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Boundaries in the real world: How to Create Boundaries at Work

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

image of dictionary page with word boundary bolded.  There is a rip in the page depicting how to create boundaries

10 ways to create boundaries at work So You can start drawing the lines necessary to maintain your well-being.

If you’re new to creating boundaries, you may notice that these boundaries are all about you. When we master boundaries first with ourselves, extending them to others becomes much easier.

1. Create boundaries around your physical space. From having a dedicated workspace at work to working from to shared spaces, claiming your space is empowering. In shared work spaces, it can be as simple as a notebook and pen or even a favorite playlist you use to mark the space where you work.

2. Set mental well-being boundaries. Set aside time for anything that creates a disconnect from work-related thoughts. Ranging from mindfulness to a heart-pumping workout, choose activities that force you to shift your focus from work to what you’re doing in the moment. These measures help you ensure your mental well-being.


Tip: If you find yourself replaying an interaction that was upsetting, taking a mental well-being break is critical to feeling less charged about it.


3. Honor your Time Boundaries. Practice setting specific hours for work and sticking to them. It's important to your health and work-life balance to have clear start and finish times and to make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day. When special projects require extended hours remember to carve out time in the day to take care of yourself.

4. Fortify your digital communication boundaries. Consider removing work email or other work-related apps from your personal phone. Alternatively, set specific times for checking and responding to work email. When you are always on your hand-held device, removing it from your room at night can be a simple way to create a boundary between you and your work.

5. Create digital communication boundaries (Continued). Digital communication boundaries are tricky for many. Try setting specific hours during which you're available for calls and meetings and times when you're reachable via email or messaging. Outside of these times, you would not be expected to respond immediately. People in roles that require them to be available around the clock should have protocols in place for urgent situations.


Tip: Is it challenging for you to keep this boundary in check? If you find yourself always checking your email, ask yourself why. Is it truly necessary, or has it become more of a compulsion? Is it a form of doomscrolling? Protection, or even connection? Noticing your behaviors is the first step in changing them.


6. Manage your social boundaries. Create clarity for yourself about the extent to which you'll socialize with coworkers outside of work hours. Define how much of your personal life you wish to share at work.

7. Evaluate your task boundaries. Be clear about your responsibilities and acknowledge when you are taking on more work than you can handle. This involves being able to say no to tasks that go beyond your capacity, job description or interest. When a simple “Sorry, I can’t help given my current workload.” is not acceptable, seek out clarity on how to shift your priorities

8. Establish Prioritization Boundaries. Set clear boundaries on prioritizing your tasks and projects. You can think of it as a professional standard that involves openly communicating with your team and managers about your current tasks and how new requests fit into your priorities. It helps manage expectations and ensures that you're focusing on what's most important and that you are aligned with team or organizational goals.

9. Define your feedback boundaries. Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, consider the type and frequency of feedback. This might include specifying the most helpful way to receive constructive criticism or requesting feedback sessions to be scheduled in advance rather than impromptu. Establishing how and when you give and receive feedback can help in creating a more supportive and productive work environment.

10. Learning and Development Boundaries. Set boundaries around your learning and professional development time. Allocate specific hours or days for training, skill development, or attending workshops, and ensure that this time is not encroached upon by routine work tasks. This demonstrates your commitment to personal growth and also sets a precedent for continuous learning within the workplace.

This is only a sampling of work-related boundaries. Setting boundaries is a personal process, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to identify what you need to maintain your balance and well-being.

Where do you start? With yourself. Practice maintaining your boundaries for a month. Make it a priority. You might see that it becomes easier to clearly define your needs and discuss them with your colleagues and superiors.

Boundaries are tricky at first. But in time, they'll become something you can't do without.



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