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Establish Boundaries At Work: Seven Ways How Successful People Set Boundaries

Do you ever feel like your work schedule is unmanageable? Does your boss ask you to fly across the country at a moment’s notice? Do you say yes to every project that comes along? If this sounds like you, you are probably feeling overwhelmed and out of control. We agree that job stress is the major source of anxiety for most adults, and it is important to find a solution for this. And one of the major solutions is to establish boundaries at work.

Many of us spend the majority of our time and days at work. So it is obvious that the work can bleed into our personal lives. So creating boundaries around the workplace is critical. It also shows your boss, client and colleague that you have a backbone. When you respect your own boundaries, others typically will do, too. It teaches people how to treat you. Here are seven ways to establish boundaries at work so you can work smarter, gain respect and up your productivity.

Set Your Limits

Once you have an idea about the areas you need to focus, start setting your limits. One example could be, not checking your work emails in the evening between 6pm to 9pm so you can focus on your family.

Define your emotional, mental and physical boundaries clearly. You do this by paying attention to yourself and noticing what you can tolerate and accept. Also, keep a tab on what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed.

Know Your Values

Understanding your values helps you figure out where you would like to establish boundaries at work. In other words, by knowing your values, you are able to then set up systems that help you meet those needs.

For instance, you may have several side passions that are important to you, such as volunteering or running races. Because you want to make time for those passions, maintain strict boundaries around working overtime or being available at all hours.

Communicate Clearly

Once you set your limits, you need to communicate with your team clearly and confidently. Do not feel awkward while doing this. Everybody in the workplace has a right to set their boundaries. On the other hand, it is equally important to respect each other’s boundaries.

For instance, if you don’t want your team members to contact you at all hours, tell them exactly when you will be available for work conversations. When a boundary gets violated, address it immediately. It is better to reinforce your limits in the moment, than to wait.

Bring up a boundary or violation right way

When their boundaries get violated, it’s not uncommon that people get upset. They ruminate about it for days and then bring it up a month later. It is important to reinforce and exercise your boundary in the moment because if you don’t, it simply loses its power.

For instance, if your coworker wants to gossip about another coworker and you don’t want to get dragged into the drama, tell them calmly and politely. Let them know that you don’t want to participate. This is much more effective than telling them two weeks later that you wish they hadn’t told you.

Prepare For Pushbacks

Once you establish boundaries at work, you can expect others to react negatively. That’s a sign that boundaries are necessary and that they’re working effectively. It is also helpful to visualize your boundaries getting violated and imagine how you will address those situations.

That way, when such moments arise, you tend to handle it rationally rather than emotionally. Employees who are the happiest and the most productive are those who set boundaries. People who set limits gain respect because they show respect for themselves.

Create Structures

One way to create a structure and thereby establish a boundary is to have an agenda. An agenda is more efficient, and positions you as a professional in the company. While setting an agenda, include a start and end time along with topics to discuss.

Another way to create a structure is to hold a meeting. 

Focus On Concrete Explanations

When you establish a boundary at work, it is not necessarily productive to talk about it from your personal perspective. In other words, if your boss makes an unreasonable request, stop using statements like ‘I am too stressed’ or ‘I have so much pending work to do’.

This sounds like it is all about you and you are whining. Instead, frame your explanations in something concrete, in terms of how it’s going to affect other projects, clients or your bottom line.

It is important to establish boundaries at work. However, if your work environment is completely toxic and you don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, it is time to start thinking about leaving that situation.

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