We only get one chance to make a first impression. But when we’re starting a new job, we can sometimes go too far: saying yes to everything, making ourselves available 24/7, and volunteering for extra tasks when we already have a full plate. 

There’s nothing wrong with going above and beyond, especially when we’re starting a new role. But those early weeks are also an opportunity to set boundaries. And when we’re intentional about setting these boundaries, we set ourselves up to do our best work over time, without burning out.

To start, be clear with yourself about the boundaries that help you do your best work – and also help you make time for what matters most outside of work. Then, communicate them to your manager – in your Entry Interview, in one-on-ones, and over time as your role evolves.

Here are 9 Microsteps to help you set boundaries at your new job:

1. Declare an end to the day, even if you haven’t completed your to-do list. 

As long as you have completed the essential priorities, acknowledge that you can’t finish everything in one day. Take time to recharge – your to-do list will be waiting for you in the morning!

2. Let your team know when you’ll be offline.

A quick note or away message will make your boundaries visible to others.

3. Block off time for focused work, ideally at the start of your day.

Set a calendar reminder and let colleagues know so they’ll be less likely to interrupt you.

4. Put meal times on your calendar to hold yourself accountable, and for others to see.

Scheduling consistent meal times will help you block time to prepare and enjoy your food. By making it public, you’ll send a signal to your co-workers that you’re away from your desk and email for a little while.

5. Schedule time off in the next three months.

Often we neglect to take time away from work until we feel overwhelmed. Proactively setting aside time, even a long weekend, gives us something to look forward to and helps prevent burnout.

6. Twice a day, take a stretch break.

Frequent movement throughout the day can help get your blood flowing and find your focus.

7. Block off time on your calendar for “no meeting” time.

By setting boundaries around your hours of peak productivity, you’ll create space to focus and address your top priorities. 

8. Tell your manager about your most important boundaries.

Start the conversation with compassionate directness. When your manager knows what matters most to you and how you work best they’re better able to support you.

9. Find a partner who can hold you accountable to your boundaries. 

If you’ve started your new job at the same time as someone else, link up with them and check in with each other. 

For more on how to set boundaries in your new role, watch a clip from our newest course, Thriving Onboarding, below.


  • Jordan Hutchinson

    Associate Editor of Content Development at Thrive

    Jordan Hutchinson is an Associate Editor at Thrive. She started at Thrive as a Content Fellow in 2021, and is now supporting the development of new content and curriculum across the company. She is also a recent graduate from George Washington University with backgrounds in English literature, creative writing, French language, and psychology.