[#write31days] Day 24 Boundaries at Work

Welcome to Day 24 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

We leave the house early in the morning to go to work, or we switch on the computer and work from home. We come home late at night, only to find a family waiting for some of our company or more emails requiring our immediate response. We work, we run, we press on – often more than we can handle. How do set the right boundaries to make more time for the really important people and things in life? How do we handle the seemingly overwhelming piles of work in front of us?

17cWork is NOT your Life
Choosing a job is not easy, especially young people struggle with having just too many choices. Choices and freedom are great, but with them a certain idea has been implanted in us: We are what we do.
Your work defines your value, so you better work until you’re at the top of the list.
Your performance defines who you are, so you try to outrun everyone else and make yourself indispensable. The one a company can’t do without, the name on everyone’s lips – isn’t that a great place to be?

Well, we are not what we do.
Our value has been defined  long before we ever picked up a shovel or learned how to type. I don’t need to find the perfect job which will fulfill me 100%. This is simply impossible, there’s no human being or job that will keep you happy 24-7 for the rest of your life.
Yes, find a job that makes you happy most of the time. A work you’re good at and can contribute something to. But don’t let the certificates, the work hours, or the appraisal of colleagues deceive you that this is who you are.
You are not your job.

Resting in yourself will give you the freedom from switching off the computer once in a while, locking the office door, and just leave.
It will keep your mind at ease at night when you can stop worrying about all the things not done yet, all the things gone wrong during the day. These things happen, but they change NOTHING about who you are.

There’s a life beyond work, there are people apart from our colleagues who want to spend time with us. Make sure that you enough time for them and for life itself. Life can look different for all of us, discover what restores life in you: a breakfast with your family, a few hours in the gym, a cup of coffee with a friend, reading a book just for fun, taking a vacation…live life!

Create Space
I recently read an article about the different spaces in our lives. Most people have a ‘home space’ and a ‘work space’ (except those who work from home). You work in the latter and live in the former. According to the article, this was no longer appropriate for our postmodern society. Eight to five is so yesterday; employees of today would work wherever as long as you got a notebook and wifi.

I am not sure I fully agree.
Yes, I am glad that we’re not bound to one specific space and time for work. I actually enjoy the flexibility I have with working and taking breaks.

Yet, I feel that the two spaces often overlap quite a bit, maybe even take over. Work doesn’t just stay at school or in the office; it follows me home, dominates conversations at the dinner table and has main roles in my dreams at night.

17bIf we realize that the ‘work space’ takes over and controls the ‘home space’ it’s time to set boundaries. ‘Work space’ is once again a place for work. Where I give my best at assignments, focus on tasks and interact with colleagues. Work. Only.

At a certain time I stop, switch off the computer, lock the door.

Go home.

‘Home space’ is a place for life. Where I relax, sleep, do hobbies and interact with friends and family. Life. Only.

Since these two spaces tend to overlap more and more, it is even more important for us to set boundaries. Welcome and appreciate both spaces for what they are – and create space for growth, productivity, creativity, joy. Not doing that will only limit our space and ultimately life’s quality.

Prioritize Well
Defining spaces and using them well can be quite tough in daily life. Work just piles up, colleagues are on our toes about deadlines, and we don’t know where to start.

Germans are often called organized, and since I am German I actually learned to appreciate this stereotype. I love lists. Writing tasks down and doing them one by one doesn’t only make you feel good, it also helps you to prioritize.

photo-1429051781835-9f2c0a9df6e4At first there’s only a giant pile of work, calls, demands, questions. It can easily become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. So I write them all down and organize them according to topic and urgency.
Yes, the work is still there, but not everything is equally important. Writing things down somehow tames the unknown, the seemingly impossible is nothing more than letters on a piece of paper. Jobs and assignment, but nothing life changing that has the right to bother me during the night or disturb precious time with family and friends. Prioritizing highlights the really important things and makes the minor issues shut up.

How does your week look like? Do you separate work and life or the two spaces overlap? Are you a planner or do you feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do?

Make a list with everything you have to do today or this week and prioritize, so you’ll have more time for what’s really important.

Author: Katha von Dessien

Teacher. Believer in the Wilderness. Third Culture Kid. World Traveler. People and Food at the Table Lover. Writer.

3 thoughts on “[#write31days] Day 24 Boundaries at Work”

  1. Thank you so much! I am so glad I found your blog….working on boundaries between work and home is exactly where I am right now. I, too, am a list maker…it really helps me. Thank you so much….thoughts of work stuff are trying to invade my quiet Saturday morning time. So, happy I read this! Have a great weekend!

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