How to Set Boundaries at Work for Better Work-Life Balance

Striking a work-life balance is harder today than ever before. Recently released statistics from Censuswide show that 53% of UK workers feel overworked while 40% say they are looking for a career with a better work-life balance. 

Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to jump ship to find a better work-life balance. Instead, you may just need to set better boundaries to protect your work-life balance and boost your mental health. 

Setting clear boundaries can boost your productivity and improve your professional relationships, too. Learning how to say “no” ensures you never have too much on your plate and frees up time for more creative tasks. 

Setting Work-Life Goals

Organizations that promote a work-life balance benefit from improved performance, increased diversity, and enhanced agility. However, actually achieving a work-life balance can be tricky if you’re used to burning the midnight candle to meet stretch goals and burdensome deadlines. Fortunately, you can lean on some tried and tested methods to improve your work-life balance

Start by setting aside time to do what you love. Scheduling time for hobbies like writing, woodworking, or working out improves your motivation and increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through with your plans. This will give you something to look forward to outside of work and ensure that you’re identity isn’t built solely around your career. 

 You can further enhance your motivation by setting goals to reduce the risk of burnout. For example, if you know that you tend to overwork, you might set a work-based goal like: 

“This month, I will work no more than 30 minutes of overtime per week”

This will help you prioritize your work-life balance and improve your timekeeping skills. This same approach could be used for other common issues like answering emails outside of work hours or taking on too many responsibilities. When setting goals, be sure to follow the SMART principles and set goals that are:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Attainable;
  • Relevant;
  • Time Bound.

This goal-setting method keeps you accountable and helps you measure your progress. This is key when setting boundaries to improve your work-life balance, as it’s all too easy to say “yes” to tasks that will overburden you. By setting SMART goals related to work, you can improve your performance, protect your productivity, and still make time for hobbies.  

Making Time for Hobbies

Setting goals for activities outside of work is a great way to motivate yourself and promote a better work-life balance. However, if you continue to put off your hobbies, you may find that your goals actually cause you more stress. This is a real issue, as your hobbies should help calm your mind and reduce fatigue. 

If it’s been a while since you went to your last spin class or squash game, consider utilizing some effective strategies to balance your hobbies and work. Get the ball rolling by assessing your priorities and identifying the hobbies that bring you the most joy. This will help you block out time in your day for activities that you find personally fulfilling. 

Consider making some space at home for your favoured hobby, too. For example, if you’ve recently developed a passion for yoga, consider converting some of your garage into a studio. This removes the risk of missing practices, as you’ll always be able to roll out your mat and find a stretch even if you can’t make it to class. 

You can further increase your odds of showing up for hobbies by going with a friend. Offer to rideshare together, too, as you won’t want to let down your pal and will save a few extra pounds on petrol. Going with a friend alleviates any fear you may have about meeting new people and socializing, too. 

These changes help you set boundaries by encouraging you to make time for your hobbies. This is crucial, as it’s all too easy to say “yes” to overtime if you don’t have anything going on in the evenings. By investing in your hobbies, you increase your odds of setting firm boundaries and will benefit from a healthier work-life balance. 

Learning to Say “No”

If you’re a focused, team-oriented kind of person, you’ve probably taken on more responsibilities than you should. This is entirely normal, as it’s only natural to try to fill in when your firm is in need. However, routinely taking on extra responsibilities will actually diminish your productivity, undermine your work-life balance, and lead to burnout. 

You can protect yourself and limit work stress by learning how to say “no”. Saying “no” doesn’t necessarily have to be confrontational, either. Instead, use some tact and let your co-workers know where they can find help. For example, if a co-worker is trying to guilt-trip you into taking on some of their work, be clear that you will not take it on, but empower them by telling them to reach out to a manager or a specialist in their area. 

If you find your manager is the one asking for stretch goals and demanding deadlines, try to understand their perspective while reaffirming your boundaries. Oftentimes, your manager may overlook the importance of your usual activities when they are under stress. Rather than rejecting their request out of hand, explain that taking on additional responsibilities would likely jeopardize the success of higher-priority tasks. This shows your manager that you understand the business, care about your role, and are simply trying to ensure that higher-priority tasks are taken care of. 


Setting clear boundaries is a great way to protect your mental health and reassert your work-life balance. Even small changes, like scheduling time for badminton or bowls, can help you rest and recover from a challenging week at work. Try to use tact when turning down extra responsibilities and keep the broader business goals in mind when formulating a response. This shows that you care about the success of the firm, but are serious about protecting your health and productivity. 

Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee lives in the Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors on a regular basis. Indiana loves experiencing new things and sharing with others what she learns through her writing. You can chat with Indiana on twitter @IndianaLee3