Honor Boundaries to Save our Minds

Burn out is real. If you’re not careful, it’s much easier to burn out in a Work From Home environment because there’s no boundaries. How could we honor open communication and boundaries at the same time...to save our minds?



Learn how to articulate yourself in a succinct manner on email. If the matter is too complex to explain, pencil in an appointment instead.

In the past, if you are not at your desk, it means you are tucked in a meeting room somewhere, hopefully having a productive meeting. Nobody is going to enter the room to tap on your shoulders to ask you a quick question. You might not even be logged in when you are having that meeting. Your attention focused on what the other person have to say.


Now? You could be in a meeting and getting IB (Instant Bloomberg) or IM (Instant Messages) from folks asking their “quick question”. You want to be there for your colleagues, team members, manager or whoever is dropping you those IB/IM. After all, it’s important to have an open communication, so you end up picking up all these chats while trying to focus in your meeting.


Some folks may pick up those chats and politely say “Sorry I am in a meeting, can I get back to you later?” But that act itself already destroyed what little reserve of focus you might have.


Some folks may choose to click “decline chat”. But it’s too late, you are already distracted so you muster what is little left in your focus reserve and force yourself to listen harder.


By the time the meeting ends, it’s time to drop out from Nexi/Zoom/Webex and dial in to the next meeting. After all, you are at desk anyway. You don’t have to walk to a different meeting room. So now we can stretch all meeting to a full hour.


This is not sustainable for our mental health in the long run. It erodes deep work and deep thinking.


Let’s help each other out. We can still honor the culture of open communication but we can also honor boundaries to save our minds.


Before you send an instant chat to someone, are there ways for you to check if the person is in a meeting?


If it’s not that urgent, could you send a email instead? Maybe you are just afraid that the person is not replying. You might say that, replies usually take a day and sometimes we go back-and-forth. Then maybe we could play our part by articulating our ask clearly in that message.


Is your question a truly “quick question”? But, if it’s so quick, could you have find out the answer by yourself or… are you just asking out of convenience because you are too lazy to check?


Your matter is urgent. It’s life or death. But did this suddenly become an urgent matter out of poor planning? Take some time to really reflect on that. If it’s out of poor planning, let’s do a better job.


“Got time to hop on a quick call now?” - only 2 out of 10 times are urgent situation that warrants a call. Learn how to articulate yourself in a succinct manner on email. If the matter is too complex to explain, pencil in an appointment instead.


What if the other person’s appointment looks packed and your matter can’t wait? Then what makes you think they could drop everything and give you their full attention for a “quick call”?


We all tend to have good intentions. Sometimes we might create more stress for each other unintentionally.


Let’s practice mindfulness together. Let’s have some empathy. Make that little bit more effort to honor boundaries.