Have you ever woken up in the morning and dreaded going to work (or logging in virtually), not only because of all the things you need to do but because of the people that surround you? Whether that’s management or coworkers, feeling like someone is stepping over your boundaries can be overwhelming.
It can come down to something as simple as they don’t understand your boundaries. They haven’t been told that you’d rather not bridge your personal life with your work life or they haven’t figured out your work style and how you succeed and respond best. So, you will need to make it plain for them.
Of course, you don’t want to insult any of your co-workers or management, but how will you be able to set boundaries? Don’t worry, here are 7 ways you can set boundaries with your colleagues.
1. Keep Your Personal Life Out Of The Office
One of the best ways to set and keep your boundaries is to leave your personal life outside of the office. It can be tempting to want to talk about your own personal issues, just to get them off your chest, but by doing so, you’re inviting your colleagues into your personal life too.
Of course, this can be a form of relief for you, but it removes that boundary that separates your personal life and your work life. So, try to keep your personal life out of the office. This will help you not only keep that boundary, but it’ll ensure that your professional life isn’t impacted by whatever issues you’re facing.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to not talk about your personal life, especially if you’re trying to get to know your work colleagues, and you may have no choice but to talk about it. Instead of suppressing the urge, limit how much you tell your colleagues.
The more details you give, the less effective that boundary is. So, if you must talk about your private life, give as little detail as possible, so that your colleagues will feel like they’re getting to know you, but without intruding into your private affairs.
2. Let Your Colleagues Know You’re Not Affected By Them
More often than not, we react to everything that our colleagues and friends say, to let them know that we’re interested in what they’re saying. You don’t always have to, especially if you’re trying to set boundaries between yourselves. When a colleague says something, you can react of course, but make sure it is in line with your emotions.
Do you find that story particularly interesting? If not, why don’t you just smile to acknowledge the story, but don’t over-react. That way, you’re not straining yourself, to look engaged. You can still be engaged with your colleagues, but without feeling exhausted at the end of the day.
3. Pack Your Own Lunch/Snacks
One of the most common ways colleagues will try to connect with you is through food or even virtual happy hours. By buying food for you, or offering you their snacks, they can remove that boundary. So, if you want to keep your colleagues at bay, pack your own snacks and lunch.
That way, you have the power to offer them your food, thus you are the one that can choose who you can remove that boundary for. Food is a major factor in many relationships, so be sure you know who you want to connect with, and who you don’t.
4. Take Your Lunch Breaks
For many people, their work is the most important thing they need to focus on, at work, and as such, they’ll work through their lunch breaks, without stopping. While it may seem like they’re productive, it can lead to more stress, an exhaustion burnout, and more demands that they may not be able to handle.
So, make sure to take your lunch breaks, not only to help de-stress you, but also to make sure you’re not taking on too much work. Otherwise, you’ll be expected to continue doing more than what you’re supposed to do.
5. Turn Off Your Notifications
Sometimes your work tasks can take you away from your personal time. Essentially, you might get a late night or an early morning notification from your boss, because you need to do preparations for an upcoming meeting, and it’s “urgent”.
Nothing is really urgent, and if it is, it should be a life-or-death situation. Chances are when your boss has an “urgent” task for you, it’s because they, or their bosses, had forgotten about it. So, you’re the one stuck with the task. Don’t take the blame for it. If anything, turn off all your work notifications, and should they ask, show them that you value your personal time after work.
Some may appreciate it, others may not, but that’s not what is important. Your own mental state is. So, turn off your notifications and power off, from your work life. It doesn’t need to dictate your personal life as well.
6. Establish Your Priorities
There will be times when colleagues and bosses will ask you to do a million tasks, all at once and it can seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath and prioritize your work. Like with turning off your notifications, not all your tasks are priorities. When your colleagues ask you for your help, or your boss asks for a task to complete, consider the urgency of the task.
Are they tasks that are necessary for others that are going on now? Or do they have a deadline? Prioritize the tasks that you know you need to do. Maybe make a task list to remind you of those other tasks you’ve been asked to do, or as other colleagues to help you with your burden.
7. Set Your Routine And Clock Off
The last thing you need, at the end of a workday, is to find an email fly in before you clock out. It’s ok if you read that email, but don’t act on it. Let it wait for the morning. Of course, if it is an urgent task, then by all means complete it, but for the most part, these last-minute emails can wait for the morning.
So, don’t stress over them. And if you’ve turned off your notifications for work emails off (as we’ve mentioned before), they should know and understand that you’ll only be able to work on the task in the morning, and won’t expect it to be done immediately.