It’s probably been a long time since you’ve taken a vacation, and if you’re like most crazy busy women, it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’re stressed, constantly checking your phone or laptop for work emails coming in, even when you’re not working. A vacation might be the last thing you even want to do.
Well, take that vacation!
But before we get to packing our bags for some much-deserved rest and relaxation, let’s talk about boundaries. Boundaries are what keep us sane at work and happy during our off time.
They can be hard to establish because we often feel guilty if we say no to requests from coworkers or bosses who are used to having us around all day every day. And with so many of us working from home lately, there is way too much gray area between work and home life.
I’m going to show you a step-by-step process for how you can take your vacation and set work boundaries, too!
Take a Boundary Audit
What is a boundary audit? It’s an easy way to think about your work-life balance and what boundaries you need to set. Take into account your work schedule, relationships, and the type of communication your workplace fosters. What is working well (and not so much) in your personal and professional life? What are you most worried about infiltrating your vacation time?
Make a list of the good and the bad, and then list how you can set clear boundaries around the things on your list that you know will negatively affect your time off. Your company policy might affect some of these workplace boundaries that you want to set, but when you have realistic expectations in regard to what could happen, you’ll be better equipped to mitigate them in the middle of your personal time.
Also be sure to communicate these potential intrusions with those you’re going to be taking time off with. That can help to avoid uncomfortable situations when you have to step away to handle an emergent situation. When they understand those potential interruptions to time off, they’ll be less likely to react negatively when and if they happen.
Avoid Company-Issued Devices
Every company is different, but even if your employer doesn’t require you to check email while on vacation, many do. And therein lies the problem: it’s easy for boundaries to be blurred when we’re checking our work emails from a beach in Bali or sitting by the pool at home.
And I know many of us crazy busy women answer emails off hours even though we don’t have to! It’s a great avoidance behavior. Part of building boundaries is holding ourselves accountable. We need to set healthy boundaries at work not because our coworkers violate them, but because we violate them.
So avoid taking company-issued devices with you, and eliminate the temptation from the start. Leave the phone, laptop, and tablet at home (so long as it doesn’t violate policy) and create that personal space. Remove all apps on your phone that are connected to work. The quiet is going to be very uncomfortable at first, but I promise you that you will start to enjoy it.
Set Boundaries at Work
It is absolutely okay to set boundaries at work. It is! Too many of us feel that we gain respect from our team and clients when we are available after office hours, take calls on our lunch breaks, or answer emails during our sick days.
This doesn’t gain you more respect. And in fact, you’re only going to teach people to intrude on your personal time, and then feel resentful when they start taking advantage of your time outside of work hours. Your job stress will build and build and build, and instead of being the team player you think you’re being, you’re harming your physical and mental health.
When you know that you’re going to take a vacation, have a conversation with your team and clients to let them know that you will be unavailable so that you can fully rest and enjoy this personal and family time. Setting these professional boundaries can feel to you as if you’re letting down your employees or that you don’t care about your career. These assumptions are false!
When you nurture your well-being, you’re able to better focus on your career and success in the long run, and achieve a healthy work-life balance rather than feel burned out and exhausted all the time.
Set an Out of Office Reminder
Setting an OOO reminder might seem like a no-brainer, but they are such an important tool in setting healthy boundaries in your career. Work with your management and employees to determine who will cover for you while you’re away, and be sure to share this information in the message. This is putting an “easy button” in their hands to have someone they trust to contact if there are any issues while you’re away.
This will also help to keep the lines of communication open, and allow your team to be the rock stars they are. And I hope that your example will lead those around you to work toward a balanced work expectation and start to set their own boundaries.
It’s important to remember that setting boundaries doesn’t just apply when we’re on a break–we need them in place at work as well so we don’t feel overworked and tired all the time! If your job description doesn’t require you to be available when you’re outside of work hours on PTO, there is no reason for you to create these self-imposed stressors.
What Are Emotional Boundaries?
Emotional boundaries are an important part of creating a healthy work-life balance. It’s not going to be easy at first, but you’re the only one who can take care of your own needs and wean yourself off the need for external validation that comes from a fulfilling career or family life.
Setting emotional boundaries means saying no when it is appropriate and doesn’t jeopardize your integrity, such as being honest about your availability while you’re out of the office. You don’t want to set the expectation that just because you’re not busy outside of the office that you’ll be available at a moment’s notice for something pressing at work. This will only lead to a pile-up of work stress and overwhelm, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Setting emotional boundaries means being honest with your team when they are overstepping their bounds in regards to email or phone interruptions while you are on vacation. There’s no reason for them calling you at 11 pm because it might be important!
You deserve time off outside of work hours that isn’t monitored by any person other than yourself–that includes both professional obligations as well as personal ones so make sure your expectations match this reality.
Remember That Your Personal Life is Sacred
When boundaries are blurry, it’s very easy to neglect your personal life in a way that can be detrimental. Setting boundaries at work is an important step to take when you want to have the best of both worlds–a successful and fulfilling career on one hand, and rich relationships with friends and family on the other.
We all need time away from our jobs for rest and recuperation; setting these boundaries will ensure we’re able to do this well without feeling guilty or resentful for taking time off! We also need healthy relationships outside of work so we don’t feel like everything revolves around our careers 24/7-365.
You will find that when you nurture your personal time and treat it as if it’s just as important as your working hours, you’ll have a richer, fuller life. Boundary setting is beneficial to working effectively, to work relationships, and to your own success in your career. And it’s also beneficial to your health, happiness, and relationships outside of work.
Creating boundaries is the first step to having a balanced work-life, but it’s also important to remember what your own personal needs are. If you have clear emotional boundaries and make sure that they both match up with expectations at work as well as outside of work hours, then setting these in place will be an empowering experience for you!
The benefits of boundary setting cannot be overstated–not only do we get relief from feeling too overwhelmed or overworked at our jobs all the time, but when we nurture ourselves by taking care of our responsibilities and honoring our commitments out of the office on PTO days, this has positive effects on maintaining relationships and releases the pressure off us so we don’t feel like we’re always “on.”
Building boundaries takes time, but when you commit to it, it absolutely can be done!
Having a hard time with boundaries? You’re going to want to check out my 10-week program where I’ll show you how to rock your boundaries and stand in your power everywhere you go.