Micro-Boundaries

A few months ago when I was facilitating a workshop, a woman in the group came up with a great term I hadn’t heard before.

Micro-boundaries.

We had been discussing the importance of having boundaries in our work life, of being able to assert things like how many hours we work in a week, or how available we are outside of work hours.

But this was a new twist on the theme. A micro-boundary, as she explained it, was an internal check we provide for ourselves. It’s how we decide whether to respond to that late-night email, to volunteer for the extra assignment, to stop what we’re doing when we get pinged or keep in the flow of our task.

I love this concept for a couple of reasons. First, it starts with the individual. What can I do, right now, to take action on what’s important to me? What difference can I make today?

Second, I like that it starts small. I don’t have to wait for something big or high-stakes to happen; I can act right away on something that will make a difference. If we can get used to saying, “Oh, we need to find a different time, Fridays don’t work for my schedule,” then we can work up to advocating for a pay raise, a flexible work arrangement, or more staff.

What micro-boundaries do you use? Are there any you’d like to implement?

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