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Why Setting Boundaries at Work will Transform your Career and Bring Out Your Creativity and Innovation

In today’s article, we’ll explore why you should set boundaries at work in 2024 and how this can have a positive effect on your workplace and career. Setting boundaries at work will transform your career and bring our your creativity and innovation. We also explore a few other reasons why setting boundaries at work is a good idea. So why not start this year?

woman writing her boundaries at work
Writing Down Your Boundaries

Setting Boundaries at Work Enhances Work-Life Balance

Setting boundaries at work helps you to reduce the possibility of burnout and allows you to have time for life outside of work. We’ve all been there before, working very hard and letting your work overtake your life completely, with barely time for family, friends or hobbies, however this isn’t sustainable and can lead to burnout. 

Let’s briefly define burnout. According to Christina Maslach, a prominent psychologist, burnout is a “stress response”, but it goes beyond stress as it “involves two other components, one is an increasingly negative, cynical, hostile response to the job, to the work you're doing.” Additionally it includes a “negative sense of self and professional efficacy.” The result is that burnout is a combination of exhaustion due to chronic work stress, cynicism and a negative self-view. All of these things can lead to depression and anxiety and negative health outcomes.

Being able to set healthy boundaries at work will help reduce burnout happening before it’s too late.

Improves Focus on Productivity at Work

Are you feeling that you have so much on your plate that your quality of work is decreasing? Not being able to set boundaries effectively can lead to having too many projects and deadlines, and being unable to fulfil them to the best of your abilities. The ability to set clear boundaries at work will help you ensure you work on high-priority work and enable you to focus on all your work responsibilities, without interruptions. This also means that you have better productivity and higher quality work, ensuring your manager and stakeholders are happy with your work performance.

Setting Boundaries Means Getting Respect from Colleagues

Being able to set boundaries at work and set limits on your availability, energy, commitment and time also establishes you as a professional and fosters respect from others. How, you ask? Well imagine a co-worker that sets boundaries and manages expectations, and always delivers projects on time and at a high quality, someone that is reliable, energetic and a team member.

Now imagine the opposite, a co-worker that accepts all projects, appears disorganized, isn’t collaborative, and seems to be in a bad mood, probably because they are stressed and overtired, and they are nearing burnout. At the same time, this colleague’s unhappiness at work spills over and affects team morale. By being able to set boundaries at work within limits that also ensures your team reaches goals garner respect from colleagues and important stakeholders.

Promotes well-being: Defined boundaries Alleviate Stress, Contributing to a Healthier Work environment and Personal Satisfaction

Being able to set clear boundaries at work reduces stress.  Having more control of the projects you work on and not having your boss call you on holiday reduces stress. There’s a misconception that setting boundaries with your manager will be damaging to your career, but the opposite is true. Setting boundaries with your manager is a form of self-empowerment and actually makes you more productive, because you are working with realistic deadline or at appropriate times and are able to be more energetic and product better outputs.

You’re not outright saying “no” to certain work, but you may be creating frameworks and limitations on what you are able to do and when, and discussing deadlines in a way that makes you less stressed and more productive, impacting the bottom line and the quality of your work. In the end, your manager will be happier with a productive, creative employee that has a positive mindset versus a burnout, cynical, stressed employee who makes mistakes or can’t keep up with the huge workload they agreed to. If you want to increase your well-being at work and reduce your stress, start with learning how to set healthy boundaries at work. A simple one is to say you’re not contactable whilst on holiday, so you can rest and recharge and be much more productive when you come back.

Boundary-setting Demonstrates Assertiveness and Leadership qualities, Essential for Career Advancement

Ever wondered how that successful colleague of yours got to where they are now? It certainly wasn’t because they said yes to everyone that ever asked them to do something. Being time-poor and having others manage that finite resource of time is a one-way ticket to not being successful. The opposite approach, which is setting boundaries early on and being very picky about what you work on, what serves you and what doesn’t means you can showcase leadership qualities but also ensures that you work on highly valuable projects, build important relationships within your company or industry and advance your career.

woman holding a tech product
Woman holding a innovative technology product

Setting Boundaries Helps to Boost your Creativity at Work and Boosts Innovation

Similarly to the above points, being able to set boundaries well at work, means that you have extra time and space in order to get into a creative mindset. Instead of responding to emails every 5 minutes or work-chat messages, if you’ve set a boundary of being on “do not disturb” for an hour, you can actually give your brain the space and time to come up with creative solutions to problems or come up with new product or business lines. Innovation doesn’t simply occur, you need to create the time and space to work on creativity.  

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, when you get into a state of flow, you can achieve better levels of creativity and innovation.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile”

(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

Changing your mindset about boundaries and seeing them not as limits, but as guardrails that actually boost creativity is the first step to transforming your career.

Would you like some help on the above topics and require help from a career coach? Feel free to schedule a call to discuss.

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