7 Practical Ways You Can Set Work Boundaries

7 Practical Ways You Can Set Work Boundaries August 13, 2023

A workspace with a laptop, pens, notebook, and coffee used to created healthy work boundaries.
Ian Dooley/Unsplash

Setting work boundaries seems easy, but it’s harder than you think. It’s scary, especially because we believe we might get fired or face harsh treatment from our bosses. However, setting boundaries is more important than compliance. Without them, people take advantage of us, and we develop unhealthy work relationships. 

Why Should You Set Work Boundaries 

Setting boundaries helps you achieve a healthy balance between work and your personal life. It also helps boost work satisfaction and prevents burnout. Setting work boundaries helps you determine a manageable workload which decreases your stress levels.

Work boundaries also protect physical and emotional energy. When you set work boundaries, you have more room to be productive. You can pay attention to your work and limit distractions. Lastly, boundaries help you set personal goals and define the lines others should not cross. 

How To Set Work Boundaries

Setting work boundaries will make your personal and professional life better. It’s all about creating a workspace that works for you and not against you. Use these 8 tips to develop healthy work boundaries. 

Set Work Hours 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to set work boundaries. If you are a freelancer like me, then you know just how hard it is to stop working when you are working from home. 

Even if you don’t work from home, taking work home means taking work-related stress at home. It increases burnout, and eventually, you will start to hate your job. Set your work hours and stick to them. Do not check work emails outside of work hours. When it’s time to clock out, clock out. Turn off your computer, make dinner, relax, and enjoy your evening. 

Set Daily Tasks 

Setting daily tasks gives you direction and increases productivity. You know you have to finish these tasks by the end of the day, so you can evenly divide your time between tasks.  

I recommend setting 5 daily tasks. However, you can set more tasks if you can handle more. You can write a to-do list or productivity app to keep track of these tasks. 

Additionally, start with the hardest task first. Yes, it’s daunting. But once you achieve this task, you will finish your other tasks in no time. 

A workspace with a laptop, pen and notebook.
Nick Morrison/Unsplash

Learn To Say No

Saying no, especially when it comes to work, is hard. However, you are not obligated to say yes just because it’s your boss. Saying no is always an option, and you should not be afraid to say no. 

People, including your boss and coworkers, will test your boundaries. Some requests will be reasonable, but others will threaten the boundaries you set to protect yourself. 

Remember, there is power in saying no. Saying no means you cannot devote your time to this request or that it would violate a boundary. If you continue to say yes when you should say no, you have more stress and frustration that could have been avoided. 

Don’t Skip Breaks

Skipping breaks is not an option, whether it is your lunch break or a 10-minute break. Breaks are important. Your lunch break gives you a chance to give your body more fuel to get through the rest of the day. 

More importantly, breaks give you a break from work. It’s a temporary escape from work to refocus your energy. 

You may be working on a stressful or frustrating task. A break can give you 10 minutes to relax. You can take a quick walk around the office, eat a snack, or meditate. These activities can clear your mind and help you look at the situation from a different perspective. 

Speak Up

You will not agree with everything that goes on at your job. You may see a coworker constantly being disrespected. You may experience some disdain at your job, or a coworker may cross the line. 

It’s best to speak up. No one will know the issue exists if you don’t say something. Yes, it’s scary to speak up but think about what will happen if you don’t address it. The behavior will continue, causing you more inner turmoil. 

Remember, some things are worth addressing. So do not be afraid to talk to the other person.     

Respect Others Boundaries

Just like you have boundaries, other people have boundaries. Do not cross other people’s boundaries. Crossing boundaries can ruin your work relationships. 

It causes anger, frustration, and communication breakdowns. Respecting others’ boundaries creates a safe space and keeps the lines of communication open. 

Respect Your Own Boundaries

Setting boundaries requires 100% commitment. You cannot fold every time someone challenges your boundaries. Your coworkers or bosses won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t respect them yourself. 

Stand your ground when someone challenges your boundaries. Set clear terms regarding what will happen when a person crosses your boundaries and stick to them. Boundaries are there to protect you. But they won’t protect you if you fail to enforce them. 

It’s important to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, especially when working from home. Create work hours and set daily tasks. Take breaks and avoid checking work emails or messages outside of work hours. Remember, saying no to work requests that don’t align with your boundaries is okay. By setting boundaries, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.

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