Managing WorkLife Boundaries

In a world of constant access and busy lives, everyone struggles with managing their energy and time. it is difficult to be engaged and effective when overwhelmed and stretched too thin. Many of us are rushing through our days in a blur of activity and connections; managing more roles, with higher expectations and fewer resources.

What’s your style?


Integrator: I blend work with personal tasks and commitments throughout the day. When I am working, i attend family issues, and when I am with family, I attend to work. I go back and forth between work and personal responsibilities during any given day.

Separator: I keep work and personal tasks and commitments separated with a clear boundary between the two. I like to focus on work when I am working, and I like to focus on family when with family.

Work Firster: In my daily routine, my family schedule comes first. I allow work to interrupt family time. i have clearly established boundaries protecting work time, but not around family time.

Family Firster: In my daily routine, my family schedule comes first. I allow family to interrupt my woe, but do not allow work to interrupt family time. I have firm boundaries protecting family time, but allow work time to be interrupted.

Cycler: I switch back and forth between cycles of highly integrating family and work followed by periods of intentionally separating them. I follow established, on going rhythms of mixing work and family followed by periods clearly separating the two.


Work Focused: I identify with and invest myself primarily in work. I structure my life to give my best energy to work.

Family Focused: I identify with and invest myself primarily in my family roles. I structure my life to give my best energy to family.

Dual Focused: I identify with and invest myself equally in both my work and family. Both are central in how I see myself.

Other Focused: My primary identify and investments is in life interests that do not necessarily pertain directly to work or family, uscg as recreation athletiics, a side job, a side job, a hobby, community, or volunteering. This is my central life interest.


High Boundary Control: I feel like I control how I divide time and attention between work and family. I am in control of when I focus on work, when I focus on family, and how I blend the two.

Moderate Boundary Control: I feel like I have moderate control over how I divide my time and attention when it comes to work and family boundaries. I may have moderate levels of control in both my work and personal life or I may have more control in one way or another.

Low Boundary Control: I frequently do not feel in control of how I divide my time and attention between work and family.

Tips to More Effectively Manage Boundaries

Set aside time for yourself- Set a time each day (or at least once a week) when you can focus on your needs, so you can rest and avoid burnout. It doesn’t have to be long, just enough time to slow down and focus on you.

Experiment with creating connections between your work and family roles- For example, consider discussing a work challenge with your spouse or another friend or family member they may have some creative ideas to solve your dilemma and feel closer to you as a result.

Manage your mood and use transition times positively- Pay attention to how your transition from work to your personal life so that you have energy for your family concerns. After work, you may have a transition time during which you stop thinking of work and begin to focus on family needs.

Leverage technology to help you control boundaries- Use technology to make your life more predictable Schedule blocks of time when electronic communication devices are turned off. Use technology to improve communications with your stakeholders at work and at home so that changes to your schedules are well understood.

Communicate with stakeholders frequently- about your upcoming priorities, schedule needs, and preferences. Determine the most pressing needs at work or at home and create and communicate a plan that enables you to meet those needs and explain the situation when needs cannot be met, and look for a solution together.

Use substitutes- to allow you o focus on the most meaningful tasks. For example, you may want to hire someone to clean your house so you have more time to focus on work or family needs.

Identify big priorities in life- and focus on meeting those demands first. For example, determine your family’s most pressing needs and create a plan that enable you to fulfill those needs reliably. Meanwhile, explain why you may not be able to meet all needs. Develop a work plan and discuss it with your boss and others so that there is mutual understanding of your priorities and your plan for accomplishing key tasks.

Good luck =)

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Great post from an “Dual-Focused Integrator with Moderate Boundary Controls!” I have integrated my work and family lives so that I don’t have choose one or the other. Now that my children are grown with children of their own, I am less focused on family and more focused on work. During our lifetime, our priorities tend to change, as well as our work-life integration or separation. The key to focus on what makes you happy and use the “Tweak-It” principles to make small adjustments to accommodate your style preference.

Avatar photo Emily Jarvis

I really like the part in the tips about having your family invested in your work-life, that way they can be an informed sounding board.

Andrew Krzmarzick

I’d say I’m an Integrator that used to be Work First. It’s probably been in the last 12-18 months as my son grows up that I’ve become more Family Focused. My goal is to become almost exclusively Others-Focused one day – thinking about how to do that on the job and in my community as a way of developing people around me. There was a recent Jack Welch article that got me thinking about that a bit more:

I’d say that all of us have far more control over our boundaries than we realize – and once we appreciate the power we have, we’re able to make adjustments in our Behavior and Identity.

Samantha Holquist

This is a great summary of the presentation! I have a hard time pinning myself down to just one identity and behavior because I feel like it changes so often due to the different things going on in life. I feel like as I get further in my career, it will become more clear!