How To Set Boundaries At Work

Studies show that job stress is by far the most common source of anxiety among American adults, and it has risen steadily over the last few decades.

Setting boundaries can save you stress and give you a sense of control and freedom over how you live and spend your time at work.

Do you ever feel you say yes to too many things but don’t know how to say no?

Perhaps you don’t want others to think you’re harsh or nasty if you refuse.
You don’t want them to think you’re proud of yourself, but you’re hurting yourself and your emotions as well while also jeopardizing your life and family’s happiness.

If any of these looks like you, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed right now and wondering how you might solve your problem then, you need to carefully peruse through this piece.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of how to set boundaries at work, to enable you to live a productive life while you work. Before we delve into how to set boundaries at work, it’s necessary we first look at the importance of setting boundaries at work.

Why is it Important to Set boundaries at Work?

Brene Brown once said: “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

Below are some benefits of setting boundaries at work:

#1. It Fosters Productivity

Setting boundaries at work can help you be more productive since it helps you to focus on your duties and avoid workplace distractions.

#2. Helps to Keep a Reasonable Workload

Professionals commonly set a limit of only accepting a respectable quantity of work at a time. This allows you to concentrate on your job duties and work a reasonable number of hours.

#3. Reduces Workplace Stress

Setting boundaries can help you manage numerous workplace concerns, which can help you reduce work-related stress.

#4. Protect Your Mental Health

Setting appropriate workplace boundaries improves your mental health, which helps you perform better and build stronger working relationships with coworkers.

#5. Reduces the Risk of Burnout

Burnout can occur when there is a significant increase in effort and stress. It can reduce the danger of burnout by establishing boundaries around these factors.

How to Set Boundaries at Work?

If you’re having trouble setting healthy boundaries at work below are some of the ways you can set boundaries at work.

#1.Conduct a Self-Evaluation

Conducting a boundary audit, rather than simply approaching your boss is one of the best approaches on how to set boundaries at work because it helps you clarify where you need to set limits.

Your boundaries will be determined by your values, ethics, and priorities in life. Any work worth having realizes that it is foremost, a job and aside from work, you must also consider your personal life, relationships, passions, and personal space.

You can begin by becoming more aware of the individuals and situations that make you anxious. If you felt angry, resentful, or guilty, it’s a good sign that you need to re-establish or clarify a boundary. You can know these traits by conducting a SWOT Analysis.

#2. Understand Your Workload

After conducting self-evaluation and knowing your strength and weaknesses, the next step is to understand the jobs that make up your workload, as well as the number of everyday responsibilities you can handle.

Understanding both elements will help you create better boundaries for your work activities and stay productive throughout the day. Consider keeping track of how long you take to complete a task or your multitasking ability.

This might assist you in establishing a consistent work tempo and setting expectations for your role.

#3. Set Limit

Now, you’ve conducted your SWOT Analysis and defined the role of your job, you can start setting boundaries. For instance, instead of reading work emails at night, you may spend that time with your family.

Another option is to notify your boss that you require advance notice of work-related travel to organize your family vacation.

#4. Prioritize Your Tasks

In trying to learn how to set boundaries at work, it’s a good idea to prioritize before swinging to action. Prioritizing entails determining your personal and professional priorities, as well as considering your manager’s priorities.

If you’re a parent, you may set a limit that you’re only accessible to work during school hours to spend more evenings with your child because you likely prefer your child over your job.

#5. Beware of Burnout

World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome emerging from continuous workplace stress that has not been properly handled.

We can be fervently committed to our employment, feeling fulfilled, purposeful, and inspired, and burnout. The more enthusiastic we are, the easier it is for us to justify working long hours since we like and find meaning in what we’re doing.

So, balance giving your best to your job and maintaining or avoidance of stress.

#6. Communicate Early and Clearly

This is another culture you must imbibe if you’re asking how to set boundaries at work. Communicate your priorities and values once you’ve established them. If you don’t want to be contacted on your vacation unless it’s an emergency, be sure to specify what defines an emergency.

When you take the time to communicate upfront, you’re protecting yourself from future miscommunications.

#7. Maintain a Professional Relationships

While we all enjoy having individuals we care about at work, occasionally such connections become complicated to manage from a boundary standpoint.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t have a close friend or confidante at work. What we’re suggesting is that you should keep in mind that your professional connections should be kept professional.

#8. Delegate Work When Appropriate

In learning how to set boundaries at work one of the key points to consider is the ability to delegate work when appropriate. Any role that falls fully outside of your sphere of duty, you may say no or delegate the job to someone better suited to the task.

Having a clear definition of your job description and the work you’re willing to pick up as part of being a team will help you in delegating work when appropriate. However, delegating tasks is easier when you’re in a managerial position.

#9. Learn to Say No

It’s critical to know how to say no in a professional setting since it allows you to maintain limits. While some people may find this challenging, keep in mind that declining some requests is healthy and acceptable.

For example, you’re not wrong if you decline an invitation to attend a meeting during your lunch hour since lunch break is to enable you to have a little time to relax. It’s also important not to ask this harshly or vaguely, rather in a way that inspires some empathy from the other person.

#10. Bring Up Boundaries Violation

In determining how to set boundaries at work, you must develop the boldness to speak when your boundary is crossed. Ensure that you do this as soon as possible after a violation to ensure that it keeps its poignancy and that the individual violating it knows its significance.

Clearly express how you intend to keep the boundaries you’ve established to successfully support yourself, your team, and your organization.

Most individuals are probably ignorant of how their actions affect you, and they will appreciate being told if they crossed a boundary so they don’t make the same mistake again.

However, speak in a kind manner when addressing individuals that cross your boundaries.

#11. Use Technology to Help

Technology can be really useful for how to set boundaries at work. When seriously engaged, you can send automated away messages on your devices.

You can also use certain software to set your working hours, which will notify your coworkers of your availability. This can be useful if you’re serious about taking a vacation. 

Be Prepared For Boundary Violation

It’s unavoidable that someone will test your limits at some point. Just like crises anticipation in business, prepare for boundary violation by envisioning a boundary being crossed and then deciding how to address the circumstance.

Let’s say your employer calls you on Saturday. Visualize your reaction and then devise a strategy to deal with it. Are you going to respond quickly with the information he or she seeks? Will you react and say you’ll respond on Monday when you get home from work?

Will you answer on Monday morning, reminding him or her of your limits?

Having a game plan in place can help you be prepared and avoid getting swayed by your emotions.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Set Boundaries at Work

Setting work boundaries entails defining personal goals and restrictions that you may discuss with your coworkers and as well as your manager to maintain excellent mental health and productivity while at work.

Setting healthy boundaries can also aid you in the following ways:

  • Boost your self-esteem
  • Improve your mental and emotional health
  • Help you to understand your desire, and your values and ethics.
  • Draw your awareness to yourself and your health.
  • Help you avoid burnout 

Some of the examples of unhealthy boundaries at work are:

  • Sending emails at late hours
  • Not taking breaks
  • Inability to delegate or collaborate
  • Giving quick responses to everything

Some individuals mistake healthy boundaries for unreasonable requests, and one of the reasons for this is that they don’t understand how to set boundaries at work. Here are a few examples of healthy workplace boundaries.

  • Physical Boundaries
  • Mental Boundaries
  • Emotional Boundaries


According to the author and motivational speaker Tony Gaskins, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” 

The first step in showing people how to treat you is by learning how to set your boundaries at work. Factors will form your boundaries such as your values, ethics, and priorities in life. Any work worth having realizes that it is, first a job and aside from work, you must also consider your personal life, relationships, passions, and personal space.

Building boundaries takes time and practice so you must learn to be patient with yourself and your coworkers because boundaries will certainly be crossed. Instead of viewing violations as negatives, see them as opportunities to gain insight and improve on your boundary setting.

We hope this article has given your insight into how to set boundaries at work.



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