Drawing the Line: Boundaries at Work (#3)

cubicle work

“YOUR procrastination is not MY emergency.” I am a planner so I have little empathy for people who wait to the last minute and scramble around causing panic for others. I provide resources to empower the students I manage to find the answers they need. I intentionally don’t tell them the quick answer they want. I say, “Let’s all get out the syllabus and find out.” I put the accountability of finding out information back on them.

This is the third blog in a series based on the book, Boundaries. We will be looking at how we can “Draw the Line” to protect ourselves at work.

A lot of conflict can erupt when people are not clear about expectations and responsibilities. The book identifies common boundary problems at work.

1. Getting saddled with another person’s responsibilities – When we make someone else’s job our priority, then our responsibilities get neglected. We are paid to complete our responsibilities.

2. Working too much overtime – When we have limited time to accomplish the task, we can focus better and release the non-important tasks. Instead of working overtime, the book suggests asking your boss a question. “If I am going to do A today, I will not be able to do B until Wednesday. Is that okay or do we need to rethink which one I need to be working on?” Realize your limits and do not allow work to control your life. Limits force prioritization.

3. Misplaced priorities— If time is limitless, you may say yes to everything. Spend time on the most important things. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked by distractions that are not high value. Your boss’s essential goals must get done.

4. Difficult co-workers. You must see yourself as the problem, not the other person. You only have control of yourself.

One of the bite-sized pieces of wisdom that I got from the Boundaries book is to embrace work as a spiritual journey. Thinking of work as a partnership between me and God allows me to be generous with my talents so I can continue to develop them. Through refinement, I can better serve others.

I actively manage 150 people every semester. I found myself frustrated because I felt responsible for poor quality work produced by students. In the process of “Drawing the Line” I was able to protect myself from people taking time, energy, and resources that I’m not willing to give. I decided to define what is on my side of the line: It is my responsibility to make expectations clear. I set a reasonable time-frame for task completion. I provide clarification of what I want the end result to look like. I set aside designated time to answer follow-up questions. I am not responsible for poor quality work. I am not responsible for last-minute scrambling around that causes panic. I am not responsible for the emergency caused by procrastination. I will soon give my line an upgrade so I don’t  have to SAY “it’s in the syllabus” over and over again because students don’t want to be accountable for finding out the answer themselves. Instead, I will follow the lead of another professor and get the shirt.


Reflect & Share: Which of the boundary problems do you struggle the most with? Who do you need stronger boundaries with at work?

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Other Resources

Roles & Boundaries in Higher Education

Online quiz: Boundaries at work

Get the Book (buy)



Filed under communication, Self-Growth

3 responses to “Drawing the Line: Boundaries at Work (#3)

  1. Benedetta crafty

    I find your point on Working too much overtime is very vital. We cannot really perform if we have to handle so many tasks at a certain time. We are not robots. We are humans. In order to deliver a successful task is only by having a focus mind. Complete a task given and move on to the next one only when its done. That’s my philosophy of life.
    Love your post, It helps out a lot in our daily life.

    Instagram: benedetta_crafty

  2. Pingback: Drawing the Line: Review (#14) | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

  3. Pingback: One Year Blogging (#6): 3 Blogs about Work | My Journey to a Fulfilled Life

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