Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: {Boundaries at Work- Part 1}

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! If you're interested in other posts in this series, check out my Wellness page here. Right now I'm discussing Life Task 3 from the Wheel of Wellness, which is work and leisure. Past posts on the "work" component of wellness include:

Today I'm going to expand a bit more on the idea of work overload, and what to do if you find yourself working too much overtime, to the point of exhaustion (or the other signs & symptoms I posted above). 

Cloud & Townsend, in their book Boundaries, have a few thoughts on work overload. They state the following: "If you are in a situation in which you're doing lots of extra work because you "need the job" and because you are afraid of being let go, you have a problem. If you are working more overtime than you want to, you are in bondage to your job. You are a slave, not am employee under contract" (Boundaries, p. 198). 

Employers can take advantage very easily of people who choose to not say "NO" when asked about increasing job opportunities. If they know someone won't say no when they ask someone to stay late, don't you think that the employer is going to take advantage of that? If you are constantly working overtime, what do you think that does to your health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and your relationships? It's not so great. 

Here are some tips they offer for dealing with this issue (quoted directly from book, p. 198):
1. Set boundaries on your work. Decide how much overtime you are willing to do. Some overtime during seasonal crunches may be expected of you. 
2. Review your job description, if one exists. 
3. Make a list of the tasks you need to complete in the next month. Make a copy of the list and assign your own priority to each item. Indicate on this copy any tasks that are not part of your job description. 
4. Make an appointment to see your boss to discuss your job overload. Together you should review the list of tasks you need to completely in the next month. Have your boss prioritize the tasks... You may also wish to review your job description with your boss at this time if you think you are doing things that fall outside your domain. 

A few of my own thoughts- I like the list above, and think many people would benefit from following these steps. ALWAYS get a job description. This will give you ground to stand on and help you determine what is and is not reasonable for your job responsibilities. If you don't have a description, how will you know what your expectations are? 

Now it's your turn!
Are there some boundaries you need to set in the workplace when it comes to working overtime or doing too many things that fall outside your job description? How do you try to maintain health while you're at work?


  1. Ok seriously, I always had a line in my job descriptions stating that I have to do pretty much what my boss ask... it sucks!

    Great post!

  2. This was me in 2009. I did the whole overload thing to the point of burnout, which took me 4 months to recover from. The thing I found though was ... I was my own worst enemy, I drove myself on, always striving to do more, be better, it mattered to me. I paid the price.

    I still don't have the answers, but I know what the consequences are now.

  3. These are really practical tips. Thanks :-)

    I would like to read a post on booundaries at work regarding relationships. My boss blurrys the boundaries between supervisor and friendship. Pulling whichever card suits her. It does not create the most stale enviornment.

  4. I work at home so this doesn't affect me but it does affect my partner. We live in Georgia and mostly it is not a pleasant place to work. They do take advantage on a regular basis, push you to your limits while letting you know that you can be fired if you don't put up with whatever they demand. This state is more for the employer than it is for the employee. The EEOC will even tell you that.