How to Set Boundaries Between Your Work & Personal Life

Do you struggle setting boundaries between your job and personal life? Do you scroll through work emails while watching the Netflix queue? Do you spend an hour working on a project for your boss on Sunday? Do you often cross the line between work and play? Do you take a personal call during work hours? Do you browse the net shopping before your next meeting?It is normal for either life to tickles into the other life because our lives are not neat little compartments, and it is only natural that there is bound to be some blending between work and personal identities. In an ideal world, we could integrate the two lives, rather than being obsessed with balancing them. Firm guidelines are necessary to ensure that one side of our lives does not overwhelm the others. There is not a one size fits all solution, but consider these steps to help you set boundaries between your work and personal life.

Progress Over Perfection

We are not perfect and we will still answer an urgent work call on a vacation day or will scroll through the social media while answering work emails. The psychology description of this situation is “cognitive role transitions,” in which a person is engaging in one role while thinking about another. Examples of the “cognitive role transitions” are getting dressed for work and remembering buying milk, or being out with friends and remembering that you forgot to turn on the laundry dryer before you left. Setting boundaries involve serious changes in routines and habits and understanding this fact will help in tackling the next steps with a positive attitude.

Restrictions & Limitations  

What is doable for you might not be for others, it is important for you to take a hard look at your situation and recognize your restrictions and limitations within your schedule. Doing so will help you set boundaries that work best for you. When setting boundaries, be consistent with your boundaries, keep them simple, be responsible for your reactions rather than blaming other people, and be flexible. However, the struggle comes into place as people are putting pressure on themselves to prevent these transitions from naturally occurring. An example of such a situation is feeling guilty missing your kid's soccer game.

Make a Schedule

Put your boundaries in writing, remember and respect those limits. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend the authors of the book “When to say yes, when to say no, to take control of your life” mentioned that people who write their goals are more likely to achieve them. After writing the boundaries, communicate with individuals in your surroundings, inform them with your new life, and you will have a much easier, guilt-free time holding yourself to your boundaries.

Have a Reflection Period

Creating boundaries is not a “set it and forget it” job. You should have a monthly reflection period to check on how boundaries are balancing your work and personal life. Do not be afraid to adjust your boundaries when necessary; nothing is set in stone.Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend examined the influence of the cognitive role transitions on employees work performance. The researcher stated that employees who kept their work life and personal life separated, with many boundaries, experienced higher levels of depletion and stress. Employees who had fewer boundaries between the two world’s experienced more frequent cognitive role transitions in a given day, but were not as depleted or stressed as the more rigid sample.The researchers provided valuable insight into the way people set up work-life boundaries. For employees, it is important to give yourself permission to let the worlds integrate which will make you productive and give you space to create a balance between the two lives that suits your lifestyle. Employers should be flexible with the policies put in place, to enable their employees to navigate the cognitive role transitions and lead to better productivity for the company.