Hold up, That’s Out of Bounds!

I am often talking to individuals that have issues with being overworked. For me, this is a two way street between and employee and an employer.

Think about it, you aren’t the first person that has gone through this and won’t be the last, but you will start to have people grow tired of your complaints if you aren’t willing to do something about it.

In sport, if the ball is hit out of bounds, is an automatic point to the other team. But, if the other team hits it back, play continues.  The same could be said about the workplace – if you choose to continue play when your executive consistently goes out of bounds, you are inviting continued play.

So, here are the 5 steps to setting better boundaries and having a more fulfilled environment at work and at home.

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones What are your priorities in life? Family? Work? Horse? Your dog? Your health? This should dictate how you set your boundaries and spend your time. Constantly staying late at work and feeling like you can’t escape? That is a boundary YOU are setting and allowing others to take advantage of. Once you know what your priorities are, this will help you identify what should come first in life and be stronger in your decision making.
  2. Change yourself, others will followYou can’t change others behaviour, but you CAN change yourself. This means no longer accepting being walked over. Be prepared if you suddenly change your behaviour that people may not respond well, but they will come to understand and respect your boundaries. These changes should reflect what you see as a priority. Don’t expect anything to change unless you are prepared to make changes.
  3. Communicate (ahead of time!)ommunication is key in developing your relationship and boundaries with your executive or other team members. First, make sure you can still identify your personal priorities as this will make you stronger with your resolve to speak. Also, know your executive’s weakness. Not to exploit their weakness, but to be able to effectively work with it. Are they constantly getting things in to you late? Expecting you to stay after hours? Let them know that morning that you aren’t able to stay late any longer as its effecting your [insert priority]. E.g. I am needing to be home more for my children as its effecting their school work. Or, if they believe you do need to spend additional hours, ask that you be paid overtime as that is taking time away from your personal life, and if they need the added value from you, they need to value you too.. As long as you have been fair and reasonable (and remember, your contract probably dictates a certain number of hours too) then they will start to learn that if they get tasks to you late, it will likely need to be done tomorrow. If there is an issue with remaining inside your work hours, it is a business issue or a fundamental flaw within the way they have set up the business, not a personal flaw on your part.
  4. Actions speak louder than words – let your consequences speakCommunicated you are leaving at 5pm that day as you need to pick up your children? Leave at 5pm. Advise them (more than once) they need to get something in to you BEFORE 2pm for you to have it finished before the end of the day, and they give it to you at 3.30pm? Give it back to them in the morning. You have set boundaries, and have a role they do not completely understand, to do your best job, they need to listen to you too. These consequences speak much louder than words or reprimand will ever do.
  5. Say what you mean, and mean what you sayBe very clear in what you articulate. Do not ‘beat around the bush’, be upfront about your expectations so they can be clear on their expectations of you. There will be no misunderstandings, and they will hold your word as true. This goes for both positive and negative things!

Often, no boundaries, means little self-esteem. We spend a lot of hours and energy at our place of work, and it can affect our personal lives immensely.

Setting boundaries, focusing on what your priorities in life are helps you take a step back from your role and understand what you value. It means that while you are at work, you give 100%, but then have something left over for those you care about and what you truly value.

Any other tips on setting and staying to your boundaries?

Send them in to Caitlin@theeainstitute.com.au, I would love to hear them.

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