It is becoming more and more frequent that people experience burnout from being overworked. While the past year has helped people appreciate their jobs during hard times, it is important to remember that they are just jobs. Because of this, workplace boundaries are something that everyone should be comfortable setting and implementing in their life.
There are times when employees get so engulfed in work that they allow stress to add to their lives. While it is important to care about your job and put effort into your work, it is also crucial to remember that you are not essential to the business continuing. God forbid, but if you were to pass away tomorrow, your company would keep moving forward. Positions can be refilled, and work can be delegated to someone else. Knowing this and understanding that there is only so much you can give your place of employment is the key to living a freer and more fulfilling life.
Learn to say No
The thought of saying “No” to a coworker or leader may seem like a scary thought. While this may take some tweaking to figure out the best way to say “no,” it is a critical workplace boundary to implement.
Depending on your place of employment, there might be different requests that could justify this response. If you work in an office, you might be familiar with the request to work on a project over the weekend or after hours. This request usually starts with a minor task that can be completed quickly. Unfortunately, this is usually a slippery slope. If you decide to work outside of company hours or off the clock, it becomes easier for people to ask you to complete more extensive and more time-consuming tasks similarly.
Say NO! It may be uncomfortable at first, but the payoff is HUGE. Politely telling your coworkers and leaders that you are unavailable to complete work-related tasks when you leave the office is the first step to reclaiming your time and energy!
Block Time off for Yourself
Unfortunately, when I say “block time off,” I am not talking about using vacation time. Instead, go through your calendar and block off times you will be unavailable. This will help you ensure that your days are not back-to-back meetings leaving you no time to work on projects!
While we like to think that this may not be needed, things will begin to pop up requiring urgent meetings or scheduling changes as we approach the holiday season. Having a set amount of time per day/week where you know you will be uninterrupted can dramatically change your stress levels at work! This workplace boundary can be used both at work and at home! No matter what is going on in your life, understanding that you need uninterrupted time to focus or relax can help you address holiday stress with a sense of calm.
Use Meaningful Communication
One important thing to remember when implementing these new workplace boundaries is that sometimes people might break them. Sometimes something urgent happens off the clock, or a coworker will try to pull you away during your blocked off time. Breathe and remember that life is inconsistent sometimes, and sometimes things happen outside of your control. What you do have control over is how you react when these boundaries are broken.
When you’re needed to answer an urgent question off the clock, answer the question but make sure you have a conversation with your coworkers/leaders about what qualifies as a “workplace emergency” in the future. If you have a coworker constantly interrupting your blocked-off time, politely inform them that you are not available at the moment, then direct them to a time you are free when you can help.
Boundaries are a difficult thing to implement, especially in the workplace. The good news is that once you announce and reinforce them, people become more comfortable with them! The critical thing to remember about workplace boundaries is that you can’t continue to wait for “X, Y, Z” to happen before you start implementing them. Waiting for something else to happen before you start enforcing boundaries is an excellent way to ensure they are never put in place. The journey may be challenging to start, and it may seem like it’s not worth the trouble, but the only person affected by this decision is you.