Healthy Boundaries: Keeping Work at Work

In the 21st century, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate between work space and life space. How can we keep work from intruding on our personal time if we fear it puts our job at risk for someone who won’t have boundaries? What is increasingly clear is a life without boundaries to distinguish the two may be too draining to tolerate. If we never get a break to rest and relax, how can our work possibly be the caliber we’d like it to be?

A recent article in the Boston Globe illustrates how Sunday night is the new Monday morning – in order to stay on top of the ball and get all of our work done, people are sacrificing part of their weekend. People are losing a major swath of their recuperation landscape to the work they are hoping to recover from. Granted, many people experience Sunday nights as lonely and depressing, so getting task-oriented can feel empowering and safer. At the same time, as the article spells out, what will become of our weekends if they are merely catch-up and preparation for our jobs?

I invite you to consider the demands of your work, the time you get paid to do it in, and consider that the time outside of work, to the greatest extent possible, can be boundaried and guarded. That ‘down’ time to focus on your other commitments, hobbies, obligations and desires (like hobbies, exercise, and play time) is essential to your self-care so you can get back to work and perform at the level you expect of yourself. Sleep is essential down time because it allows our brains to take stock, to consolidate and process tons of information and experiences. Once rested, we can get back to our waking life prepared to live it well. Down time from work can be seen in the same light – it allows us to get distance, movement, a shift in focus, so we can return to work recuperated, ready to get back on the work train and excel.