Setting Work Boundaries

Julie Ballantyne Brown
3 min readApr 28, 2023

The journey to keeping work at work

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

For most of the past three months, I haven’t done much “job” work at home, unlike my previous teaching incarnations.

Very few graded papers in the evenings or on the weekends.

Very little lesson planning at home.

One trip to stock up on glue sticks and pencils a few weeks ago.

I’ve created new boundaries this time and I’m sticking to them.

Two years ago I quit teaching, I thought, for good. I was burnt out on so many levels and Covid remote learning didn’t help.

Work was, and is, only a part of my life. It’s important, but not my passion. My passions won’t pay the bills quite yet. I’ve realized after several years of trying to please everyone that doing work on my own time was only contributing, heavily, to the burnout.

Teaching is already a stressful job, what with extremely disrespectful students, aggressive or indifferent parents, and over-excessive meetings on top of actually teaching. I was spending many hours grading and planning at home, eating up my evening and weekend hours, time that was supposed to be mine. There was never a chance to be totally free of work, and if I actually did take a weekend day for myself (in addition to laundry, cleaning the house, kids’ activities, etc.), there was always a lot of prep the day before or a lot of catch-up the day after.

Remote learning blurred those boundaries even more. I was checking my work email all the time: evenings, weekends, holidays. Staff were encouraged to take care of themselves, but were then given time-consuming and meaningless tasks like making data charts of student test scores that we would never actually use.

I left for two years, getting a new job with a major university. It was a nice change, I learned a lot, and met some really wonderful people, but it wasn’t for me.

The return to teaching was serendipitous. The timing was perfect, it all flowed smoothly. I am teaching what I majored in and get to work with some really cool people. The most important thing, though, is that I set and strive to keep those boundaries.

I usually stay after school for about an hour to an hour and a half each day after…

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Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown