Today I went to Target on my lunch break, fully intending to do nothing but tend to myself and enjoy the change of scenery. Whenever I go places on lunch, I try my very best to take a step back and set up a strong boundary: it’s me time. I don’t do anything to help anyone else, and that is on purpose. I work customer service all day long, so this single hour is the only time that no one is asking anything of me . . . until a stranger mistakes me for a Target employee and asks me for help.
For mental health reasons, we need strong boundaries around our time off. The boundaries are actually already in place, we just need to honor them. Boundaries include: your contracted working hours, your paid time off, your lunch breaks/mornings/evenings/weekends. What would it look like if we took these time frames seriously? What would if feel like to leave work after a solid eight hours instead of doing one more thing? What would change for the better if we didn’t look at our phone while we were at home?
Sometimes, I leave work on time and it feels amazing. More than that, it feels like I’m leaving early. Yes, “on time” is actually “early” in my line of work. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in any industry, which is why we have to be diligent to fight for ourselves. The whole point of a career is that you work it for many, many years. So really, there is always more work to be done. Since work never ends, we need to implement healthy boundaries and cease work at appropriate times.
For awhile I worked through my lunch hour, believing this to be the way to get ahead. But the work never ended, which left me feeling more behind and overwhelmed. Sensing my stress, a kind person pointed out that our health is our number one priority, and that work will wait.
It’s high time for us to embrace and apply Dolly Parton’s saying, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
Since then, I’ve implemented a new strategy: tend to the important tasks first, be ruthlessly efficient in the others, take a step back, and walk away.
So, no, I do not help strangers with their shopping needs. I do not check my email or bother with social media outside of working hours. In a nutshell: I keep to myself and my family, aiming to stay off the grid. I choose to live this way because becoming burnt out is too easy. I choose to implement healthy boundaries with my work so that I have time for my personal life each day.
I’d love to hear: do you struggle with work boundaries and/or getting overwhelmed by the endless scrolling on social media? I always feel more drained than inspired after “catching up” on missed Instagram posts. How do you feel about it?