How to Establish Effective Boundaries for Better Work-Life Balance

By Chelsea Babin

Great benefits like flextime, unlimited PTO, and telecommuting can create a better work-life balance but, if you like your current job and they don’t happen to offer these benefits, you can still improve your work-life balance. The secret lies in the boundaries you set! Don’t believe me? Here are a few tips for establishing effective boundaries for better work-life balance. You’ll want to try these ASAP!

1. Daily Priorities List: If you’re preparing for the final push on a large project you’re going to work more hours. If you want to attend your friend’s 30th birthday party you’re going to want to leave work at a certain time and get no work calls that evening. A part of establishing your own work-life balance is looking at what your daily priorities and obligations are and making sure your schedule can fit in those fun, important personal things while balancing that out with a little extra work if necessary other days of the week.

2. Communicate Your Boundaries With Everyone: It may not be easy but you need to tell your colleagues and bosses that you’re busy with an event and need to leave at a certain time and stay out of reach. Similarly, it may not be easy but if you’re up for a promotion soon you may need to explain to your family or significant other that you’ll be working a few late nights. The important thing to remember about establishing work-life balance is you shouldn’t apologize for making one thing a priority over another but you need to be prepared to explain what you’re doing, why, and deal with the consequences if you consistently prioritize work over life or life over work.

3. The List of Exceptions: Maybe you feel like you’re never able to fully disconnect from work. Is it because you can’t establish the right list of priorities or because your job is truly that hectic and busy for the foreseeable future? Even if your answer is the latter, you can still make time for a few life priorities if you ask your coworkers and bosses not to contact you except in certain circumstances. If a high priority customer needs your attention while you’re gone or a project is failing and will set you back for a week if you don’t fix it now, put those things on your list of exceptions. Otherwise, take the night off and get some much-needed bonding, rest, and relaxation time!

4. Regularly Redefine and Fail: Defining your boundaries is a learning process and no two weeks will look the same for a lot of people. That’s okay! You need to embrace that, in the process of learning how to set effective boundaries, you need to make time to regularly redefine those boundaries and accept that sometimes you’ll fail. This failure will help you draw better, clearer lines in the future and, like all goals, the path to improved work-life balance will take some time but will be well worth it in the end.

Having a great work-life balance can be dependent on the company you work for and the benefits they offer or you can establish your own effective work-life balance boundaries. Use these aforementioned tips to create your ideal work-life balance and keep practicing, it takes time to feel truly balanced with both work and life.