Do you find yourself prioritizing work above your own needs? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for preventing burnout and promoting well-being. As someone who has experienced burnout firsthand, I know how important it is to establish healthy boundaries in the workplace. This post will share tips and strategies that have helped me prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
As a high-performing individual who values integrity and cares deeply about my work, I understand that the circumstances of our work environment can significantly impact our ability to perform at our best. When invested in our work, we pay more attention to detail and communication and might even take on extra projects. However, this can lead to a lack of focus and burnout if we don’t establish boundaries.
Here are my top tips for creating healthy boundaries at work.
1/ Set work hours
One of the most critical boundaries I’ve set is limiting my work hours to the standard workday. Although it can be tempting to check emails or Slack messages outside of work hours, doing so can quickly lead to burnout and blur the line between work and personal life. I’ve found it helpful to establish a hard stop for work-related activities outside of regular work hours to maintain a healthier work-life balance.
Actionable tips: Are your work hours reasonable? Look at your schedule, and if you want to make changes, set work hours that make sense for you and stick to them. For example, if you set your work hours from 9:30 am - 5:30 pm, don’t check your Slack notifications before 9:30 am and don’t work after 5:30 pm.
2/ Limit Slack notifications
Another boundary that has been helpful for me is limiting the number of Slack notifications I receive. In the past, I used to be addicted to checking my messages, particularly when working with teams in different time zones. However, this increased stress and anxiety, as I felt obligated to respond to messages at all hours of the day. Turning off Slack notifications allows me to disconnect from work-related activities and focus on my personal life.
Actionable tips: Are you too available, and do you need to respond to every message immediately? If you can, shut off Slack notifications on your phone and limit the time Slack is open on your computer. Set up an notification on Slack to let people know you’re in focus mode and to expect delayed responses.
3/ Limit time spent in meetings
In addition to these boundaries, I limit the daily meetings I attend. Meetings drain our mental, physical, and emotional health, especially if we have many throughout the day. Therefore, I limit myself to three hours of meetings daily and up to three to four meetings daily, which helps me maintain my energy and focus on my work. Before setting boundaries, it was commonplace to have a day full of meetings and begin creative work at 4 pm; no one is doing good work in these circumstances.
4/ Experiment with different schedules
Lastly, I’ve experimented with different work schedules to add variety to my routine. For example, I’ve started going to the gym and having lunch during the workday, which gives me a much-needed break from the computer screen and allows me to focus better when I return to work. This tactic has helped me maintain my health and well-being while being productive at work.
Actionable tips: Do you like your current schedule; what does your ideal workday look like; what changes can you make to make your workday schedule ideal? At the beginning of the week, look at your calendar and plan your week. Identify how you’d like to see your schedule improve or change, and try it out.
5/ Slow down instead of speeding up
When we rush through our work, we are more likely to make mistakes, become overwhelmed, and experience burnout. Slowing down, instead of racing through the day, dramatically benefits our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. By slowing down, we can improve our focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and approach our work with greater clarity and creativity. Additionally, slowing down can help us appreciate the present moment and find more enjoyment in our daily lives.
Actionable tips: How do you feel about the pace of your day? Are you moving too fast or too slow; what changes can you make? Check-in with yourself each day; if you feel you’re moving too fast, decrease the number of things going on during the day. Cut back on meetings or block out time in your calendar to focus.
Establishing healthy boundaries in the workplace is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and avoiding burnout. By prioritizing self-care and communicating our boundaries with our colleagues, we can keep our energy high and focus on our work while caring for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Rules and routines are good, but we are allowed flexibility and to change them to suit us at any time. What does this mean for you? It’s good to identify your boundaries, but it’s up to you to decide the amount of flexibility or rigidity to apply on an ongoing basis. And it’s OK 👌🏽 to try new things anytime. Just because something works for us now doesn’t mean it will forever and in the future. Ensure you spend time on activities that give you energy and that your personal battery never runs too low.