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Between Boundaries and Burnout: A Guide to Self-Limitation

We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, but how do you accurately navigate this mindset in a world that never sleeps?  After all, at the end of the day, we’re humans with personal needs, emotions, and goals for ourselves. Most of these personal ambitions aren’t even met by the time we close our eyes only to dream about the inevitable tasks that await us the next morning.

If you feel like you’ve entered a vicious cycle of wake up, work, sleep, repeat, you may want to consider establishing personal boundaries within your daily schedule.

What Are Personal Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are physical, emotional, or mental limits that you set for yourself and those around you.  While setting boundaries in the workplace may seem like the opposite of team building, it can be crucial to the way people collaborate with one another.  By placing these limits for ourselves and others, employers can understand how to assign tasks or goals without overwhelming the rest of the team and avoid the burnout that so many workers face so often these days.

When to Limit Yourself

The path to personal boundaries starts with you, and that starts with burnout recognition.  Below are five quick symptoms of burnout.  If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to start implementing your own personal boundaries.

5 Symptoms of Burnout

  • Increased Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Where to Start

While setting limits for yourself won’t show immediate results, putting this method into play within your own personal ecosystem is sure to show its benefits over time.  Here are a few ways to start taking that added workday stress off your plate.

Be Honest and Upfront

Your coworkers and upper management want you to succeed.  If everyone succeeds as a team, a business can flourish, and so will the bond between team members.  Finding a way to express how you’re feeling and a way to better the situation at hand will benefit the team overall and open a door where trust and communication can work cohesively.

Add “No” to Your Vocabulary

When used politely, the word “no” can do wonders for those days when you just can’t seem to catch up.  Here are a few ways you can decline adding more to your task list:

  • “I’m sorry. I’m a little tied up right now, but I should be freed up in an hour.  Can we talk then?”
  • “[insert name here] should be able to help you with that since that’s not within my skill set. Is there something else I can assist you with in the meantime?”
  • “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed today. Could we tackle this project first thing in the morning?”

Being honest and offering a compromise allows us to express how we’re feeling in the moment, while also lending a helping hand if our schedule allows.

Stay Kind and Think Before you Respond

Communication seems to be one of the most overlooked aspects of a work environment, but it’s easily one of the most important.  When practicing your personal boundaries, putting thought into a response without any impulsive action will be the ticket to communication throughout your office.  The next time you don’t know how to respond to someone, try writing it down and reading it out loud to yourself to make sure your message is delivered as intended and your words are coming from the right place.

Remember your Values

Making our values our top priority will allow us to feel more empowered within our work and our personal lives.  Take some time and write down your beliefs, your values, and what’s most important to you throughout your life.  From here, you can transform those values into your boundary mission statement and allow that mission statement to guide you throughout various moves toward the success of your career.


Experts in IT, staffing, recruiting, and more, AdamsGabbert (AG) is an employment and technology services firm bringing our partners the best talent, opportunities and strategic solutions to meet their business needs. By placing meaning at the center of our business, we create defining moments every chance we get and strive to become our clients’ and candidates’ first call. Founded in 1999, we are proud to be a certified Woman-Owned Business (WBE) and to support our Kansas City community. Unlock meaningful experiences with us today.

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