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Setting Workplace Boundaries – The Key to Avoiding Overstretching Yourself

We all have to work. But it’s also important to know when to take breaks and recharge so that your energy doesn't get drained away. The key is setting workplace boundaries and sticking to them.

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We all have to work. But it’s also important to know when to take breaks and recharge so that your energy doesn't get drained away. The key is setting workplace boundaries and sticking to them.


Uncontrolled or unhealthy work schedules, long hours, and working overtime make an overstretched employee. To prevent this from happening to you, it's important to understand what healthy workplace boundaries look like.

Healthy workplace boundaries are rules and guidelines that you have with the people who work with/for you, the clients you serve, and anyone else who comes into contact with you. Workplace boundaries ensure that you are respected and treated fairly, while also allowing you to make decisions without fear of repercussions. Essentially:

  • Boundaries are a way of saying "this is how I want to be treated, and this is what I expect from you."

  • Boundaries are about protecting our feelings and our integrity. They are a way of saying "I don't want someone to try to control me or manipulate me, or call me names or tell me what to do."

  • Boundaries protect us from being controlled by other people in the workplace. It's not about the person who has the boundaries; it's about the behaviour they choose to accept from others around them.

Workplace boundaries also help you to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which is an important part of professional success.

Setting these boundaries is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Here are some steps that you can take to set boundaries at work.


Identify your boundaries (and honour them)

The first step in setting workplace boundaries is identifying your boundaries. These are the limits of what you are willing to do for others and for yourself. Boundaries help us say no when we need to or want something done differently than we expected. They can also be used when someone asks us if they can help with something that is out of our line of duty (e.g., “I don’t have time right now”).

Communicate, communicate, communicate

You may be thinking that it's easy to communicate with your boss, but what about all the other people in your life? How do you manage this?

The first step is to figure out who needs to know and how often. If there are certain things only they need to know, then tell them (and make sure they're aware of when those times will be). Then other people can help out with this process by keeping an eye on what information is relevant to them. For example:


  • Your team members should know when a meeting is taking place or if a project is being discussed at work;

  • Your family members should know when something big happens at home;

  • Friends and acquaintances should have access to information regarding work-related activities so long as these aren't too personal.


Make it clear when you're not available

Your first job as an employee is to make sure that everyone else knows when you're unavailable for work-related activities. This means letting people know when you're going out of town or sick, and when you can't be reached by phone or email. You don't have to go into detail — just let them know if they need to contact someone else if they can't get through to you directly.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to be open to receiving and giving support. If you are struggling with something, reach out and ask for help.

The key here is being specific about what kind of assistance is needed so that everyone knows exactly where their role fits into this process.

For example, if someone has been feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks on their plate, they would appreciate some time away from work (or perhaps even fewer assignments). Let them know how much time is required before returning with fresh eyes tomorrow morning.

Keep an eye on your work-life balance

You can’t keep working all the time and expect to be able to relax when it’s time for your workday to end. If you need a break, take one. But if your body is constantly on edge, there’s no way that feeling good at home will be possible.

Aside from the physical toll, mental health issues that arise from being overstressed at work can lead to unhealthy work habits. The last thing we want is for someone who works hard every day not to be able to enjoy themselves when they get home because they're so stressed out about what they need to do next week or next month.

In conclusion, workplace boundaries are important in helping you avoid overstretching yourself at work and home. When you establish solid boundaries between your personal and professional life, you’ll be able to stay focused on what matters: your career.

Written by

Phil Ibsen

Phill Ibsen is a creative writer, scriptwriter and a storyteller who believes in telling the story as it is and not as it should be. He is the founder of Master of Descriptions, a production company which aims in showcasing authentic stories. He’s also an affiliate writer at the Writers Guild.

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