On Friday, I got an email from one of my PM Counseling couples with their agenda for the next session. I usually see “Family Relationships” or “Finances,” but what I got was “Respecting boundaries during isolation.” So when wedding planner, Amy Shack Egan from Modern Rebel asked me to join her on Instagram LiveStream to talk about couple’s wellness and her first question was “For couples working from home – what are small ways to draw boundaries + be intentional about alone time?” I was totally ready!

Huge thank yous to my couple and to Amy for allowing for truly open conversations – and for allowing me to share this information. An hour session is sufficient, but since 30 minutes on a streaming platform was not really long enough to be complete, I thought I’d take it to the blog. Here’s PART 1 in a series.

WHAT ARE SOME SMALL WAYS TO RESPECT BOUNDARIES AND BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT ALONE TIME?

It’s all about zones, scheduling and discussion.

1. ZONES
When I spoke with my couple on Saturday, they said that there are 5 “zones” in their apartment. Now that they are both working home they had to be strategic about where and when they did things. They set up a work-out area on their patio, one works from the desk in the living room, one works from the bedroom and they share the kitchen and bathroom. So if you’re sharing space with a partner, a family member or a roommate it’s important to make sure there are delineated locations that you can assign.

In my conversation with Amy, she mentioned that sometimes when working from home, she’s in “the zone.” In her case, it was a particular mindset for working. Sometimes when we’re on the computer it’s difficult for our significant other to know if we’re actually doing work or scrolling on social media. In those cases, it’s really important to share and/or ask. If you know you will be busy for the next hour on a project, let your partner know that you don’t want to be disturbed. If you need clarity about whether your partner is available to talk or respond, please don’t assume. Ask!

2. SCHEDULING
We’re used to getting up around the same time each day during the week to workout or head to the office. When working from home, it’s easy for the lines to be murky. While we may not always be super strict here, it’s important to have some semblance of a schedule. For my couple that included questions like: What time do you want to start the day? Do we need to handle any tasks before we start working? Most importantly however is, what time do we want to FINISH WORK for the day. It’s easy when working from home to just keep working. Take breaks in the middle of the day, and then work late. However, if there are a few of you working from home, it’s best to schedule what you’re doing when. When you “call dibs” on a zone? When do want to make sure to have couple time? Is there a time that you need to safely leave the house? When can you request alone time? If you don’t have a joint (or family) calendar, start one. Online calendar, paper calendar, it doesn’t matter. Be clear about who’s doing what when in your shared space, and do your best to stick to it.

3. DISCUSSION
As with all things, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Since all of this is new to many of us, it’s important to discuss what’s working and what’s not. As we’re living in a new normal, I think those conversations should happen DAILY at least to start. First off, start with appreciations.

a. What do you like or appreciate about your partner or roommate?
b. Share 1-2 successes from the day. What worked well?
c. Express any personal fears or challenges you had. It’s important not to hold these in, but express them to someone close to you.
d. Can any improvements be made? What could work better?

Please let me know what you’re doing in your new normal to respect the boundaries of those you love (or live with). If you have any questions, please add them to the comments below. I do offer complimentary 15-minute consultations, so if you have a confidential question or just want to talk through a concern, do not hesitate to reach out to schedule.

Here’s to staying safe & healthy.

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Welcome. I send a newsletter with updates or articles every few months. Tips to keep your relationship strong, information on living healthy & happy and news about upcoming workshops. If you have requests or suggestions on articles or blog posts, please send them my way!