Forming Boundaries at Work: Your No List

If you feel like your to-do lists are never-ending, it may be time to assess boundaries at work with a no list. Unfortunately, as women, we often try to do it all and support everyone, but we aren’t Super Woman. Women are 32% more likely to experience burnout. Establishing boundaries at work can help you achieve a healthier work-life balance. Consider setting boundaries in the areas below:

No unpaid work

Unlike stretch opportunities, unpaid work does not expand your skills, demonstrate a team player mentality, or exemplary leadership. Unpaid work is any task that is not within your job description or working hours. That last-minute email asking to complete one more task on a Friday can wait till Monday. There is no reason you shouldn’t be paid for your time and effort.

No accepting tasks outside your job description

While it’s important to be a team player, it’s also essential to set boundaries that honor your time and energy. If a task is not in your job description, it’s okay to say no. Especially if a coworker recently left and your boss wants you to pick up their work. You are not responsible for everyone’s work. 

No response outside work hours

If you are constantly checking work emails and messages outside of your working hours, then you are not actually relaxing. One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to switch off notifications during your personal time. Everyone needs their time off to recharge so they can come back stronger.

No being talked over or interrupted

Women are often interrupted or talked over in meetings or conversations. Your opinions are important, so don’t be afraid to be heard. Especially support other women when they are being talked over. Nothing feels better than someone having your back and helping you advocate for yourself. 

No accepting unrealistic deadlines

If you know the deadline is unrealistic or thought it was originally but realized it’s not, don’t be afraid to speak up. Negotiate deadlines to a more achievable date and don’t put all the pressure on yourself to complete them. Ask for assistance from coworkers if you need help. 

No discriminatory language

Women should be equally respected as men in leadership positions, but often they are labeled as bossy or emotional. Gendered language and nicknames like dear or sweetheart devalue you and diminish your skills. Don’t let others dim your light. 

No to being held to higher standards

Often it may feel like you’re working twice as hard as your male coworkers in the same position to close that pay gap. But, you should not be held to higher standards than your male counterparts. Women need to be evaluated based on their performance, not their gender. If your work environment does not agree, then it’s time to make some changes.

No unclear communication

Sending emails back and forth to figure out a request or find out one piece of missing information can be frustrating. Just as you would like to receive clear communication, be equally as honest and open in yours. If your boundaries are clearly stated, there is less room for others to disrespect and cross over them.

Remember, saying no is a powerful tool for setting boundaries and advocating for yourself. Women should feel able to speak up for themselves in the workplace, if they can’t it is not an inclusive environment. Find supportive women around the world empowering others at the International Association of Women!

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