The Power of Boundaries: Setting Limits to Preserve Work-Life Harmony

This article was written by Maya Fodor, Head of People Operations, Bolder Agency with a feature from Alex Kyriakidis, Founder of Tula Corporate Therapies, and a Health & Wellbeing Coach for the NHS who comments on the challenges that we can face around setting boundaries, and how to overcome them.


In our modern world where work can easily spill over into our personal lives through emails, notifications, and constant connectivity, maintaining a healthy work-life balance has become increasingly challenging. However, amidst the chaos, there lies a powerful solution: boundaries.

Boundaries are not about building walls or shutting people out; they’re about creating space for ourselves to thrive, both professionally and personally. They enable us to establish clear limits around our time, energy, and attention, allowing us to preserve our well-being and foster a sense of harmony between our work and personal lives.

Why Boundaries Matter

  1. Protecting Your Time: Setting boundaries around your time helps you prioritize tasks effectively and avoid overcommitting yourself. By establishing designated work hours and personal time, you can ensure that you have the space to focus on your work when needed and recharge during your downtime.
  2. Preserving Your Energy: Boundaries allow you to protect your energy by saying no to activities, tasks, or people that drain you. By identifying your limits and communicating them assertively, you can avoid burnout and maintain a sustainable level of productivity and engagement.
  3. Maintaining Healthy Relationships: Boundaries are essential for maintaining healthy relationships, both at work and in your personal life. Clearly communicating your needs and expectations helps establish mutual respect and understanding, fostering stronger connections and reducing conflicts.
  4. Enhancing Productivity and Creativity: When you set boundaries around your work time and create dedicated space for rest and relaxation, you can enhance your productivity and creativity. By allowing yourself to disconnect from work-related tasks and recharge, you can return to your work with renewed focus and clarity.

 

The Challenges around Setting Boundaries and How to Overcome Them

In theory setting boundaries makes absolute sense and is the right approach to manage work-life balance, however, it is not always easy. In fact, many clients I work with have struggled to set clear boundaries both professionally and personally, for various reasons:

  1. Fear of the Backlash or External Pressure

Worry and fear over how we may be treated if we try to set a boundary. For example, in a work context we worry that if we state we are not prepared to work past a certain time then we will be seen as less than a team player, or not as valuable, and that would impact our job security.

To overcome this we need to be able to place our own needs and priorities above those of our colleagues or superior, i.e. to value our own wellbeing and quality of life over external pressures. This comes with a shift in mindset and to the belief that our needs matter. From there expressing clearly what we are willing to do e.g. I will not stay at work or answer emails past ‘x’ time and then sticking to that is key.

  1. Lack of Clarity

At times it can be difficult to set boundaries as we are not really sure what is expected of us and what is within the remit of our roles. This is clearly something that should be set out from the get-go but sometimes isn’t, and if your role has evolved things can get blurred.

To overcome this it is important to have clear communication. Ask the questions that you need to, and also use it as an opportunity for you to define the role rather than be told. Assertive communication and a good understanding of what you actually want your role to entail is important here.

  1. Difficulty Saying ‘No’

This is one that comes up regularly and I think many of us struggle with. It can be very hard to say no, and much easier to ‘people please’ or be seen as the person that always does what is asked. Of course there is some merit in that however if it comes at a cost to your own personal and professional boundaries then it is something worth changing.

To overcome this I suggest my clients start practicing saying ‘no’ to small things at first. And to prepare for the discomfort that may follow, which may be guilt or worry over what others might think, or that they are being ‘selfish’. To work through that to a place of knowing that saying ‘no’ is healthy, and is absolutely their right to do.

How to Set Effective Boundaries

  1. Identify Your Priorities: Take the time to reflect on your values, goals, and priorities in both your work and personal life. What matters most to you? What activities or commitments align with your values? Use this insight to establish boundaries that support your overarching goals.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Effective communication is key to setting boundaries successfully. Be clear and assertive in expressing your needs and expectations to colleagues, clients, friends, and family members. Set realistic boundaries and communicate them in a respectful and non-confrontational manner.
  3. Be Consistent: Consistency is essential for maintaining boundaries over time. Stick to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and enforce them consistently, even when faced with pressure or resistance from others. Remember that your well-being is worth protecting, and honoring your boundaries is an act of self-care.
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially if you’re used to putting others’ needs ahead of your own. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate this process and remember that it’s okay to adjust your boundaries as needed. Practice self-compassion and celebrate your progress along the way.

 

Tools to Support Your Boundaries

  1. Time Tracking Apps: Tools like Toggl and RescueTime can help you monitor how you spend your time and identify areas where you may need to set boundaries more effectively.
  2. Task Management Platforms: Platforms like Todoist and Asana can help you prioritize tasks and manage your workload more efficiently, allowing you to set boundaries around your work responsibilities.
  3. Communication Tools: Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams facilitate seamless communication and collaboration with colleagues, enabling you to set boundaries around your availability and responsiveness.
  4. Mindfulness Apps: Apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided meditations and relaxation exercises to help you manage stress and cultivate a sense of calm, supporting your efforts to set boundaries and preserve work-life harmony.

 

The power of boundaries lies in their ability to create space for us to thrive, both professionally and personally. By setting clear limits around our time, energy, and attention, we can protect our well-being, enhance our productivity, and foster a greater sense of harmony in our lives.

Article by Maya Fodor, Head of People Operations, Bolder Agency with a feature from Alex Kyriakidis, Founder of Tula Corporate Therapies, and a Health & Wellbeing Coach for the NHS.

 

To give your team access to resources that will support them you may find the below workshops useful:

60-Minute Online or In-person Workshops
Reducing Stress & Managing Workload
How to Cultivate Calm Amid Chaos
Understanding & Alleviating Anxiety
Visit – https://corporate.tulatherapies.com/#WORKSHOP

Club Zen – your unique wellbeing service to affect wellbeing in wonderful ways:
Bespoke live weekly wellbeing sessions from mindfulness to mindset
Unique video and resource library with a range of wellbeing resource to help your people thrive
Visit – https://corporate.tulatherapies.com/club-zen/

Email me, Alex, at hello@tulatherapies.com

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