As a female professional in the C-Suite, you’ve got a lot on your plate at work. There’s the pressure of looming deadlines, triple-booked meetings, and project deliverables from your team to think about, but there are also all the things you hope to balance in your personal life.
When business leaders set healthy boundaries in the workplace, it can transform their ability to manage and motivate others while also freeing up space to have time for their personal lives. Simply put, boundaries can dramatically improve business performance, and they can create freedom for you to fit in all the yummy living you’ve dreamed about, like date nights with your partner or trying a new spin class. If you’re feeling like your career is taking over your life, it’s time to create some boundaries so you’re no longer living an all work/no play life.. Here are some strategies to get you started:
Creating Good Boundaries for Work/Life Balance
Set up guardrails around your non-negotiables.
Identify any non-negotiables in your time. Have a morning spin class you have to make regularly to meet your need for exercise? Or maybe you want to always be home for your kiddo’s bedtime. Identify areas that are non-negotiable boundaries and then make sure to communicate them effectively and transparently with your staff and family to ensure these needs are met consistently.
Learn to say ‘no’.
One of the most important things you can do is learn to say ‘no’. This can be tough for us high achievers who have created our success on being the go-to solution, but saying no is a necessary skill.
And the reason it’s important, is it’s vital not to get overwhelmed by work and find yourself feeling stressed about all that you have on your plate. Because too much overwhelm leads to burnout.
It’s also important not to overcommit yourself or take on too much responsibility in an attempt at being a “team player”, as this can lead you into doing tasks that aren’t necessarily within your job description or skill set. Be honest with yourself when setting boundaries around what tasks are manageable for you, so that others know where they stand with regards to asking for assistance from others in their group or department (a good rule-of-thumb is that if someone else has already been assigned a task then it isn’t yours).
Disconnect in 3 Key Areas
Now, we’re going to protect your mental and emotional well-being. To receive the benefit of disconnecting, you need to make sure it happens across three areas:
- Physical where you are no longer at work or behind your laptop.
- Mental where you are no longer thinking about work.
- And emotional where you are not emotionally tied to the office.
You probably already have a few strategies to physically disconnect. You might leave your laptop in the car or close your home office door. Perhaps you turn off your smartphone reminders.
Mental disconnection is harder. To do this well, you must not think about work when you step away and truly be in the moment in whatever you’ve chosen to do. This means if you are working out, you are thinking about your workout. If you are playing with your kiddos, you are engaged, present, and relating on their level. You can physically be disconnected from your work, yet still thinking about it. If that’s you, you’ve got to stop.
Otherwise, you will burn out because your psychology can only take so much. We are designed to require mental breaks. And if you don’t get those, you’ll become sluggish, anxious, and even less effective until finally, your psychology forces you to stop in the form of a breakdown.
Take care of yourself (and not just at work).
You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This is important in life, and it’s also a good principle to apply at work.
To set boundaries at work, you need to take care of yourself first. If you don’t feel emotionally or physically well, it will be hard for you to assert yourself in healthy ways.
The best way to take care of yourself is by following these simple steps:
- Make sure that your body gets enough sleep every night (7-9 hours).
- Eat nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day whenever possible.
- Get your workouts in. Having regular exercise makes us feel better physically—and more importantly—it helps us feel better emotionally as well!
Everyone needs boundaries, and it benefits everyone in the long term if you set them up early and stick to them.
Everyone needs boundaries, and it benefits everyone in the long term if you set them up early and stick to them. If a boss or client consistently has demands for you after work hours, or bugs you about something when they know you’re busy on another project, consider whether that’s an issue. If it is an issue, it may be time to have a discussion on your boundaries and why you need them. Make it clear that these boundaries are in place to help you continue to be the high-performer they know you to be.
In addition to setting personal boundaries at work, think about how much time off of work should be allotted for other things like family obligations or exercise activities—and don’t let anyone (yourself included) try to cross those off your priority list!
There are a lot of different ways to set boundaries at work and it’s important to experiment to find what strategies work best for you. Good boundaries are vital for preventing burnout and keeping you at the top of your game. I hope this helps you realize it’s possible to set boundaries in your high pressure career while maintaining your reputation at work and giving you enough space to THRIVE in your personal life.
Learn more about overcoming burnout and how to revitalize your career in our latest masterclass.