It’s summertime. Life is good. Longer days, the weather is great, and things at work are feeling pretty steady with co-workers and clients on vacation, including yourself.
And while we’re soaking up the pleasures of the summer, I can’t help but think of September, which I love, BTW. Fall newness always excites me—the change in weather, the fashion and the routine of getting back into more structure.
There have been many changes over the last few years, and one of the lasting changes has been working remotely.
And while you may feel like an expert at this point, when it comes to setting boundaries between work and home after taking a vacation or slowing down for the summer, it may be more challenging than usual.
To support you in feeling a little more grounded going into the Fall, here are 3 ways to set boundaries between work and home life.
Set expectations and ask for what you need.
Easier said than done, I know. You don’t want to disappoint, and you must let your people know what they can expect from you; that includes your boss, clients, friends and family.
Part of setting clear expectations for others is first understanding WHAT your expectations are; this is an area I find most challenging because it requires me to sllllllooooooooow down.
What I’ve found helpful for me in the past is making time to ask myself the following questions:
- What time am I willing to take my first and last meeting for the day?
- How quickly will I respond to emails?
- When would I prefer a phone call vs. a text? Or neither?
- What are my non-negotiables during the day; examples: lunch and dinner with family, 8-9 school set up for the day, an evening meditation.
Once you’ve determined what your expectations are, create the space to share and answer any questions. Start by letting them know your WHY; sharing the why will support the buy-in from others. I promise this exercise and action will bring a lot of relief.
Practicing saying no.
You’ve set your expectations and shared them with the world. A week later, old habits start to creep in. You’re answering emails lying in bed, taking phone calls during lunch, and you’ve given up on your evening meditation practice. Sound familiar?
Now you’re at a crossroads, and you have a choice. You can allow others to dictate your schedule and when they have access to you, or you can stand for what’s best for you.
The great thing about your life is that you’re the CEO of YOU. With the choices you make and the boundaries you’ve set, you’ll teach others how to treat you. If you continue to accept the 8 am meeting, the 8 am meetings will continue to pop up.
This was one of my greatest lessons returning from mat leave. I learned it’s not enough to set my expectations. For them to be met, I need to be equally intentional with my yes, and no’s.
No one will stand for you and your balance as great as you can and need to be for yourself.
Make time for yourself.
In line with the topic of saying no, I bet you’ve heard of the saying, “put on your oxygen mask first.”
I love my family, friends, career, and the people I work with, and I know I could go days and weeks without stopping to ask myself, what do I need right now? When was the last time I was alone? Do my body and mind feel rested?
Creating space for ‘me time is said to reduce stress, support prioritization, stimulate your mind and improve relationships, to name a few.
Similarly to defining expectations, first understand the ‘right’ amount of alone time you need. A daily walk, an evening, an entire weekend?
Waking up early in the morning before my family is up is one of the ways I create time for this. I putt around, make a coffee and often read and write…in silence.
Consider thinking about your schedule. We’re awake for an average of 15 hours a day. How do you want to spend those hours?
Whether that’s 50% work, 40% family, 10% me time or 40% work, 40% family, 20% me time, schedule time for yourself and balance where you’re spending energy.
Me time is not self-indulgent. It’s a necessity.
And remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you take away one thing from this article, leave with this.
It’s up to you to adjust what’s not working by implementing boundaries.
Setting expectations, asking for what you need, practicing saying no and making time for yourself. We must do these things as parents, colleagues and partners to live a healthy and balanced life. Keep in mind when your life works, work works.
Want to get started taking some ‘me time’? Check out this resource I created to support you with some career reflection. Find a quiet spot and dive into these questions all about you. You can find the free reflection guide HERE.