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Healthy boundaries in the ‘always-on’ culture

Work-life balance is something that everyone is trying to achieve. There are times when we feel like we are winning and have achieved that balance. Then there are times when we feel chaotic, like we are running on a hamster wheel called life and can’t seem to stop without being thrown off.

Healthy boundaries are key to keeping the work-life balance in check and staying off the hamster wheel of death. They allow you to know where to draw the line and when to push yourself a little bit more. They allow others to know how you like to be treated and what to expect from you.

Boundaries allow others to understand the concept that “No” is a complete sentence. You can say “no” to them and not have to explain yourself. It might take some training, but it will eventually work and is well worth the effort.

Every company seems to promote the fact that they have a healthy work-life balance, but then they want you to be available via your cell phone, e-mail and text message 24/7. In this day and age, work-life balance seems to mean you can work more while you are at home with your family because of technology.

That’s the opposite of healthy boundaries and an unbalanced life. But how do you set healthy boundaries when it comes to work?

AccountingWEB wrote this great article that covered boundaries in the “always-on” culture. The article recommends starting off with setting priorities, knowing what is important to you and when it is important is key to the start of boundary setting.

Once that is established, the hard part comes: Sticking to it. Enforcing the boundaries to protect your priorities. You have to be willing to not only be clear but enforce when you are working and reachable and when you are not working. There will always be emergencies, but be aware of what is truly an emergency.

The other part of healthy boundary-keeping and not being part of the “always-on” culture is respecting the time of others. Ask others when they are available, or when their office hours are. Don’t just assume. A little appreciation for the boundaries of others will go a long way.

The article goes into how to protect your time. It’s a great, quick read. Be sure to check it out.

Setting boundaries is not something that is easy to do or that comes naturally to a lot of people. It is a skill that is freeing and allows a lot of the chaos and stress that is in our lives to go away, because it brings the power back to us. We are in control of our day and we are able to dictate where our energy goes all because of healthy boundaries that are set in the “always-on” culture.


Sarah Hanford