5 ways to set boundaries at work

Yes. This is a career blog.

Yes. My career field is communications.

But I also have a life outside the pleasant prison of the pen. And it was earned the hard way.

When I started out, I was a  workaholic. Six or seven-day work weeks, multiple jobs at a time. It was insane. It was normal. After  ruining relationships and missing out on good times with family and friends*, I made a conscious decision to set some boundaries when it came to the world of work. Today, I have one job, freelance only when I’m really into a project and write more for sport and pleasure than profit.

One of the hardest things to do is set boundaries when it comes to work. Smart phones keep us connected to the office  24/7, and some bosses notoriously get things done — and want you to get things done — at all hours of the night and morning. With so much of our identities easily wrapped up in our career (“What do you do? is a common question upon an initial meeting), setting boundaries isn’t just important, it’s mandatory for a happy life.

As Stever Robbins writes, waiting on someone else to do this for you is a recipe for failure:

Guess what? If you wait for your boss to help you separate work and play, you’re out of luck. Your boss’s only goal is to get you to devote your entire life to slaving for the company without being paid extra. That is called “being on salary.”

Not quite sure where to start? Here are five ways to set boundaries at work.

Don’t be a slave to email
I know, our smart phones and computers have all these cool ring tones and sounds when an email arrives and the blinking light on smart phones can be a real distraction when in plain sight. Resist the urge to check email every time something comes in (unless you’re expecting something major). Check email at set intervals during the day and remind co-workers or clients to call for urgent matters.

Don’t forget to clock out
Since our identities are often wrapped up in our career, taking work home seems like par for the course. When possible, leave work at work. The stack of papers won’t jump up and run away overnight.

Prioritize
Excluding deadlines, most things not finished at the end of the work day can wait until tomorrow. Know when to call it a day.

Unplug
Turn off your phone and computer. If not for the entire evening, a designated part of the evening.

Think about a career change
If your current position doesn’t offer  the type of work/life balance you’d like, it’s time to think about switching careers. Life is short. Nobody ever died wishing they’d spent more time at the office.

This heartbreaking video drives that point home.

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