From the moment you walk in the door at work, does the momentum sweep you up only to slow as the sun makes its way toward setting? Do you immediately check emails the second they ping? Do co-workers constantly and continually interrupt your work? Have moments of clarity been missing since the first week of your current position? Perhaps you need to set work boundaries.
Allow Yourself to Have Limits
Often the biggest obstacles to setting work boundaries are the potential feelings of fear and guilt. You might fear how co-workers will react if you set boundaries. You might feel guilty that somehow you are not working hard enough or that you will lose the pride you had when you handled every little issue that came your way, the moment it came.
Listen to Your Gut
There are three key feelings that are often red flags that you need to set work boundaries. These feelings are discomfort, resentment, and/or guilt.
You can think of these feelings as gut feelings that indicate the need for boundaries. If a particular situation or person makes you feel uncomfortable, resentful, or guilty—repeatedly—it may be time to listen up.
Identify Your Limits
You can’t set good boundaries if you don’t listen to yourself. What are the things that you can handle and what are the things that generate resentment or stress? Write the stressors down to develop your “limits” list.
Communicate Your Limits
Lay out your limits very clearly. For instance, if you don’t want your colleagues and clients to text you at all hours of the day and night, tell them verbally. Share with them your available hours for work-related content.
Also discuss what constitutes things that are ok to text “after hours” such as work emergency, which you will happily receive.
Enforce Your Limits
Create a plan for consequences if and when your boundaries are crossed. Respectfully inform people when you believe your boundaries are being ignored.
Work Boundaries Aid Success
Work boundaries can be difficult to set and hold, but they can increase your peace of mind as well as your efficiency. Without boundaries, it is very difficult to differentiate what is reactive work and what is important work.
Establishing work boundaries keeps you from being run ragged by the small stuff. Boundaries can set you free from office drama, co-dependent co-workers, while helping you gain control.
As Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
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