Boundaries: The secret to work-life balance

Each time you work extra, you spend less time on the other factors of your life…including your family and yourself. 

The way to combat this is much easier said than done.  Set boundaries and stick to them. 

But, how do you do that when you are feeling pressure to stay late, work extra, and compromise other aspects of your life?

Well, it really depends on how you introduce those boundaries to yourself and to others in your life.  Use the following strategies to help you find the balance you crave.

  1. Set Realistic Time Boundaries

We all know about the 40-hour work week, but this is not the norm for a lot of professionals.  Ask yourself as well as your employer how many hours you should dedicate each week to your job. 

You may want to work 45-50 hours out of the 112 weekly hours that you are awake.  Or your employer may be more focused on productivity rather than time.  Which means efficiency is your best friend.

Whatever the case, select the total hours per week that you will work.  Develop a schedule in which these hours are routinely reached.  Write it down and share it.

  1. Define Working Behaviors

The location of your work is not as important as the behaviors that you do to engage in work.  Why do I say this?  Well, too many times do I have clients who discover that their phone and laptop are conduits to work…conduits which accompany them everywhere they go. 

Emails, phone calls, scheduling, and more are all involved in work and need to be recognized as working behaviors.  Separate work communication from social communication with different email addresses, phone numbers, and even social media accounts. 

Write down all of your actions related to work for at least one day.  Determine the actions that could easily invade your personal life.  Set boundaries on these and include them in your time boundary. 

(*Extra tip: Determine whether professional behaviors such as volunteering, being active in a professional organization, or professional gatherings are going to be included in your work time or your social time.)

  1. Be Rigid

You need to be unwavering in upholding these boundaries.  Hence the need for realistic boundaries that include pre-defined exceptions and pre-planned breaks. 

This means that only emergencies of vital concern can lead to flexibility in your boundaries.

  1. Write Them Down

Make a full commitment to these boundaries by writing them down on paper (or typing them up).  This will not only make these boundaries more concrete, but will also help you clearly define them.


  1. Share Them With Others

Help others hold you accountable by sharing this with your employer, your family, and your friends.  If it impacts them, share it with them…this may even mean your coworkers who rely on you.

This is often the key to finding work-life balance…let everyone know your efforts in doing so.  Those that are interested in your happiness will support you.  Those who won’t support you are not worth your time.

Follow these strategies to develop, compose, and communicate your work boundaries. 

Do not forget, that balance goes both ways.  Unexpected family time will lead to compensatory work time.  But, let’s face the facts…this is not typically the case.  Plan this in your boundaries and you will not need to lean on flexibility to make them work. 

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Also, check out the online course, Developing Your Career Plan, to earn 5 CPEUs while planning the career that considers your value for balance.  


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