How to Use Tech to Set Boundaries

Alexis Haselberger
3 min readMar 13, 2023
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Is there an “easy button” for setting boundaries?

Actually there are a few. (And don’t worry, we’ll get to those in a minute!)

I know, I know. Boundaries are hard. It takes courage to set them, and diligence to enforce them.

And you don’t always have access to things like high levels of willpower. Willpower and decision making skills tend to erode throughout the day, making it harder and harder to muster up the energy you need to stick to your guns when you need those boundaries most!

You don’t want to leave enforcing your boundaries up to chance! So, what are your options?

Fortunately, you can actually use your tech to help you enforce your boundaries. Here’s how:

Block off your calendar to help yourself stick to your boundaries

  • New mom who needs to pump during the day? Block your calendar.
  • Call it “pumping” if you want to make a statement and normalize parenthood in the workplace; make it private if that doesn’t feel comfortable to you.

Set work hours in your work calendar

  • This helps others easily know when you’re available and when you’re not, so you’ll have to have fewer conversations that begin with a request to move a meeting.
  • Here’s how to do it Outlook or Google Calendar

Auto Decline meetings that are outside of your work hours

  • Once you’ve set work hours in your calendar, you can take it a step further and so your calendar can do the uncomfortable work of pushing back for you.
  • Here’s how in Outlook or Google Calendar

Use custom status/away messages in Slack or Teams to let people know you’re offline, and how to get you in an emergency

  • You can do this during your off-hours (I.e. “I’ll be back online at 8am Monday; if it’s an emergency, please call or text.”)
  • Or just when you need some uninterrupted time to get stuff done! (i.e. “I’m head’s down on an important project and will be back online at 4pm; if you need me for a true emergency before then, please call or text.”)

Add something to your signature in email letting people know your general work hours and how to get you in an emergency

  • Serving the same purpose as custom Slack/Teams statuses, you can add something to your email signature like “I respond to email between 9am and 5pm Pacific, Monday through Friday. If you need me urgently outside of those hours, please call or text.”

Caveat: If you are part of a marginalized or non-dominant group (i.e. anyone other than a white man if you’re in the US), there may be greater repercussions for saying no or pushing back at work. It’s important to assess and understand the risks inherent in your specific situation. (Do I wish I didn’t have to include this caveat? Yes I do. Would I be remiss if I didn’t? Yes, I would.)

Share your tech tips! How are you letting your tech enforce your boundaries for you?

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Originally published at https://www.alexishaselberger.com on March 13, 2023.

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