How To Set Boundaries That Will Help You Be At Your Best

5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Other People’s Demands

We’re constantly dealing with demands in our personal and professional lives from the moment we wake up each day.

We have home demands such as dealing with family needs and getting prepared for work. We also have work demands, which include dealing with customers, team members and colleagues.

If we don’t protect ourselves or set proper boundaries, we can:

  • Easily feel overwhelmed.
  • Be pulled in many directions which may affect how we work.
  • Take longer to complete things.
  • Become emotionally drained.
  • Perform below what we’re capable of.

What Does Setting Boundaries Mean?

  • Saying “no” and knowing how to say it in the right context.
  • Knowing when it’s time to work and when it’s not.
  • Being clear about our priorities.
  • Being able to communicate clearly to others and set the right expectations.

Learning to set healthy boundaries can save us time and help us be at our best more consistently.

Ways to set proper boundaries

I remember working with a colleague who used to get annoyed if she was interrupted while doing important tasks. From her team member’s perspective, we didn’t find her very approachable. From her perspective, she set boundaries while she was working so that she could be more effective, and was comfortable letting her team members know.

As a team member, I knew when it was appropriate to communicate with her and respected the way she preferred to work.

5 Ways to Set Proper Boundaries

  1. Know your roles and responsibilities. Sometimes we want to please others and take on more than we can handle. Doing this will affect our mental, emotional and physical well-being. The clearer we are about we’re capable without putting ourselves at risk, the easier it will be define our boundaries.
  2. Listen to your inner voice. Most times, we will know when something is not right for us. This is where knowing what our boundaries are and what it means to have our boundaries crossed is important. We have to become more aware of who or what tends to cause us to feel that a boundary has been crossed.
  3. Practice explicit communication. There will be times when we need to be more direct in our communication. We have to let others know what our current priorities are, or why we need space to do what needs to be done. The clearer our communication, the better others will know what’s important to us.
  4. Evaluate yourself daily. We get better at anything through regular practice and constant evaluation. There will be times when we won’t do as well as we’d hoped to, so being able to reflect and ask ourselves how we could have done better will help us improve.
  5. Ask for support. Instead of trying to do this on our own, it’s beneficial to seek the support of others. This ties in with communicating more clearly. We can get support from a colleague, family member, mentor, friends or support groups. The real intent is to gain the confidence to be able to set boundaries when we want and with whom we want.

Setting boundaries does not mean we are being inconsiderate or unhelpful. It’s about ensuring we’re at our best so that we can perform or serve others the best we can. If we don’t set boundaries, we’ll struggle to cope with our daily demands, which will eventually lead to a negative consequence.

Action Step: Choose one area of your life, either personal or professional, that you know you need to set new boundaries. Using the suggestions above, identify a new boundary that you can set or implement in the next week. Then continue adding new boundaries as you see fit.

Question: What is another way to set proper boundaries so that we can be at our best consistently?

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