Word-Of-the-Week #712: Boundaries

March 29, 2018 by  

Boundaries the limits you define in relationship to someone or to something.

How easy is it for you to leave work? How often do you take work home with you? Do you feel guilty if you’re not the first person (or last) at the office?

This Inc. article from Marla Tabaka seemed like the perfect follow up to last week’s Unplug. Out of office (really) How to leave work behind at the end of the day.”  

“You can turn off your computer at the end of the day, but shutting down work-related thoughts isn’t as simple as pushing a button. 

An inability to disengage from work has its consequences, including high stress levels, lowered productivity and damaged relationships. It also puts you in danger of being seen as a very dull person. 

A client recently told me that her older sister confessed to missing their little sister because all she talks about is work. Where’s the fun in that? 

Working from a home office for about 20 years has forced me to find little tricks to successfully separate my work and personal life. These simple steps can make a big difference. 

  • View your disengagement as productive

Setting goals is important and setting boundaries gives us the energy and clarity to achieve them. 

I recently bumped into an acquaintance in a coffee shop who rambled on about why it was OK that he chose to sleep an extra 30 minutes instead of racing to the office. Obviously, he was trying to talk himself into believing it, and I was happy to be a sounding board. But this is a silly thing to feel guilty about. How can a person be productive when he or she is exhausted? 

Study after study shows the importance of resting the mind and body. You’ll be clear-headed and productive when you nurture your relationships, eat right and get enough sleep. 

You are achieving something important when you take yourself out of work mode. 

  • End the day on a good note

Leaving work with an incomplete project or a problem weighing on your mind makes it difficult to disconnect. To close out your day, send a signal to your brain telling it to switch to something pleasant and let the problems rest until you intentionally switch back into work mode. 

Make a phone call to thank or compliment someone, scratch some things off your to-do list or jot down a couple of positive things about your day. Sometimes it’s a stretch to find the good in a particularly difficult day, but believe me, it’s there. 

  • Straighten up your office

When I walk out of a messy office, it leaves me with a nagging feeling that I’ve left something undone. Why carry frustration into the next segment of your day? My daily clean-up ritual signals the end of the day for me, and I walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Being organized also saves an immense amount of time, once again adding to increased productivity. 

  • Connect with someone outside of work

When you call a friend, your brain switches gears, setting you up to move into your personal agenda. Make the conversation about the friend rather than your work, especially if you’ve had a stressful day. Instead of opening up an opportunity for negativity, avoid asking the standard, “How was your day?” and ask about the good or exciting things that happened since you last spoke.” 

This week’s focus is on boundaries. Would your family or friends say “all you ever talk about is work”? How often do you leave work on a positive note? What can you do to “switch gears” so you can move into your personal agenda quicker?

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