Are you an educator working from home during this lockdown? You’re probably finding it a bit tricky to find the right balance between household responsibilities and work. It may also be difficult for you to set boundaries when working from home to ensure you maximize your time and remain productive.
However, you’re not alone. Many teachers are struggling with these same challenges while working from home. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help you set healthy boundaries while working from home as an educator.
1. Adapt to change
If you were used to teaching in a spacious classroom or auditorium, and suddenly you find yourself in front of the laptop teaching online, you’ve probably found that some adjustments are necessary. This not only applies to your method of teaching and the tools you use, but to how you separate your work and home life. What makes it harder is the need to adjust pretty quickly to the new environment and work routine if you want to give your students the best of you.
First, you need to find ways you can keep in touch with your remote students without disrupting the other family members in your household. When setting boundaries as you work from home, know what is and is not okay for you, as well as what you need others to know and respect about your work. When it's time for the virtual class, you want to ensure that everyone, including your pet, knows that you mean business.
2. Set a work schedule
As an educator, the school you work for generally sets your schedule, or you’ve committed to a schedule of your own devising at the beginning of the semester. While these hours are set for teaching, you may be able to make some changes to office hours so that your schedule better accommodates your work-from-home lifestyle.
Start here—think about what hours you’re required to be online, as well as how many additional hours you need to devote to administrative tasks (office hours, lesson planning, etc.), and develop a timetable for the work day.
Often, teachers start classes as early as 8 a.m and end the day by 4 p.m. However, this may not be the case now that you’re working from home. If you prefer, you can wake up a bit earlier, get things done around the house, and get to work by 7 a.m so you can end your day earlier.
Now that you’re teaching from home, you probably have a bit more freedom in your schedule to determine what hours you’ll be working and what hours are reserved for personal time—especially now that you don’t have to commute. Just make sure your students know when to expect you to be available and what time they’re expected to attend classes, and you’ll be all set to move forward with your new schedule.
3. Have a support system
It can be boring to work from home when you don't have your colleagues to interact with and spice up the day. As a work-from-home educator, you can take care of yourself and improve your mental health in the following ways:
- Start the day with meditation: You can make your day smoother by simply including meditation in your daily routine. When you meditate, you can improve your focus and reduce work-related stress.
- Set a reminder for breaks: Sitting down for excessively long periods of time at your desk while trying to catch up with deadlines doesn’t necessarily make you more productive. Take a few breaks throughout the day to clear your head. You can set the alarm to take standing breaks, walks, or short yoga sessions so you can come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next task.
- Take meals together: When the day is over, you can use dinner time as an opportunity to bond with your family and share some highlights about the day. Or, if your schedules work out, try to take lunch together a few times a week.
- Play games with your family: When you take those short breaks, consider playing games to change things up. It can help you loosen up and refresh your mind before going back to work.
4. Create a dedicated workstation
One of the best ways to set teacher boundaries and create the ideal working environment at home is to designate a specific space in the home for working. This can help you get in the right headspace for teaching, keep you organized, and help you stay focused throughout the day. Make it clear that it’s important that no one disturbs you once you are at your workstation.
When establishing a designated workspace, ensure it has proper ventilation and lighting. You can put some potted plants at your workspace to keep the atmosphere fresh and boost your productivity. If you have kids at home, you also may want to make sure your space is closed off from other areas of the house.
5. Reallocate commute time to something productive
Now that you are working from home, you no longer have a commute, meaning you have some wiggle room in your morning routine. While it might be tempting to just get online and start working, consider reworking your schedule to use this extra time more productively rather than simply putting in more hours at work.
You could practice meditation, read a book, or exercise. You can even do something creative as you wait for the work day to officially start. How you use this extra time is up to you, whether that’s catching up on rest, getting an early start to the work day, or taking care of other responsibilities so you have more time after work to relax.
6. Turn off social media while working
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have a way of eating up your time. The first boundary you must set is avoiding the urge to browse your phone while working. One way to do that is to download and install productivity apps on your phone to block all social media notifications that are known work distractions.
When it's time for work, disconnect from social media so you can provide your students with your full attention, just like you expect from them. Trust us, when the workday is over, the notifications and updates will still be there.
7. Know when to call it a day
If you don't adhere to your set office hours when working from home, it can be challenging to tear yourself away from the virtually endless pile of work. However, it’s important to know when to step away and shut it down after a full day of work.
Make it clear to your students that your office hours end at a specific time and that you won't be replying to any emails and messages or picking up work-related calls. This way, you can set teacher boundaries and preserve your work-life balance.
You can also change your online status to away so that your students know you’re not available and will avoid contacting you until you’re back online.
Once you log off and call it a day, it’s time to switch into personal-life mode. For example, you can make dinner with your family, take a walk in the park, or go for an evening coffee with your spouse. Just do anything that will make you feel like the day is finally over and set you in the right mood for the next day in the virtual classroom.
As an educator, it’s important to set teacher boundaries when working from home if you want to ensure your students get the most out of your online lessons. You can use GoGuardian Teacher™ to help eliminate distractions from your workstation, for both you and your students.
GoGuardian gives you all the tools—such as class management software and DNS filter—you need to host a successful virtual class and help improve your student's performance. When working from home, you can apply the seven tips we've shared here to become more productive and meet your goals as an educator.