Setting Work Boundaries

There are times when we reflect upon our work schedule and know that it is off balance. Sometimes this may come from a difficulty in saying no, a strong work ethic, a heavy caseload, the need to achieve. In any case, we are not doing ourselves any favours by ignoring the importance of setting personal work boundaries – ones that are created with self-care in mind.

  • Book end your day. Have a start time and an end time that is reasonable and achievable. Not sticking to this daily schedule should be the exception, not the rule.
  • Reset at lunch. I have noticed that if I don’t get outside for even a 15 minute walk around the block at lunch, my afternoon feels longer. A bit of fresh air and knowing I have set aside time for myself at lunch resets my energy for the afternoon.
  • Let work stay at work. Turn off the email notifications on your phone, let work phone calls go to voicemail. Technology has allowed us to send messages along to people when we are thinking about it – that doesn’t mean it can’t wait to be answered during business hours.
  • Create a weekend. Two days a week should be off limits to work; spending time instead on what brings us joy. Some of us have Monday to Friday jobs and we can honour the no-work-weekend rule, for others who work shifts, it will be important to create a weekend.
  • Only take on what you can handle. It’s really okay to say no. When you take on everything that is expected of you, a precedent is set. Knowing and expressing your limits will help to keep your work from spilling into your personal time.
  • Create an inviting work space. Your work area can be a reflection of your personality; keeping it neat will help.
  • Pace and timing is everything. Take a break to make yourself a tea, close the door if you really need to concentrate, remember that not everything has to be done in a mad rush. When we have a balanced pace to our day, we are feeding our comfort system. It is possible to have a reasonable work day.

Keeping these tips in mind will help in creating a work day that is balanced and productive. When we keep our self-care in mind, we are allowing for a greater, richer performance. After all, as the Chinese proverb goes “We can’t pour from an empty cup.”

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