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Let's Talk About Boundaries at work

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Creating boundaries at work can be challenging but well worth the effort.

Laptop closing at 5pm indicating boundaries at work.

This is the first in a series of 5-blogs about boundaries at work. If you'd like to check the health of your workplace boundaries, take a look at our boundary series on YouTube.

Let’s talk about boundaries at work. No, not the ones like "Please refrain from reheating fish in the office microwave." (Although if you are that person, consider this a gentle intervention). We're talking about the invisible, seemingly intangible, but vitally crucial boundaries that separate your work life from your personal life, your tasks from your colleagues, your sanity from... well, let's not go there.

Boundaries. The word raises lots of "stuff" for many people. Most often, I see people who feel obligated to say "yes" to extra projects or long hours. They see boundaries as intimidating. For others, they view boundaries as limitations or restrictions. It's like being handed a box when all you want to do is roam free in a wide-open field.

But here's the twist: Boundaries aren't boxes, and they shouldn't be seen as something daunting – they are your personal, productivity-boosting power suits. Think Iron Man, but with less flying and more job satisfaction.

We live in an age of communication saturation, where your boss or colleague can send you a message at any hour of the day. It was thrilling at first. The world at your fingertips, and you are a 'can-do' kind of person, right?

But, too much of a good thing can lead to overload. When it comes to work, this can be a path to burnout. The fact that you're reading a post about boundaries at work could mean that path is familiar to you.

So, what's the secret recipe for these magical, productivity-boosting boundaries? Here's the key: balance. (Interested in tips on work-life balance? We've got a video series with practical tips.)

Boundaries are the lines that separate 'work you' from 'home you'. They're the invisible armor that protects your work from invasions and protects you from your work. The late-night "just-one-more-email" syndrome? It's a sign that your boundary shield needs reinforcement.

Setting boundaries might be as simple as not checking your work email after a certain hour or deciding not to work through lunch. Maybe you say "no" to an extra project because you're already juggling too many, or perhaps you decide to take your full allotted vacation time (shocking, I know!). This isn't slacking off—it's productivity in disguise.

Creating boundaries doesn't mean you're avoiding work; it's about working smarter, not harder. It's about maintaining that spark of creativity, that energy that makes you leap out of bed every morning saying, "Let's do this!" instead of the dreadful, "Do I really have to?"

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the boundaries between different roles within a team. If the marketing guy starts giving advice on the product's technical aspects and the tech guy starts pondering the nuances of customer personas, we might end up with a marketing campaign featuring a shiny new toaster with AI capabilities. Entertaining? Absolutely. Efficient? Probably not.

Now, that's not to say collaboration is a bad thing. Oh no, we love collaboration as much as we love Fridays. But understanding and respecting roles can help streamline processes, ensuring everyone is playing to their strengths.

In the grand game of workplace productivity, boundaries are not your enemies; they keep you safe, sane, and set to succeed. So, embrace your boundaries, power up that productivity suit, and show that endless to-do list who's boss.

Up next in our series, we'll take on the challenges with setting boundaries in the workplace.

Until then, happy boundary setting!



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