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setting boundaries with your office


Set Boundaries With the Office

Keep your office hours and your personal time separate with these expert tips.

Photo: Thinkstock / The Nest

Constantly checking work email after hours? Unable to sit through a movie or enjoy a meal without checking in with the boss? You probably aren’t being paid to work around the clock and your social life (and attention span) might be suffering. Learn how to set boundaries with your work life without sacrificing your job performance from Cat Seto, designer, illustrator, and co-author of Mom, Inc.

Work when you are meant to be working.
Try a little experiment: For one day at the office, just work. Don’t Facebook, tweet, read blogs or peruse Pinterest during the workday. You got a ton of quality work done, right? “When I get down to writing, designing, illustrating or production, I simply cannot afford to be distracted by my personal social media universe,” Seto explains. “It compromises the quality and accuracy of my work and the efficiency with which I can get it done.”

Give yourself nights and weekends off.
“The precious time we spend alone, with our children, and with our partners -- these are the parts of our lives that are truly rewarding and deserving of uninterrupted time,” Seto says. Turn off work email when you leave the office for the day and weekend and let any nonemergency calls go to voice mail. The more available you make yourself, the more people will expect it of you -- and you (and your family) deserve a break!

Enforce the boundaries you set.
Working late a few nights in a row to meet a deadline is understandable, but letting your clocking-out time slip later and later every night of the week is not. Seto suggests being up-front with your boss and colleagues about expectations, especially in regard to deadlines, and being transparent with your personal schedule. If you need to leave at 5 to pick up your child from day care or make it home in time to take the dog out, tell your boss. He or she will likely relate.

Don’t try to be a superhero.
“One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to say ‘no’,” Seto says. “I am often confronted with the temptation to do the one more thing that will make me a better designer, more competitive business owner, better mother. But I have learned when I attempt to take it all on, my work and personal life start to blend together into a landscape that is ultimately unattractive to me.” Which means, boundaries can help keep you sane. Plus, nonstop working can lead to burn out, which is never a pretty sight.

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