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Don't lose cash to burnout by setting boundaries at work

In a world of remote working, the blurred physical boundaries between personal and professional life make it difficult to avoid stress and burnout. With 54 percent of employees in a survey by the Pew Research Center wanting to work from home even after the coronavirus pandemic, learning how to build a healthy and balanced life is important. Whether you work in the office, remotely, or a mix of both, setting boundaries at work ensures that making a living doesn't negatively affect your life.

In addition to having a negative impact on your health, burnout can even affect your career and income. Burnout employees leave their current employer almost three times as often. This could affect your career and place you in a precarious financial position. Switch to the infographic to learn how to prevent burnout with healthy work boundaries and for tips on overcoming obstacles that might get in the way.

What is burnout?

While not an official illness, burnout is a specific type of work stress characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion, as well as a feeling of lost personal identity and decreased performance. Burnout is caused by prolonged stress and many work-related factors such as heavy workload, lack of team support and unrealistic work expectations contribute to this work stress.
Signs of burnout
Those who suffer from burnout do not always believe that their symptoms are caused by their work. Recognizing the symptoms is important so that you know when to get help and take action. Familiarize yourself with the following signs of burnout:

Emotional exhaustion
Physical fatigue
Difficulty concentrating
Decreased work performance
Job dissatisfaction or disillusionment

Consequences of burnout

Burnout is not only harmful to your health, it can even affect your finances. Here are a few ways burnout can negatively impact your life and budget:

Susceptibility to disease and increased risk of chronic disease
Further sick days can lead to loss of income
Reduced work performance can result in a lost bonus or a promotion
Increased spending on amenities like grocery delivery

This is how you set healthy boundaries at work

Avoid the negative effects of burnout and use these tips to help create healthy work boundaries.

1. Identify your priorities

While earning an income is necessary to meet basic needs like food and shelter, it is not the only priority in life. In addition to work, list your top priorities to help you figure out how to use your time and energy. Perhaps you'd rather spend time with your hobbies or with loved ones. So keep this in mind when planning your work week.

This also includes your priorities at work. Whether you're trying to earn a promotion or keeping your workload by the end of the week, prioritize the tasks that will help you get there and be careful not to overwhelm yourself.

2. Learn to say no

Once you have your priorities set, it is important to be able to say no at work. For example, if you want to take a break from work during your lunch break, politely decline any meeting invitations that you have scheduled for that time. Another scenario where it's okay to say no is that you are offered additional work. Think if the work will help you achieve your goals directly. If they don't, decline them. Saying no is a powerful skill that will help you push your boundaries and make your goals a priority.

3. Take time off

Free time is a way of setting boundaries at work by giving yourself the opportunity to take a break from your responsibilities. Planning some free time, however, can be a challenge. Whether finding time on your work schedule or running your own business is difficult, realizing that you earned it just like your income is important.

Get ahead of your busy schedule and plan vacation or mental health days early. Planning ensures that you actually take time off. Once it's over, you can focus on resting and re-energizing when you come back.

4. Look for examples of professional boundaries

Setting boundaries at work can be easier said than done. Reach out to a manager, supervisor, coworker, or mentor you trust and ask them how they maintain boundaries at work. This gives you the opportunity to communicate your own boundaries with your colleagues and can even inspire you to create them. All boundaries are different. So get inspiration from those whose boundaries match yours.

5. Communicate clearly

Communication is key when it comes to boundaries at work. Personal limits at work vary depending on the person. Hence, if you want people to respect you, it is important that you be front and center. Try these different ways to clearly communicate your limits to others:

Let your team know that you will be signing out at a specific time each day.
If you are out of the office or signed out for that day, indicate that you will not answer emails or calls unless there is an emergency.
Define what is an appropriate emergency for your team.
Include a note in your email signature stating that you will only reply to emails at certain times.

Lack of team support communication-clear

6. Set boundaries with employees

When it comes to talking to water coolers or happy hour over Zoom, your personal life may be treated in a professional setting. It's up to you to decide how much personal information you want to share with colleagues. Don't be afraid to set professional boundaries after settling on a level of comfort.

Let others know that you prefer to stick to conversations on professional topics, or if you are open to sharing, be aware that others may not suit your communication style. Here are some examples of what not to share at work.

Inappropriate issues in the workplace:

Financial problems

7. Silence notifications

Another way to set boundaries at work is not to get meddled in your personal time. Silent notifications at the end of the day so emails and messages don't disrupt your dinner or family time. You can also keep notifications away from you by removing work apps like Slack or Teams from your personal devices. While they can be helpful while you work, sometimes it's not worth getting notifications from coworkers who are constantly blowing up your phone or laptop.

8. Create built-in breaks

When setting working limits, it is helpful to have a system in place to help you meet them. Build your lunch break into your digital calendar every day of the week to reserve this time. Once locked, coworkers will be notified that you are unavailable when they try to set up a meeting. This will also remind you to take your meal break at an appropriate time and not get carried away with work.

9. Triage your duties

Even if you have a system in place for breaks on busy days, it may not be enough to handle a heavy workload. Learn how to prioritize your work items to meet your schedule and limits. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. Urgent and important tasks should be completed now, while other tasks that do not fall into this category can be delegated, saved for later or disposed of.

eisenhower matrix task organization

10. Don't skip breaks

If you ever feel bad about taking breaks from work, you are not alone. The researchers found that feelings of guilt and fear were an obstacle to taking breaks from work. However, it is important to overcome these feelings and not to skip the breaks.

Breaks give you time to recover from work-related stress, and this recovery process will help you increase your performance and energy. If you're someone who regularly forgets your breaks, set reminders on your digital calendar to notify you when it's time to take your work off and go for a walk or have a snack.

11. Shutdown technology

One of the most important working boundaries is the one that signals the end of the day. For remote workers, that line often blurs as work and technology are constantly present. Remote workers found that their average work day can be extended by nearly 49 minutes. Therefore, it is necessary to set a tough deadline for the end of work and the blackout in order to ensure work-life balance. Pick a time to finish work and stick to it every day. Make sure all technologies are turned off for the night and you are not tempted to just send an email.

12. Stick to your routine

Routines are important because they are our standard behavior. If you make a habit of starting and finishing work and taking your breaks at the same time each day, you are more likely to take them. Also, try to incorporate a transition activity into your routine before and after work. This activity can be a 15-minute diary session before work to wake up your mind and a 30-minute workout after work to relieve stress in your body. Having a transition routine that lets you get in and out of work mode can help create mental boundaries, even if you don't have physical ones.

13. Try to separate your work area

This may not be possible for all work from home. However, try to create some sort of separation between your remote workspace and your personal space. If you have enough space, move your WFH setup to another room and close the door behind you at the end of the day.

If you have less space and a tight budget, close your room with a curtain or use a movable partition to block the view. Introducing a physical boundary allows you to separate yourself from a stressful environment even if you cannot afford to have a fancy office.

14. Turn off your camera

Another way to set a remote work limit is to turn off the camera during virtual calls or meetings. Many people have to work in rooms where they sleep and eat. If you'd rather keep this window into your life private, keep the camera off. Your employees are not entitled to look into your home and space. So you can only opt for audio or a virtual background that isn't too distracting.

Dealing with exceeded limits

Even with the right tips to help you create and communicate your boundaries, there will be times when someone crosses them. Below are some possible cross-border scenarios and ways to politely and professionally push back. Your ability to effectively communicate your limits may even be a skill that leads you to negotiate an increase.

tight deadlines-realistic-expectations

When you need to set realistic expectations:

"Given the short turnaround time for this project, I can achieve Goals X and Y. Unfortunately, there isn't enough time to complete Goal Z with the quality it deserves."
“This project should take X hours, but on average it takes Y hours. It would be helpful to expand the scope of this project to ensure that it is completed to the best of our ability. "

If asked to do additional work:

"Unfortunately, I don't currently have the bandwidth to give this project the attention it needs."
"I'll be happy to help if Project X can be prioritized so I can focus."

Meeting scheduled during a break:

"Hello (name), I just saw your meeting invitation and wanted to see if there was any chance we could push it back. I usually take a lunch break during this time, and this break helps me get energized and focused for our meetings to feel. "

Free stress management resources

Dealing with exceeded limits can be stressful, especially on top of the stress of your workload. These resources are free and can help reduce your stress levels before you are burned out.

Headspace: Use the free meditations to relieve stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness Awareness Podcast: Sign up to take part in this free mindfulness podcast made available to you by the University of California, Los Angeles and the Hammer Museum.
Jellyfish meditation: The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers 11-minute meditation while watching jellyfish. Learning to be mindful (really – they don't have a brain) with mindless jellies might just be the trick to reducing stress!
Support groups: Join a support group through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for free peer-to-peer stress management in English or Spanish.
Employee assistance program (EAP): Check if your employer sponsors an EAP to help employees manage their personal and professional lives.

Burnout at work can have a number of negative effects on your physical, mental, and financial health. Try to set boundaries at work in order to maintain your own well-being. Much like the Mint app makes managing your money easier, work boundaries help manage stress and allow you to rest so that you can continue to achieve your goals. Put these tips into practice to help maintain an upward career and higher earning potential for years to come.


Sources: FlexJobs | Gallup | LinkedIn | National Bureau of Economic Research | Pew Research Center |

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