Creating boundaries for work-life balance is a multi-step process. The first step is identifying burnout, the second understanding why (i.e., self-reflecting). This month, we’re onto the third step: identifying.
As we explored in March in A Balancing Act Worth the Wobbles, the need for distraction, belief that working more equates to living more, and feelings of boredom can all contribute to a work-life imbalance.
Last month in Boundaries for an Even Keel, we posed a few questions for you to first identify burnout:
- Do you feel reactive rather than proactive?
- Is your task list growing non-stop?
- Do you consistently put others before yourself?
- Do you often want to cancel on commitments?
- Are you lost without your phone or email?
How did you answer? Were you shaking your head yes or feeling overwhelmed just thinking about the questions? If you did answer yes to even just one of these, it can be an indication that your work-life balance is off, and it’s time to create some boundaries. This month, we’ll look at the next step in boundary setting based on Simply Hudson’s BUILD acronym.
How to Create Boundaries for Work-Life Balance
Now, let’s dig in to BUILDing boundaries for work-life balance. Our BUILD acronym lays out most of what we’ve discussed in the past two months as well as new knowledge for setting boundaries.
Understand when a line has been crossed and something is bothering you, causing feelings of burnout, imbalance or overreaction. Are there any patterns in your behavior?
Analyze what caused the burnout to understand the underlying trigger. Are you overreacting to small things because you feel your time is not respected? Are you working on things that do not align with your values?
Once you understand the underlying trigger, identify what boundary is missing and whether it needs to be hard or soft. Are you consistently burnt out because your weekends aren’t your own, with work frequently taking over?
Make use of your communication channels and relationships to implement your boundaries. People can’t know they are pushing a boundary if they don’t know what it is. Communicate in ways others will accept and understand by anticipating reactions and not being accusatory.
We may not get it right on the first try. Take the time to debrief and determine how your boundaries are working. Understand any obstacles preventing you from maintaining those boundaries and refine them as needed to continue the cycle.
Hard vs. Soft Boundaries
- Are they negotiable?
- Are they long term?
- How willing are you to change or adapt?
Boundaries are a delineation from one thing to another, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be permeable or malleable. You can have different boundaries for different situations. For instance, one of our clients was dealing with a transfer between departments. We determined hard boundaries were needed with the prior team so that she could take on her new role, but that a soft boundary was ok when small questions came up. You’ll go through trial and error to learn the difference of when you should apply hard and soft boundaries. Our chart above can help guide you to the right boundary for the time and situation.
More to Come on Work-Life Balance
Remember: building boundaries takes time, effort, and trial and error to get it right. Let Simply Hudson’s BUILD process guide your way. We’re not quite done sharing on work-life balance. Stay tuned for more.
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