The pandemic seems to have blurred the fine line between personal and professional life even more. Many of those who started working more from home or 100% remote wanted to offer something in return after receiving this long-awaited benefit and automatically extended their working hours, accepted several tasks- than they could carry, or have avoided delegating as before, living with the impression that everyone has a lot of work to do anyway.
But unfortunately, what you consider to turn you into a model and indispensable employee can lead you to burnout, and once you reach burnout, your professional performance will inevitably suffer. And that's why it's important to set healthy limits at work, boundaries that will help you maintain your efficiency, limits that will allow you to continue to grow and that won't put you in a bad light.
What are the benefits of workplace limits?
Increase your productivity: setting boundaries at work allows you to be more efficient because you can focus on your tasks and avoid distractions at work.
Reduce the risk of exhaustion: sometimes, an increased workload and the stress associated with it lead to fatigue. Setting limits on these issues can reduce the risk of burnout.
Set an example for others: When setting boundaries, professionals can often set an example for other employees, creating a favorable context for a much healthier organizational culture.
Step 1: Find out your limits and communicate them.
One of the first things any employee should do when considering tips for setting healthy boundaries in the workplace is to discover their limits. This may take time, as personal and professional boundaries are not always clear. However, over time, you will become aware of them and what you need to do to ensure that these limits are not exceeded.
For example, you prefer to work alone on projects. However, your employer may ask you to get involved in projects as a group member regularly. As you participate in these projects, you may find that your limit for doing so is one monthly project. Or that you work better if such group projects are not carried out simultaneously. Various experiences allow you to understand your limitations better to communicate what you prefer.
It is also essential to get to a point where setting boundaries is comfortable. Again, this may take some time and may require some practice. Initially, you may feel that it is not your job to set boundaries and be afraid that you will be perceived as a person who is not a good teammate. But as long as you are open and honest and realize that your decision to set certain boundaries is a good thing (for you, as an employee, and an excellent decision for the organization), you will probably be surprised by the support of colleagues and superiors.
Step 2: Be willing and compromise.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is not being afraid to say "no" to various requests. However, saying "no" in a professional context is not always easy; in some cases, it may not be an option. Finding a solution may involve compromise. Let's say you're a parent who must leave work at a specific time to pick up their child from kindergarten. You may be given the right to depart 2 or 3 days a week earlier to bring your child home. But in return for those hours, you may be asked to come to work earlier to compensate for the lost time. Such compromises allow compliance with the limits while ensuring that the tasks are completed within a pre-determined timeframe. So be prepared to compromise when necessary,
Step 3: Re-learn the art of delegation.
You may feel you can do better if you complete the tasks independently. Or it may take longer to explain a study to someone than to do it yourself. Sometimes just because you don't trust your colleagues can motivate you to make that decision. But if you really want to have a healthy work environment, you need to let go of some of these fears or control issues and let others help you.
This does not mean you have to be disconnected entirely from a project or task you have delegated. Stay involved in the process to be informed and to offer advice and guidance. However, be very careful not to do micromanagement. Instead, rely on the skills of your colleagues, keep the lines of communication open with them, and provide direction when needed.
Step 4: Take some free time!
Another great way to set boundaries is to take time off - when there are legal holidays, when you need time for yourself or if the company offers you certain circumstances. Letting the holidays accumulate and possibly expire is not a source of pride. This time must be used because you have earned it. And when you decide to do it, set the out-of-office message that suits you best and takes advantage of the holiday to recharge your batteries. In the long run, your career will only gain if you know when and when you need to rest.
Step 5: Rely on technology to set these boundaries.
With the help of technology, you can lock a few hours a week in your calendar to dedicate yourself exclusively to a particular task. You can also use tools to set your work schedule, which will notify your colleagues of the hours you work and the time you have available to set specific meetings. There are also many applications for automating or delegating various tasks.
Burnout is not uncommon, and one of the leading causes of burnout is pushing your limits too far. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, being a dedicated teammate, or wanting to give extra help at work. But if you work too hard, you will find that your ability to do your job and, more than that, to do well could diminish. And setting the proper limits is the best solution!