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What Are Your Boundaries At Work?

Originally posted: November 8, 2017 on TrishMcFarlane.com

The thing I love most about the Internet is the availability of information.  For all the evil, bad things that are out there, you can find as many inspirational and informational stories too.  Each morning, I spend a few minutes on StumbleUpon, and I’m always amazed at the things I learn by stumbling.  Yesterday, I came across a video by Mayim Bialik on the Meaning of Mezuzah.  While I am not Jewish, I thought it would be interesting to learn about this ancient practice.  I’m glad I did.

In this 3 minute video, she talks about boundaries in life and how they impact the way we live, the choices we make, and what we do and do not do.  Regardless of your religious beliefs or affiliations, the message is a good one for all of us.

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“Boundaries give me a sense of hyper-awareness. I am present in my life when I have decisions to make about what works for me, and what doesn’t.”

Think about that in terms of your work life.  For many people, being truly present at work is not possible.  The demands of very busy jobs, ones where they take pride in the rapid pace, makes present, thoughtful decisions a luxury.  These are the jobs where your days are filled with back-to-back meetings, fire drills, and last minute requests with tight deadlines.  So, how do you combat those work environments and work differently?

Create Boundaries

  • Block off time to think–  It may sound crazy, but you’ll find that having 30 minutes or an hour each day to think through what you’re facing is an excellent way to slow the pace to a more manageable level.  This practice also enables you to have quiet, focused time for any large project or strategic initiative.
  • Be mindful of your total hours worked-  In a connected world of today, you can find employees working all hours of the day or night.  For me, I like that flexibility.  However, it becomes dangerous to your health or psyche when you consistently remain “on” and available at all hours of the day or night.  Set boundaries on what times you will be available for colleagues.
  • Limit how you accept work assignments-  Today, most of our work is assigned via email from a number of people in an organization.  However, if you look closely at most emails, there are very few that request that you, specifically, are the one to take on the ask.  I recommend taking a couple weeks to only “do” work that someone assigns to you directly.  If twenty people are cc’d with you on an ask, don’t assume that you must be the person to jump in and tackle it.  Make that a new boundary.
  • Limit meeting attendance-  Only attend meetings where you can add value and are a necessary attendee.  For those that are only informational for you, delegate to a team member or ask for a recording that you can listen to at a more convenient time.
  • Choose and communicate a boundary for personal learning- Communicate to your team how you save time for your own personal development.  Let them know that you support them taking time for themselves to learn, to rejuvenate, and to be inspired.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  What are other ways you can create boundaries at work to help you take control of your time, the pace and your overall productivity and happiness at work?

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