Working long hours, being available 24/7, and always being “on” can be the norm for some (this is very true for much of my career). This can lead to feelings of burnout and resentment, as well as physical and mental exhaustion. So how do you realistically set boundaries between work and life? Let’s explore common pitfalls and how to get good boundaries in place.
Understand Your Job Requirements
The first step to setting boundaries is understanding what your job requires of you. What are your tasks? How often are you expected to check or respond to emails or texts? Knowing the expectations upfront will allow you to better define what type of boundaries you want to set for yourself.
Overworking can be one of the biggest challenges feeling like you must be always available and not setting clear boundaries around work hours. To overcome this, prioritize your time, learn to say no to tasks that are not critical, and schedule downtime for yourself.
Set Clear Boundaries
Once you know what is expected of you, it’s time to set clear boundaries. This means defining when–and when not–you will be available outside of normal working hours. It also means setting limits on how much extra time you are willing to put in beyond the scope of your job responsibilities. Make sure these boundaries are communicated clearly with your employer so that they understand what they can expect from you after hours.
A common pitfall for me has been not quite setting boundaries with my tech... So yes, my phone pings, or a hear the buzz and I quickly go to check it out. If it's a reply to an email or a WhatsApp message from my boss, I'll quickly reply... With the rise of technology, it can be hard to disconnect from work. To tackle this, turn off notifications outside of work hours, create designated tech-free zones, and establish a clear cut-off time for checking emails or work messages each day.
Repeat after me 'Don't be like, Meg and reply at stupid-o'clock'! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being explicitly clear when you're setting boundaries, you can literally tell someone 'I have decided to set a clear cut-off time to responding to work messages each day.' or ' I need to establish clear boundaries between work and life to ensure I have time for self-care and to maintain a healthy balance.' How bad*ss is that? Not only will you be able to Zumba (or in my case eat Wotsits) in peace, but I have a sneaky suspicion that you'll actually be respected more for being direct and firm on where YOU are.
Be Firm With Your Boundaries
Once your boundaries have been established, it’s important that they remain firm. Make sure that if requests come in outside of normal working hours, that you stick with the boundaries that have been set and politely decline if needed. It may take a few times for people to understand that this is a hard limit for you, but don’t give in just because someone pushes back on it!
Don't feel guilty! Oh the guilt! Many people struggle with setting boundaries because they feel guilty for taking time off or not being available 24/7. To combat this, remind yourself that taking care of yourself and setting boundaries is not selfish, it's necessary for long-term success and wellbeing.
Another pitfall here is a lack of structure, and sure, it's tough having structure when your role is reactive and making sh*t happen when plans change at a moments notice., however, when there's a lack of structure, it can be difficult to establish boundaries. To create structure, make a schedule that includes work time, self-care time, and personal time, and stick to it as best as you can.
Take Time For Yourself
Finally, make sure that within those boundaries there is space for rest and relaxation too! Taking breaks during the day as well as taking vacation days will help ensure that you don't cross any lines into burnout territory. Making sure there is downtime allows us all to recharge our batteries so we can be more productive when we're at work!
Setting boundaries between work and life is essential for anyone who want a healthy balance between their professional duties and personal needs. The key is understanding your job requirements, setting clear expectations with your employer, remaining firm with those expectations, and always making time for yourself outside of work!
By following these simple steps and sticking with them, you can find a way to maintain your workload without sacrificing yourself in the process!
Remember, setting boundaries takes time and effort, but it is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and reducing stress. Be proactive, communicate your boundaries clearly, and stick to them consistently.
You got this, ya beaut ✨ Stay awesome, stay kind, kick ass