Your burnout isn’t dead; it’s only changed. Here's how to fix it.

Self-Work is a newsletter by Marcella Chamorro that takes you from stuck to thriving in 5 minutes or less, with strategies to help you show up feeling your best — and deliver your best work, too.


I'm always searching for them. 🕵️‍♀️

And I just found a very powerful one.

As I coach more rising stars and connect with more readers of this newsletter, I’ve noticed one key pattern that holds people back from maximizing their work performance (not to mention their well-being):

The need for BETTER boundaries around our work lives.

We all feel how work encroaches on our every minute of every day through technology. Slack notifications, WhatsApp messages, a quick check of the dashboard before bed....

It can be suffocating. A never-ending treadmill of stress, fatigue, and even hopelessness.

But then again, I know people who sidestep this entirely.

A few years ago, the co-founder of a venture-backed startup told me:

I don’t have Slack on my phone, nor do I have my work email on there. I work at my desk, not everywhere else.

Now, that's a leader I want to work with.

But why?

Why did that statement have such a profound effect on me? Why was mobile phone usage that important?

Because it said so much about the company's culture and how they care for the humans behind the work.

We all need healthy boundaries at work to make our work sustainable, in terms of both performance AND cadence.

But we also need boundaries in order to FEEL GOOD. (And who doesn’t like to feel good?)

Today, you'll learn:

  • The crucial importance of work boundaries, now more than ever
  • What strategies top executives use to set boundaries around their work (including Elon Musk)
  • How to identify and design your own boundaries
  • Proven ways to successfully implement (and maintain) your boundaries to create a sense of balance and harmony

Why do work boundaries matter?

Whether you're a boss, an entrepreneur, or a full-time mom, the constant struggle to manage an overwhelming workload within limited time is all too familiar.

Just last week, I received this email:

Feels impossible to balance a full-time job, teaching, and starting something of my own.

This hurts, emotionally and physically.

And it isn’t how the best leaders (even those leading billion dollar companies) spend their time.

There’s another way, but it can be hard to see when you’re in the trenches with so much on your plate.

As I wrote about in the last newsletter, what happens if you DON’T focus on fixing this?

Effects on yourself

Neglecting work boundaries leads to genuine distress. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline surge, taking a toll on your mental health and physical well-being.

This weakens your immune system, increases the risk of chronic conditions, disrupts sleep, causes muscle tension and pain, leads to digestive issues, and induces fatigue. Establishing healthy boundaries is crucial for protecting your physical health.

Effects on your relationships

Without good work boundaries, you have less time for relationships. You also have less focus for them when you DO have time for them. You end up distracted, checking your phone instead of being present.

Being present would lead you to more connection, more trust, and also a better physical and emotion well-being for both you and the person you’re with.

Personally, I avoid people who looks down at their phone while we’re talking. Let's make sure we're not the ones doing it to others.

Effects on your work

Being burned out means you stop producing high quality work. When you're not performing at your best, pushback at work and a decline in your professional standing are likely consequences.

(Not to scare you or anything.)

This can have a direct impact for your organization, too. You work there because you do important work, and falling short hurts your workplace’s bottom line.

Did you know? Lost productivity from mental health disorders cost companies a staggering $1T annually.

For real.

Leaders with healthy boundaries

Earlier, I told you about a co-founder that doesn't have work apps on his phone. But he isn't the only one running a big organization who sets healthy work boundaries.

Elon Musk is known for sleeping under his desk and have few work boundaries, but when reading his biography by Walter Isaacson I was surprised to read that he found solace in video game when things got tough. Likely, that was his way of making it through.

However, it's important to note that Elon's extreme work habits, such as working until 2am and sleeping under his desk, should not be taken as a literal example. 🫠

Wade Foster, the CEO of Zapier, advocates for asynchronous communication, reducing the need for immediate responses, promoting deep work time, and eliminating the pressure of always being "online."

Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, makes time each day for vigorous exercise. At 72 years old and managing one of the largest corporations in the world, he still prioritizes training for triathlons.

If they can, can you?

Identify and design your own boundaries

When you take a long, hard look at your work life, what aspects of your behavior do you wish to change?

Could be something like…

  • Would you like to stop working at an earlier time? Or have a peaceful lunch without your computer or phone going off?
  • Would you like to have more dedicated time for deep work, with less distractions?
  • Would you like to stop taking work calls and messages after hours, or during your time off?
  • Would you like to say ‘no’ to new requests when your plate is already overflowing?
  • Would you like to stop attending unnecessary meetings?

All of these challenges are doable — and coachable.

Every situation is different, yes, and every situation can be improved.

After you’ve figured out what you would like to change, figure out what the IDEAL scenario would look like.

Here are a few things I hear in coaching sessions:

  • Mornings for deep work, afternoons for meetings.
  • Leave my phone at my desk when I go to lunch.
  • Delete work apps from my phone when I can, especially during weekends.
  • Ask if I’m truly needed on a meeting before accepting.
  • Set aside time for exercise, come rain or shine.

The options are endless.

Implement your boundaries

Implementing work boundaries can be challenging, but it is essential for your well-being. Every boundary will need a unique approach to implement it effectively, but here are two things that most boundaries share in common:


Setting a new work boundary usually includes having a challenging conversation:

  1. With yourself: Get clarity on what contributed to the lack of boundary and how to best approach setting it from now on. The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely you are to remedy the situation from happening again.
  2. With others: It’s not easy to tell your boss when you’ll be unavailable due to family needs or tell a coworker that you won’t be answering WhatsApp messages anymore. It can feel awkward and tense. But it’s also necessary, and you can do so with skill, tact, and kindness.

(That’s why I’m launching a course on exactly how to have those conversations, how to navigate the conversations you fear and tend to avoid, so be on the look out for that in early November. Stay tuned.)


Constraints can push you to work smarter, not harder.

You might think that working less hours means you get less work done, but it doesn’t have to be the best.

All the companies that use a four-day workweek have experienced a surge in productivity, despite removing an entire day’s worth of work.

Why is that? Well, our tasks will take the amount of time we give ourselves to complete them: whether that’s 2 hours or 2 days.


Setting boundaries isn’t necessarily comfortable. You’ll need to push yourself to set your boundaries or slide back into burnout and a situation that is far from ideal.

Our regular way of doing things (sans boundaries) can act like a magnet and pull us back in. Put your full weight against that and step toward your new boundaries with conviction.

It’ll make your work life higher quality and more sustainable.

Be the first to take ⚡️ The Growth Quiz ⚡️

We all have stuff we need to work on, but how do you figure out exactly what to do next?

I developed a quiz (totally free) to help you gain clarity on the next frontier of your growth.

  1. Take stock of where you’re at in your work life
  2. Get laser-focused on what to work on next to unlock your potential now, this month, this year, and beyond.


PS: The quiz is brand new, just launched a few days ago. Let me know what you think?

That's all for this edition

Discovering this pattern 🕵️‍♀️ in my coaching work has inspired me to set some new boundaries of my own.

For example: If I own my business, I can set my own hours.

If I’m going to shoulder the burden of growing this on my own (giving up a cushy tech salary and benefits), I can use the freedom to build the life that feels most energizing and joyous to me.

I now have a dedicated chunk of time in the mornings for my creative work (like this newsletter, the quiz, the podcast, and my upcoming course).

But I leave the afternoons mostly open for my kids, who are in a precious stage of being so fun and enjoyable. I like to spend a few hours guiding them through homework, playing card games, or shooting hoops.

At the end of the day, I'm Mom before I am Coach.

If any work happens in the afternoons, it’s because I want to work, not because I feel obligated to.

A boundary I’m still working on? Devices away at 6pm. 🫣

What about you?

What boundary will you set this week?

You got this. ✌️

All the best vibes ✨

Marcella Chamorro

Mental Health Coach + Executive Coach

Marcella Chamorro

Marcella is mindset coach for award-winning tech teams and an experienced marketing leader with a track record of successful creative ventures focused on mental health. She's worked with both thriving venture-backed organizations and wildly profitable bootstrapped companies to maximize their work performance and well-being.