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Can anyone remember the days when work fit neatly into the 9-5 workday? When there wasn’t a tether to the office through constant digital connection? While technology has led to many amazing opportunities for most of us, there is a downside that could be handled better: boundaries!
It can be difficult to set and enforce boundaries, and I’m certainly not here to tell you what yours should be with your in-laws or your nosy neighbors. But boundaries in our professional lives can be the single best tool to help bust out of service fatigue, whether you need to put some in place with your boss and customers or you’re looking for ways to make sure your team knows that work/life boundaries are a good thing.
In order to give you an idea of what your boundaries are like right now and where you have room to adjust them for the better, I have a few tough but important questions to take us through. There are no right or wrong answers, just moments for self-reflection and growth.
Question #1 (for leaders and managers): Have you created a work environment that allows team members to fully “sign out” at the end of their shift? If you believe you have, are they clearly communicated and embraced by the team?
You might think you’ve communicated clear boundaries and cultivated a culture of work/life balance, but if your team thinks there’s an unspoken expectation to always be “on,” you’ve got a boundaries problem.
Question #2 (for team members): How much of your “out of bounds” behavior—being available after your shift, taking on extra work outside your job description—are self-inflicted choices?
I believe we all can and should go above and beyond in delivering customer service excellence, both internally and externally. But when you’re doing far more than is required and expected, you may be bringing your service fatigue on yourself, making things worse than they need to be. Be honest: are you guilty of your own boundary breakdowns? I bet there are honest conversations you can have with yourself and your leadership to get those boundaries—and your energy levels—back on track.
Question #3 (for the solo-preneurs): Is there an official “Open for Business” and “Closed for Business” ritual in your work life? What would change if you adopted this behavior right away?
This one is personal for me, because I run my own business. In the early days, I found myself working all hours until my husband finally asked me to “close up shop” by 6pm every evening so I could focus on our family and get a much-needed break. My challenge to you is to really evaluate your work hours and decide what boundaries are best for your work and life.
There’s one more question I want to ask, but you’ll have to join me at our next live virtual event to hear it and learn my simple formula for setting the most essential of all boundaries: saying no. I’ll also share the one thing you can do (yes, there’s homework) to re-evaluate your boundaries, find where you can firm them up and see for yourself just what a difference they make in giving you back your energy and positive attitude.
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