing red-number notification from every device vying for your attention.

Like many living this side of the 21st century, all of the “instant-ness” of our digital world is enough to drive you mad.

Quite simply, you need boundaries. Working from home certainly has its perks, but often, it’s hard to turn work off and turn life on. With our country still amid a global pandemic, working from home will be our standard. A recent study from Gartner revealed that 82% of business leaders plan to maintain a partial work-from-home structure even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

Regardless of your role on a remote team, I’ve compiled ten ways to separate business from pleasure – even when it’s all under the same roof:

  1. Delegate. Smart – and productive – leaders adopt the ‘70 percent rule’ that says if the person you’d like to perform the task can do it at least 70 percent as well as you can, you should delegate.’ If you’re still unsure about when to delegate, ask yourself these questions.
  2. Every morning make a list of those items that need your immediate attention. Anything that can wait should.
  3. In today’s whirling, must-have-it-yesterday society, we’ve been taught that multitasking is the only ‘-tasking’ – but more often than not, we do better when we focus on one thing at a time.
  4. Start Early. There’s a reason the early bird gets the worm – they’re up-and-at-’em before all the other sleepy birds – and it pays off. Most successful professionals have one thing in common: They start their day early to have time to plan their day quietly.
  5. Interval Work. Try organizing your workday into 15-minute segments as that’s often long enough to get something done – and short enough to find that time in your day.

PRO TIP: Schedule meetings at 15 minutes past the hour and end them on the hour. In three 15-minutes ‘chunks,’ people can often accomplish in 45 minutes for what they think they’ll need 60 minutes.

  1. Say No. It’s OK. Politely decline additional tasks if you’re’ overloaded with work. And if you think you can say ‘yes,’ make sure to review your list of priorities first.
  2. Avoid Distractions. Resist the urge to check unrelated distraction – Hello, social media! – while you’re working. And if your fingers’ social media muscle memory is too hard to override, consider leveraging some programs like SelfControl, Freedom, StayFocusd, and Anti-Social, which block access to the sticky, slippery wormhole parts of the internet for specified periods.

PRO TIP: Work on just one screen at a time. If you’re on your computer, keep tablets, phones, smartwatches, carrier pigeons and all other tempting distractions out of reach.

  1. Know When You’re Done. Just as you instinctively know when to stop eating, continuing to work on something when your brain is circling the drain is a significant time-waster. You can often complete the task faster by taking a break and allowing your mind to switch gears for a bit.
  2. Recognize ‘Bonus Time.’ Rather than being frustrated when an appointment is running late, or a project has been pushed back, learn to shift your perspective. These ‘inconveniences’ are now opportunities to tackle smaller, lower-priority tasks that have been nagging you, like responding to an email or returning a call.
  3. Give Yourself Grace. We will all occasionally be distracted by something shiny; we are, after all, human. Accept that you will make mistakes, become distracted or have an overall unproductive day – and accept that it’s OK. Mistakes are proof that, at the very least, we’re trying. So recommit to getting back on track tomorrow with a clean slate. It happens.

With more and more companies and employees bucking the traditional 9-to-5, brick-and-mortar business model, the new normal has become somewhat nebulous as we try desperately to (re-)apply some semblance of structure to our workdays, whatever hours and building they occupy. But setting even just a few of these boundaries when you work from home will serve you well on your way to finding work-life balance.

Tricia Sciortino is the CEO of one of the nation’s leading virtual assistant companies, BELAY. As CEO, Tricia strives to lead and inspire her team to provide extraordinary services while finding great talent along the way. As a leader, she’s passionate about helping her team forge their own paths, careers, and professional development, putting each of the company’s valued employees and contractors in the driver seat to cultivate the balance of work and life that best suits them.

Working from home stock photo by Jelena Zelen/Shutterstock