I often speak to clients who find that work seeps into every aspect of their life.

They are people pleasers and find it difficult to say no because they worry about what other people will think. They find themselves overworked, underappreciated and find it impossible to switch off.

Setting clear work boundaries allows us to safeguard our time, our energy and our attention.

To be clear, I’m afraid there is no magic off switch that you can install in your head. It’s impossible to say “I will never think about work when I’m at home” and “I’ll never think about home when I’m at work” (the person that invents that switch is on to a winner).

However, setting clear work boundaries allows us to have dedicated time to focus on work and dedicated time to rest and recharge.

Here are some tips to help you get those boundaries in place:

1.    Know Your Worth

If you don’t feel that you are enough, you can use work as a way to seek external validation and feel better about yourself. You can then find yourself in a cycle of over-working, always being the one to take on additional responsibilities, first in the office each day and last out at the end of the day.

Other people come to learn that you can always be relied upon. It becomes a vicious cycle of you being given more responsibility and more work which can eventually lead to you feeling bitter and resentful.

Understanding your worth means that you can appreciate what you have to offer your team and your organisation. When you value yourself, you are better able to focus your time, energy and attention on the things that are important to you, rather than taking on everything that everybody else wants you to do.

2.    Don’t Apologise

When you get clear about the boundaries that you want to put in place, don’t apologise for them.

Be clear and concise and leave no uncertainty behind your intention and meaning.

Consider the difference between:

“Sorry to bother you but I just wanted to have a chat about how things are going on Project X”


“Could you please update me on Project X and the current timeframe for completion”

3.    Identify Your Non-Negotiables

There will be times that you need to compromise on your boundaries and it’s important to be clear on your non-negotiables ahead of time.

For example, never spending two consecutive nights away from home, never working on a Sunday, never missing a school assembly, and getting to your book club on the last Thursday of the month.

When you know your non-negotiables it makes it much easier to make decisions when compromise is required. If you have a busy period coming on a project that will require additional work, you can tolerate working on a Saturday but you, and your team, know that a Sunday is sacrosanct.

4.    Set Your Working From Home Boundaries

Working from home has become much more commonplace over the last few years. While it provides an element of flexibility it also comes with its own unique set of boundary issues.

With no commute or change of environment where work takes place, it can be easy for work and life to blend together. What hours will you work? Where in your home will you work? What hours will you be contactable? How will you signal the end of the work day? How will you make sure you get the headspace to be able to relax?

Working from home requires us to make an effort to make space for our life outside of work. We also need to clearly communicate our working from home boundaries with our team and our clients so they are respected.

Boundaries are a clear signal of the degree to which you value yourself and the message that you give to others about how you want to be valued. They allow you to focus your time, energy and attention in a way that is appropriate to you.

If you would value support getting your own work boundaries in place, feel free to book in my diary to talk – I’d love to help you – here is a link to my diary.

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