Top 10 Boundaries to Create at Work

Boundaries create a better workplace experience for you and your co-workers and are important to increase work productivity and satisfaction and establish a healthy work–life balance.

They can also help establish a realistic workload, minimize the risk of burnout and lower job-related stress. There are different types of boundaries that can be established, and these can include but are not limited to physical, mental, emotional, personal and time boundaries. The following list is a combination or overlap of these boundaries to set in a professional setting. It is also important to note that boundaries will be unique to individuals based on their personal needs and goals.

1. Set work hours and hold yourself accountable to them

Setting your work hours helps set expectations for how you want to focus your mental energy.

Expressing this boundary to others will assist in how they collaborate and work alongside you. An example could be setting a boundary for how to be contacted outside of work hours and creating written templates in advance to communicate this.

2. Identify and set priorities

Remember professional, personal and workplace expectations when setting boundaries regarding your priorities.

Gaining a better understanding of the organization and team’s priorities alongside your individual role’s priorities can help in creating this boundary. Understanding your daily workload will aid in planning boundaries around specific tasks.

3. Schedule time away from work

Taking breaks away from work can be helpful since they give you time to prioritize your personal life and allow you to relax.

Utilizing the time off that is offered is beneficial to take advantage of. If paid time off is not an option, establishing other ways to create a break from work for oneself is helpful. An example would be committing to taking a full lunch break while not checking emails or engaging in work-related tasks. Utilizing sick days to recuperate is also an important boundary to remember regarding taking time off.

4. Create a schedule

Creating a clear working schedule and sharing this schedule with your team is also another boundary to set.

This can be done by discussing your schedule with your supervisor, asking colleagues for advice, and planning how to meet your goals within specific time frames. Creating a schedule and blocking off certain times for meetings, breaks, lunch, email checking, and focused work can help you meet set expectations and goals.

5. Communicate how you would like to receive feedback

Having an open conversation with your supervisor or manager about how you would like to receive feedback can be a beneficial boundary to set.

This requires you to work on your self–awareness and reflect on what is important to you. Being mindful of your feelings and reactions to feedback is also essential. This also requires being honest and open with your supervisor and manager about specific needs that you may have.

6. Establish interpersonal boundaries with colleagues 

Creating boundaries with colleagues is a great way to create a healthy work environment.

An example of interpersonal boundaries would be setting specific times when you interact with your colleagues, such as only at after-hours work functions and during working hours. When setting this boundary, the goal is to ensure that your personal life remains separate from your professional life. Keeping your supervisor's and colleagues’ individual boundaries in mind as well is also important for creating interpersonal boundaries in the workplace.

7. Set limits

Setting specific limits is extremely helpful to ensure you do not burn out at work.

Once you have established your priorities and hours, creating ways to limit yourself regarding those is also important. This includes restricting the use of your personal items at the office or limiting your work activities based on the day's needs. Referencing your role’s responsibilities is a helpful guide to assist in setting limits that will not impact your duties. Creating templates is a helpful tool when limiting how much time you can give to an individual or project or when you have time to collaborate or contribute in your schedule.

8. Delegate work in an appropriate manner

Being mindful of your limits and reaching out for help appropriately when needed to complete tasks is also a useful boundary.

If you can delegate in your role, being mindful of how it can impact the workday of all of those involved is essential when setting this boundary. The goal of delegating work is to reasonably manage the workload allocated to you by establishing work practices that assist in overall productivity.

9.  Establish and share your preferred working and communication style

Being open and honest about how you work can aid in creating a healthy work environment between colleagues and supervisors.

Self-work comes into play again here to decide what is non-negotiable for you and what are certain aspects in the workplace that you could compromise on. Communication styles are also important to establish so that all parties involved can manage their expectations of interactions and outcomes.

10. Create a plan for managing setbacks and be consistent with your outlook

Having an additional plan in place when boundaries are pushed back on is essential to remember.

Examples of this would be creating templates or adjusting email or phone settings to reflect the boundary you are keeping in place. Being specific and direct is ideal in discussions surrounding boundaries that you have created. Creating a personal boundary of your outlook regarding this is essential as well. This requires individuals to hold themselves accountable for how they would like to conduct themselves in a professional setting. Creating a boundary to prioritize self-reflection can also assist in managing boundaries that you set in the workplace.

We can control what our boundaries look like in the workplace.

This can be difficult, but starting out with some of the points that are included in this list is a great way to start. Boundaries allow us to put our wellbeing first and foremost. When we feel our best, we act our best at work and at home.

Whatever it is, we’re here for you.

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How To Set Boundaries at Work - Better Up

16 Ways To Set Boundaries at Work and Why It Matters - Indeed

How to set healthy workplace boundaries - Charity Village

How to set healthy boundaries at work - The Globe and Mail

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