Tips for establishing healthy boundaries

A lack of boundaries can be a major contributor to unhappiness at work. When we do not set boundaries we may find that our time is not our own, our plan for the day gets derailed or, we spend too much time dealing with other people’s problems. We may also take on too much, which can lead to resentment and conflicts.

Learning to set healthy boundaries around your work and your time is a key skill to fostering happiness. Strong boundaries can also help alleviate conflicts and other problems which can undermine everyones happiness.

Here are our tips for helping you establish a few healthy boundaries.

Learn to say no

It can be hard to say no, especially when you’re a ‘making the magic happen’ event professional and, especially to the people we depend on in our teams.

We may feel guilty however, learning to say no is one way of protecting your own work time and your downtime. While there will be times we will have to say yes to something that will cause upheaval in our day, learning to say no when we really do not want to do something or, are not able to do something is a key skill.

When we say yes when we really mean no, we may end up resentful of a task or person and, this can lead to passive aggressive interactions or outright conflict, which undermines everyone’s wellbeing.

Trust that saying no will not convey that you are a bad person, not a team player, or otherwise a poor colleague. Learn to say no firmly but kindly and, be very clear about what you can or cannot do in any given situation.

Learn to say yes

We may be hesitant to say no, but we can be equally hesitant to say yes. We may be afraid to say yes to things that are a stretch of our skill set or which pose a risk. Learning to say yes to things we really want to say yes to is as important as learning to say no!

Be willing to change your plan to take advantage of a good opportunity. Be willing to say yes to projects or experiences which will take you out of your comfort zone and into your development areas.

When you are willing to say yes you are also setting good boundaries for yourself. Saying yes allows us to grow and experience new things, even if we may be a little fearful of the risk of trying something new or unexpected.

Protect your downtime

One of the most important boundaries we can set is around our downtime. Often we find ourselves working through lunch, answering emails on weekends, working late to finish one last thing or, going without a break all day.

When we do take a break, we might cut it short to help a colleague or address something that can be handled by someone else. This can breed exhaustion, resentment and, burnout.

Learn to protect your downtime. Start simple. Make yourself take a full lunch break. Close your door to have a five minute break between projects. Let your colleagues and customers know that you do not check emails on the weekend or, that you only check them a set number of times a day.

Be firm, be clear and, be polite about the fact that you are protecting ‘your downtime’ so that you can better serve your colleagues or your customer’s needs.

Know when to call it a day

In this age of smart phones and tablets, even when we finish work, it can leak into our downtime. So, it’s important to know when to call it a day.

Checking and responding to emails late at night extends your workday into your downtime. Set a boundary with yourself that you will not check email or voicemail after a certain time and, don’t work late unless it’s a TRUE EMERGENCY.

When work bleeds into all other aspects of our lives, we can quickly become burned-out or overly stressed. While there will always be occasions where work has to intrude on non-work time, making a practice of setting your working hours for the week can help you avoid the overload and burnout.

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