Setting boundaries – How far do you let others go? (Part 2)

Last time, I’ve taken through the basics of determining and setting your boundaries. Here are some practical tips for setting boundaries in the office:

  • Do you need to do all these tasks? Often, you may be doing tasks for your colleagues or are working on tasks that can be cancelled or delayed. Start pushing back and don’t take on more favours. Ask whether another 1-hour-long meeting is really necessary or whether a phone call won’t suffice. If your team is already above capacity, does this new project need to be implemented now or can it be postponed by 4 months?

  • Not every email needs to a reply. In this time of information overload, we’re constantly bombarded with requests, questions and sales pitches. Decide your criteria for responding. A colleague once told me “Not every email needs to be replied too.” Feel comfortable with responding according to your schedule (or not at all).
  • Set meetings rather than being interrupted all the time. If you have a boss (or colleague) who comes over every half hour with 1 question, set up a meeting and ask them to bundle all their questions. Not only are you focusing on them during that meeting. You’re more productive by not getting interrupted. The other person will experience your limit and ideally will change their behaviour over time.
  • Working from home? If you’re working from home, can you close the door of your home office once you’re finished? If you don’t have a separate room, can you put up a room divider to shut your office for the night? Check these out at Home Depot. These actions will help you to “sign off” from work for the day.
  • Put on your home gear. You can change your clothes after work to signal you’re no longer in work mode. A previous boss of mine never wore jeans in the office. They were for non-work hours only.
  • Respect yourself at home, too. Decide when you’ll check work emails or take work calls at home in the evening. Ensure you have enough time to unwind before going to bed. Otherwise, it may impact the quality of your sleep. Will you apply the same rule permanently or will you adjust it for peak times, project work or emergencies? If so, how do you define these exceptions?

What are your boundaries at work? And how do you enforce them? Share your tips with us.

Until next time,

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