If you work online in any capacity, you more than likely have a hard time actually leaving the job when you leave the office for the day. We’re always connected wherever we go, and it’s insanely easy to slip into the habit of work always being on the mind. So, you’re not ruled by your smart phone—but the issue isn’t necessary with the phone. Whether you’re a freelancer or work for a boss, you are in charge of your career. Setting firm boundaries is key for your work-life balance, the success of your working relationships and the quality of your work itself. Here’s how to set boundaries at work and make sure you stay thriving.
Own your schedule
How often do you get an email and then immediately start taking action? And how often is it actually really urgent? An ask isn’t necessarily an immediate call to action (unless, of course, it is) but, knowing what’s important, what’s time-sensitive and what can wait is a key part of working smart-not-hard. Know your priorities and work accordingly. This will require some committed self-monitoring in your day. Things will always come up, but what doesn’t have to change is your control over the actions you take. So, find a time-planning system that works for you and stick to it. Whether it’s bullet-journalling, list-making, planning your day the night before, batching or uni-tasking, support yourself in owning your schedule.
Put your health first
You know how they say work is a marathon, not a sprint? That does not mean you better hurry the hell up if you want to win, it means you need to pace yourself. If you’re committed to your career, you’ve got to think long-term. That means putting self-care on your to-do list and treating it with the importance you do your other tasks. Burn yourself out in the first five years of your career and you won’t have any juice left to keep going. Keeping your spark and drive alive take work, too. Do this to keep feelings of resentment, overwhelm and anger out of the job, which is good for everyone in the long run. Know your needs and your limits and never ignore feelings when they come up.
Be clear and direct in your communication
Something you need help with? Can’t feasibly do everything on your plate? Hate everything that’s happening? Speak up. In most cases, your superiors will be open to hearing a new (and better) way of doing things and it will help you manage those expectations of you. When you’re honest and direct, then you’ll be more likely to be able to meet your deadlines, show up prepared and be consistent—and happy—at work. When you’re not direct, it leads to yourself and your colleagues being on different pages in how things are going, which will inevitably lead to resentment and confusion. Being direct and clear doesn’t mean being a jerk. Your tone and words do say a lot, too, but you’ll likely get more respect by being direct than by overthinking something and keeping it in.