It happens to the best of us where suddenly all those yes’s pile up to an impossible mountain. Setting work boundaries might seem like another peak to climb, but the result ensures that your performance continues to rise, rather than fall. You need to look out for yourself because after all, no one else will. Especially during these times of constant connectivity, maintaining your work-life balance should be at the top of your priority list. By establishing your professional boundaries and learning how to advocate for yourself at work, you’ll manage your stress and succeed every day on your terms.
Just like speeding, you may not realize how fast you’ve been moving until you take a look at your professional speedometer. Or maybe you’re on the other side of the coin where you’re feeling the signs of burnout and don’t know how to slow down. Regardless, taking stock of where work boundaries are needed requires attention and plain honesty about your workload.
For instance, does it seem that you have too many tasks and not enough time? Are you overcommitting too much and need to have a reality check of what’s realistic? Or is it that you find yourself checking your inbox even after hours? Although the root of all these is stress, the work boundary involved will be different depending on the circumstances.
These types of questions will help you pin down what’s working, what isn’t and who is involved. It could be a matter of just you and your internal team, or it could involve multiple departments. Being able to communicate exactly what is causing your stress will be effective at getting the ball rolling. Yes, it can be intimidating. After all, the reason why you said yes to so many asks is because of your incredible work ethic. By advocating for yourself, it shows you take your career seriously. Redefine the conversation by explaining what you’re involved in and how that fits into the bigger picture of your everyday responsibilities.
Making others aware of your professional boundaries is just the first step. The next one is all about maintaining them which is easier said than done. It could seem that your work habits are so ingrained that it’ll be hard to set new ones. As we all know, habits take practice and figuring out which ones work best for you will take some trial and error.
Here are a few examples of healthy work boundaries you can put into play:
If you’re thinking of just sending one more email, give yourself a moment to pause and consider what’s at stake. Yes, it’ll be one less thing to do on your list for tomorrow, but how does that affect you in the here and now? There are benefits of work boundaries that you need to keep top of mind any time you feel the temptation to take a look at your inbox.
Communication is key they say, and by setting your work boundaries you’re practicing better communication skills with your peers. They’ll respect your willingness to put yourself out there. Plus, there are fewer chances of any misunderstandings because you’ll all know what’s going on with each. Expectations will be set and everyone, including you, will be succeeding.
Another potential bonus? Improvement of processes and structure. You might not be the first person who’s noticed the way things are running could be better. So, don’t be shy in stepping up and making suggestions. Your intentions of becoming more efficient will be crystal clear.
Plus, you’ll have time to do things outside of work because you’re more than a job, a title and stress. You have interests and hobbies that you need to continue to cultivate and flourish. After all is said and done, you’ll notice your mood is better, your productivity is improved and your peace of mind is restored. All thanks to advocating for yourself in your career.