Why is setting boundaries so difficult at work? Are we afraid that we will get into trouble or lose our job? Or do we worry about what others will think of us if we create and stick to our boundaries?

On the other hand, what will happen if we do not create borders? We can be overwhelmed, burned out, and put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own, which can mean saying a lot of “no” to the things we really want. This can be especially difficult if you work remotely or at home.

How to set work limits when working remotely

As difficult as they are to set, boundaries at work are crucial to our mental, emotional and physical well-being. The good news is that with the right steps and practice, it becomes easier.

So what are these steps?

Here are 13 ways to set work limits when working remotely.

1. Have strong motivating reasons behind setting boundaries

What could you do differently if you had more time and energy during the day? How would you feel? Would you spend more time with the people you love, or try new or fun activities?

Find a reason or two that will force you to create and maintain boundaries, something worth the effort. Having a strong motivation to do something helps to encourage us to work harder for this purpose. Strengthening motivation makes us more resilient and harder to strive to achieve what we want to do, such as making plans, developing our talents, and even setting boundaries.

When you work remotely, you may sometimes feel that you are not working enough or not doing enough. Creating boundaries also means knowing when to unlock and enjoy life after work.

2. Identify any fears or beliefs you have around boundaries

One of the main reasons we are not good at setting boundaries at work is that we are afraid of the consequences: losing our job, missing out, hurting someone’s feelings, and so on.

For this step, list any fears or beliefs you have around the boundaries, and then evaluate how well-founded they are. For example, would you really be fired if you didn’t respond immediately to your boss’s email after hours? Or is it just a story you’re telling?

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Pay attention to any realistic or rational beliefs that may be detrimental to you, as you may need to adjust upcoming strategies to adjust to them. Because you work remotely, plan a weekly checkup with your boss or team to make sure everyone’s feelings are heard and needs are met.

3. Create your ideal schedule

One of the benefits of telecommuting is the creation of routine actions around your work schedule. If you could create your perfect schedule, what would it look like? How does it fit into your working hours? Is it aligned?

Setting boundaries also means taking time for lunch breaks. Although working from home may tempt you to bring your food to the desk, be sure to ask yourself if this is something you would do if you were in the office.

Set aside time for meals, meditation sessions or even a quick workout during the day. Creating boundaries also means taking care of your physical and mental health.

4. Block your calendar to keep up with your ideal schedule

Get your ideal work schedule, update your calendar to reflect it.

Block the moments when you don’t want to be available. This eliminates the chance of someone booking you for an appointment during your “holiday” without first consulting with you for permission.

If someone still reserves you during your blocked time, remind them that you are not available, and ask them to reschedule when you are.

5. List the 5 best priorities in your life, personally and professionally

Take a moment and think about the five most important things for you at the moment.

The next time you receive a job application, take a moment before answering to check it against your priorities. If aligned, great. If not, go back to the person and see if another solution can be found.

Yes to something is always not something else.

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6. Communicate, communicate, communicate

It may be more difficult to communicate in a distant world, so this step is especially important. The last thing you want is for your boundaries to cause you problems.

So often it is not that you have a limit that irritates your colleague, but that your colleague did not know where you are or the state of a particular task or element.

If you go out during the day, let your team know how long you will not be available and when you are expected to return. Whether you need to go out to clear your head or get an emergency, sending an instant message to your manager or team can alleviate stress in the workplace or improper communication.

7. Have a system for friends

Depending on the industry, some people may have urgent requests that need to be processed. In this case, see if there is a friend system that can be set up.

Creating boundaries is an assessment of how much work you can do without compromising your personal and mental health. With a friendly system, you will encourage and help each other if the plates on one of them are too full.

Communication is also key.

8. Say no

Why is it not so difficult to say?

Because this is where all these fears and beliefs can come true – the key word here is “can”.

One way to work on this fear is to practice saying no. Start with something small and gradually go up. Over time, it will become easier and you will soon have a reputation for sticking to your limits, a quality that many will admire in you.

Remember that when you say no to someone or something, you say yes to something else – something that is probably on your priority list that will fill your glass.

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9. Give an example

The boundaries are delightful and something we want in other people.

Sometimes it is a matter of reflecting on these traits and applying them yourself. Have an open conversation with your boss or project manager about different ways to set boundaries as a remote team.

Most of the time, employees need examples and tend to follow the example of their manager. Creating healthy boundaries together can lead to more engaged and happy employees as a result.

10. Delegate

In addition to saying no, delegating tasks to other team members is another challenge that people can have, especially when working remotely.

I understand. Everyone has a lot of things on their plates and working from home makes it harder to understand everyone’s workload.

Feelings that may arise when delegating tasks may include feelings of guilt about potentially adding someone else to the plate. Choose a few items to delegate to your team, especially if it works better for the job.

Also, don’t decide what a team member may or may not be able to handle. It depends on them and their ability to stick to their boundaries and communicate in other ways.

11. Ask for help

Following the advice above, if you feel that your workload is too heavy to manage, or that all your results are due at the same time, ask for help. Sometimes, while working remotely, we tend to take on more than we can handle.

Your manager and leadership team get big money for a reason – to help their employees solve problems. Get to know them halfway by tracking your tasks and seeing how long a task or project can take.

Managers can then better prioritize your workload, adjust deadlines, or remove some items from your plate.

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12. Turn off work at the end of the day

Remote work made it difficult to stop work at the end of the day.

Part of creating boundaries involves saying yes to you. Shut down and put your computer away. Turn off phone notifications.

Imagine turning on your phone for charging, but turning it off every five minutes; the battery will not be fully charged. Our minds and bodies work the same way. We need to take time off from work to recharge our batteries and also enjoy the world outside.

13. Evaluate and adjust

Just as new products go through many iterations, so can our strategies and plans.

Test some limits to see what works. Adjust any that you don’t think is correct, and then test again.

The last thing that remote work should cause is anxiety or burning. Find a system that works for you and ask your colleagues how they manage their work boundaries.

Last thoughts

Setting boundaries at work is difficult, especially in a remote world where we think we need to be more accessible. But it is also important to take care of our well-being.

What is key is to set and adhere to boundaries that benefit you, and to identify any obstacles along the way. Be sure to report your work and personal needs and adjust as you go.

Presented photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com


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