Are Work/Life Boundaries Possible?

Not uncommonly, a new client will come into my office, concerned that they are unable to stop worrying about work. Sometimes they will be concerned that they have obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or some other anxiety “problem.”

“What kind of work do you do?” I ask. The answer is usually some kind of knowledge work: Technology, law, sales, or entrepreneurship of various kinds.

“How many hours a week do you work?” I ask. The answer is always north of fifty.

“Do you bring work home from the office?” I ask. The answer is always “yes.”

“How much dedicated away-from-work time do you have?” The answer is usually a laugh or a look of puzzlement.

So, you work all the time--or, at least, you’re never not working--and you wonder why you can’t stop thinking about work?

Lest I sound unsympathetic, let me be clear: I understand. I know that you would prefer not to work so much. I know the constant hum of low-level pressure, the sense of never really being off the clock, and the vague hiss of Opportunity Cost. I get it.


You can’t work all the time. Or at least, you can’t do so in a way that is sustainable and healthy. I’m going to be adding some posts on ways that you can realistically implement better boundaries with work.  But first, I’m wondering if you’ve even bought in to the idea. Does it seem like a worthwhile goal? Does it seem possible?