DEMARCATING YOUR LIMITS!
Boosting productivity and quality by conserving energy – Pallavi Pinakinatened
The art of setting personal boundaries gives us more control over our time, energy and relationships. It allows us to focus our attention carefully and hone in on the more important things in life without being waylaid by tasks or interpersonal interactions that aren’t quite as significant.
Much like in one’s personal life, it’s essential to develop and reinforce workplace boundaries.
Setting healthy boundaries in the office boosts productivity, improves the quality of your work and reduces the risk of burning out. Boundaries are beneficial to you and your team. When individual members are calmer, happier and less anxious, it’s easier for the entire group to cooperate and collaborate effectively to produce their best work.
However, drawing these limits can be quite challenging – especially in the modern world of 24/7 corporate culture and ambitious startups, where employees are expected to wear several hats and constantly over perform. The recent working from home trend has further blurred the lines between professional and personal time. These five recommendations will help you demarcate your limits in a professional context and set the boundaries that may be necessary in the workplace.
SAY ‘NO’ We’ve all experienced that niggling feeling that we may come across as rude or lacking team spirit – even when it is well within our rights to say ‘no’ to a request.
Logically speaking, we know it’s better to decline a meeting request politely or say ‘no’ to unreasonable work demands; but the power of other people’s opinions pressures us into accepting responsibilities we really shouldn’t have to undertake.
The only way to overcome your discomfort is to practise saying ‘no,’ starting with afterhours work. Begin by saying ‘no’ to pushy salespeople or friends who are always taking you for granted. Be courteous, yet firm. This skill will soon be transferred to the workplace, and become a powerful tool to safeguard your time and energy.
A good hack to help you decide when to say ‘no’ is to consider whether the task at hand will help you achieve your professional goals. If the answer to that question is ‘no,’ then your response should be the same.
BE CLEAR Remember, everyone has different limits. For example, some people have a hard-and-fast rule against discussing politics or family with colleagues while others thrive on such discussions in the workplace.
So when it comes to outlining your personal boundaries, it’s important to be crystal clear if you want them to be understood and respected. Let coworkers know what subjects are okay for discussion and which matters are off the table.
SET LIMITS Establish your availability schedule. While going above and beyond your regular work from time to time is unavoidable and even admirable, it’s vital not to establish a pattern of constantly working overtime or taking work home.
Begin by making your team fully aware of your work schedule. If your hours tend to be scrambled, you could send a message or email at the end of business hours to let the office know you’re done for the day.
On days off, harness the power of auto responder. When on holiday, you shouldn’t have to field requests to address workplace issues –especially small matters that can be handled by someone else. If you’re in a leadership role, set these boundaries before you leave. Give your team a list of topics that would warrant contacting you during your vacation.
FOLLOW LIMITS We need to respect the boundaries we create for ourselves. For instance, do you silence work notifications when you’re out of office?
Even if we resolve not to check our emails after work is over, it can be tempting to take a peek and start problem solving when your phone beeps. To avoid this temptation, mute work notifications during your personal hours.
Another aspect is the demarcation of work and private spaces. In the office, this could mean not checking emails or picking up calls while you’re on a break or taking a well-earned time out. If you work from home, try to create a designated workspace – the very act of closing the door behind you at the end of a working day can refresh your mind.
REPEAT LIMITS Before taking it personally, consider whether boundary crossers made a simple mistake out of ignorance or misunderstanding. If so, you can reiterate your limits in a calm and non-confrontational manner. If it was an honest mistake, your clarification should fix it.
If the same person repeats the mistake over or over however, or the offence seems calculated, it’s essential to demonstrate firmness. Stand your ground and take the matter higher up the chain if necessary. After all, it’s crucial to safe guard those boundaries that protect your wellbeing and health.