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Workplace boundaries

Since early 2020, remote work has increased substantially, but the transition from in-office to at-home work hasn’t been so smooth. The boundaries between your professional and personal lives have been blurred, and many employees are finding that they are burning out. 

The effects of burnout might not be as obvious, and therefore it’s important to stay conscientious about the balance in your life and whether you are showing early or advanced signs of burnout. To identify burnout in your own life, a family member or colleagues and employees, look out for these early signs:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Physical fatigue
  • Concentration difficulty
  • Decrease in work performance
  • Dissatisfied with your job

The effects of burnout can be detrimental to your health, mental wellbeing, and your financial prosperity. You’re more susceptible to illness due to stress that lowers your immune system, which in turn means that you could lose income due to missed workdays. Your reduction in performance at work will lead to you losing out on the promotion or bonus, and overall, your confidence takes a knock because you just simply don’t achieve your professional goals. 

To prevent burnout, here are some tips and tricks to help you set boundaries, manage your responsibilities and the expectations of others at the workplace.

Setting healthy workplace boundaries:

Identify priorities:

While making a living is crucial to meet fundamental needs such as food and shelter, it is not the most important aspect of life. In addition to work, make a list of your top priorities to evaluate how you should spend your time and energy. Keep in mind that you may choose to spend time on your hobbies or with your loved ones while planning your work week.

This covers your work priorities as well. Whether you’re aiming for a promotion or just completing your assignment for the end of the week, prioritize the things that will get you there, and avoid stretching yourself to the limit.

Audit the situation

Conducting a boundary audit can help you clarify where you need to set limitations. Begin by being more aware of the individuals and situations that make you anxious, add pressure and cause stress. Make a list of them. If you find yourself feeling angry, resentful, or guilty, it’s a good indication that you need to re-establish or clarify a boundary.

Practice saying “no”

It’s critical to practice your capacity to say no at work once you’ve set your priorities and identified situations that cause stress . If you value taking time off during your lunch breaks, for example, respectfully refuse meeting invites planned during that time. When you’re offered more work, it’s also OK to say no. Consider if the task will directly assist you in achieving your objectives, and if it does not, decline it. Saying no is a strong tool for enforcing boundaries and keeping your objectives a priority.

Take time off

Giving yourself a vacation or a break from your obligations is a great approach to create work boundaries. Whether it’s difficult to find time in your job schedule or you operate your own business, it’s crucial to remember that you’ve earned it, just like your money.

Make the most of your hectic schedule by planning a vacation or mental health days in advance. You’ll be more likely to take time off if you plan ahead and you’ll also be able to focus on recuperating and reenergizing when you return.

Establish boundaries with coworkers

Your personal life may be brought up in a work situation during water cooler discussions and team meetings. It’s entirely up to you how much personal information you want to share with coworkers. Don’t be scared to set professional limits after you’ve decided on your degree of sharing comfortability.

Let them know if you like to keep talks regarding personal issues to a minimum – or if you’re willing to share, be mindful that others’ communication styles may differ from yours. Here are some examples of topics you should not share at work.

Topics That Aren’t Appropriate for the Workplace:

  • Gossip 
  • Politics 
  • Religion
  • Financial problems

Silence notifications

Another strategy to create work boundaries is to avoid allowing it to intrude on your personal time. At the end of the day, turn off notifications so that emails and texts don’t disrupt your dinner or family time. Remove business programs like Slack or Teams from your personal devices to keep notifications away from you. Although they might be useful at work, having alerts from peers continuously blowing up your phone or laptop doesn’t allow your mind to unwind from the day’s stresses and consequently you are functioning as “always on” – leading to burnout even quicker. 

Create standard break times

When it comes to setting work boundaries, having a structure in place to help you stick to them is beneficial. Make a note of your lunch break on your digital calendar every day of the week to ensure you don’t miss it. If colleagues try to schedule a meeting with you after it’s been blocked, they’ll be informed that you’re unavailable. This will also serve as a reminder to take a proper break and not get too caught up in your job.


Setting workplace boundaries will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, boost your productivity at work and energise you to spend time with family, friends or that hobby that you desperately need to dust off for a change. Workplace boundaries play an important role in professional as well as personal growth, and mastering how, when and where to set them will avoid burnout and improve your quality of life.

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