Why you need some boundaries to survive in the food and farming industry 

Boundaries has become a bit of buzz word over the last few years but what are boundaries and why do you need some to survive in the food and farming industry? 

In a work / life context the term “boundaries” means the limits or rules that we set for ourselves around our time, energy and effort. We need them because without boundaries it is easy, in an industry that is always on the go, to feel like we should always be on the go as well. Always being available can lead to burnout, anxiety and an inability to switch off. The advances in smart phones means we can always be available if we choose. So, the question then becomes all about what we choose. 

Here are some ideas to think about 

  • What are your boundaries around being available remotely and what hours are you willing to work? These have changed for me over the years and having some rules around when you check emails and being consistent can make a real difference to that feeling of always needing to check.  
  • Do you communicate your boundaries to others? You don’t need a list of when you are available but if colleagues know that you will only check emails once a day at the weekend and they should call if something is urgent they will be more likely to respect this. If you reply to emails all weekend people will get used to you being available and assume that you are.  
  • If you are a leader you are having a wider impact than you may realise. You set the tone for what others see as acceptable. For example you may say “enjoy your holiday and we will cover here” but if you then reply to emails when you are away, your team will understand that they are also expected to answer emails while they are on holiday. It can also be confusing for colleagues. The manager who replies to emails on holiday may feel like they are helping but it stops others managing a situation because you are dipping in and out. This denies members of your team the chance to grow and develop in your absence. 
  • Irritation, normally viewed as a negative emotion, can be really useful to identify when boundaries are being pushed. I used to think this was someone else’s fault and they were taking advantage but I have learned that when do you feel put upon it is warning that one of your boundaries is being tested. When you think it through in this way you can do something about it. 

Once we start thinking about boundaries we can make subtle changes to reclaim some control over our working lives. You can experiment with what works for you and nothing is set in stone, but your boundaries can become a little firmer. 

I’m Jennie, I’ve worked in HR in the food industry for over 20 years so I know the pressures that you face.  I am a coach specialising in helping leaders in the food industry to create better boundaries and feel more confident so they can have a better work life balance, feel less frazzled and have more control over their careers. If you would like a chat about how I can help please email me: freedomhrandcoaching@btinternet.com.

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