Setting Boundaries Is Key to Balance

While on vacation, I responded to a few work emails while I was waiting for transportation. Everyone I emailed, immediately responded with “Stop emailing! You’re on vacation.”

Taking a vacation is one way to recharge. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Taking a vacation is one way to recharge. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

They were right to tell me to stop. Fortunately, one of them also was my boss.

It’s important to take a break from work, or anything else that consumes a lot of your time. By taking the break, you can reenergize and “sharpen your saw,” as author Stephen Covey says.

For the rest of my vacation, I only checked emails twice and that was to delete the ones that I wouldn’t need when I returned. It felt good to know that I wouldn’t face a few hundred emails upon my return. I saw no critical or time-sensitive email subject lines and, therefore, didn’t open any emails.

I thoroughly relaxed on my vacation as a result, and came back fully charged.

Giving yourself a vacation is one way to ensure you have good work life balance and the opportunity to recharge. It’s also a way of setting boundaries.

Another way is to set a start time and end time to your day. As someone working in PR, there will always be another deadline and another project. It’s important for me to set boundaries to arrive and leave at reasonable hours. I allow myself one day a week for a slightly longer day. This allows me to dig deep into a project or move many items forward a bit. The other days, I leave on time. In the past, I’ve asked others to stop by my office on their way out to remind me that it was time to go home. I no longer need that reminder so I know I’m making progress.

I also have established expectations with my supervisor and colleagues. An email after hours usually doesn’t require a response, but a text message or a phone call does. I’ve set different alert tones so I can be more attuned to texts and phone calls.

It’s important to establish boundaries. “If you cannot establish boundaries for yourself, you cannot expect others to do it for you,” says Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days.

One area I still need to work on is scheduling time for exercise, which is a great way to clear the mind and, often problem solve. I’ve managed to get out of the habit, but with an amazing gym facility where I now work, I simply need to establish my schedule. I’m starting this week by marking in my calendar which two days I will go to the gym. I’m starting with an achievable goal and will add days to it.

Finding balance and ways to recharge are your responsibility. What are you doing to achieve that balance? I’d love to hear your ideas and see if there are any I can try.

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