Take Your Life Back

March 22, 2022

Marni Gordon

Setting boundaries between work and home was always difficult.  However, before COVID, I was able to use my commute on the Long Island Railroad to transition when my workday stopped and my home life began.  Once I started working from home full time in March 2020 due to COVID, the lines between work and family became blurred and it was impossible for me to distinguish when one stopped and the other began.  While there are big benefits to being home with your family more often, I found myself sitting with my husband and daughter in front of the television late at night and clocking in at 12-15 hour work days on an ongoing basis.

Taking My Life Back

Since I stopped commuting on the Long Island Rail Road to an office, I needed to find a new way to cue the end of my workday and transition to focus on my home life.  After over a year of having a never ending workday, I decided that shutting down my laptop for the night was my new signal to end my workday.  While nothing is perfect and I can still check work email through my phone, I found that I’m able to do a better job being present with my family and taking time to rest.

Stephanie Vozza from Fast Company mentions that it’s important to establish realistic expectations with yourself about your schedule when working at home. Given that you may need to balance work and family throughout the day, traditional nine-to-five office hours may no longer work.  It is important to figure out what timetable works best for you and unless you need to attend mandatory Zoom meetings at specific times, you can decide how to set your work schedule to get your job done.  

Finding a way to set boundaries and a realistic schedule for your work and home life is important to make sure you have time for everything important without burning yourself out.

How to Set Boundaries When You’re Doing Hybrid Work (Fast Company)

Gain Control of What's Important 

According to Forbes, boundaries are “like having a personal code of conduct that is grounded in your beliefs, values, and preferences.”  Creating boundaries is a way for you to take control of what’s important to you.  Once you set boundaries, it is important to communicate them to your managers, coworkers and family to set clear expectations.

How To Set Stronger Boundaries At Work (Forbes)

Set Clear Expectations

It is critical to establish clear boundaries upfront and have an action plan for when your boundaries will be challenged.  For example, when I take vacation time from work, I explain to my coworkers that while I will not be checking email regularly, I will take a look once a day in case of an emergency.

Set Better Boundaries (Harvard Business Review)

Establish What's Non-Negotiable

When setting boundaries, it is important to distinguish what’s non-negotiable and where you can be flexible if needed.  Going to Pure Barre at least five times per week is one of my “non-negotiables”.  Getting exercise makes me feel more productive and it’s something I really enjoy.

3 Tips to Setting Boundaries (Inc. Magazine)

Career Chat with ..... Mary Rodgers

Each issue, I’m going to chat with someone in our marketing community to learn from their career journey.  This week I spoke with Mary Rodgers, Head of Marketing Communications at Cuisinart to learn more about her perspective on setting boundaries.

Q:  How did you start your career in marketing?

A:  It’s hard to believe that when I went to college, I started out studying nursing.  My real talents fell into writing and literature, so after coming to that realization, I switched to English Literature. While in college, I worked in the dining services and that’s when I started cooking in a large format setting. My career started in retail in the categories of housewares which encompassed small electrics, general housewares, furniture, dinnerware, and glassware. After I got married, the retail schedules once I got into operations were not conducive for newlyweds so I moved on to my first marketing job in publishing. After that I moved back into housewares working for Dansk International owned by Lenox, then Farberware and finally Cuisinart. Cuisinart was on my radar as an up and coming brand in the small appliance and cookware space. In-between, I received my BS in business, management, and economics along with completing my MBA with a concentration in Global Brand Marketing. And since then, I pride myself on my continued education in brand strategy, digital marketing, and numerous other areas to keep relevant in an ever-changing business world. 

Q:  How have you been able to set boundaries between your work and personal life?

A:  This part is tough, especially with WFH over the last two years. My preference would be hybrid which is what my company schedule is except we’ve been home again since mid-December. The hardest thing is setting boundaries especially if you are dedicated to your profession. At the beginning of the year, I started leaving my laptop downstairs where I would bring it upstairs in the evening. I try to stop working by 7pm. 

Q:  What are some tips that you can share to set boundaries successfully?

A:  Leave your digital devices out of reach especially when you go to sleep or out to dinner. One thing I do is turn the sound off on my computer after hours. That way I don’t hear the ding of new emails arriving!  Everyone says don’t get on your phone first thing in the morning. Well, that’s the time I use my phone to read white papers, catch up on LinkedIn news, educate myself, send development opportunities to my team and read. If I don’t do it in the morning it won’t happen during the day. That’s a boundary I feel is an investment in myself and the team. 

Q:  What are the top lessons learned that other marketers can take away from your career journey?

A:  As you progress in your career it becomes less about you and more about your teams, teaching, guiding, supporting, and developing along with grooming them as future marketers. I pride myself on working side by side with my teams and that is what brings me pleasure in my work besides my passion for consumer products. 

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About Marni

Marni is an NYU certified executive coach and ICF member with over 25 years of leadership in the marketing, advertising, media, and events industries.

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