Time management articles offer excellent ideas for jump-starting your productivity, replenishing your energy, and helping you live as fully as you can in each and every moment. But ideas have to be put into action if they are going to be effective.
So, why set boundaries, anyway? Well, creating and maintaining effective boundaries gives you "breathing room." Boundaries function as powerful stress-reducers, creativity-enhancers, and productivity-protectors. The more constructively you set and maintain boundaries, the happier and more effective you will be. And this doesn’t just apply to boundaries having to do with other people (external boundaries), though that’s what we are focusing on today. Internal boundaries are also vital for maintaining focus and energy, and finding time!
There’s one common misconception about boundaries that has probably stopped you many times, so let’s take a look:
When you set a boundary, you are NOT imposing something on another person. Not at all. What you are doing is describing a need and defining YOUR limit. This is your assertive right!
Think of setting a boundary as defining, clarifying, or changing what you do with your time. And that is always the best way to present your time boundary to others – using “I” messages.
Here are 3 simple strategies to help you set a new boundary. Choose one and take action; no matter what, you’ll learn from the process!
1. Setting a Time Boundary to Address a Chronic Time Challenge: Is saying “Yes” to everyone a problem for you? Is there another time challenge that you’d like to address using a boundary? Well, here’s a good first step: Begin by owning your role in the problem. This is clarifying for you and for the people you will be communicating with.
Provide the context for your new time boundary by describing your current problem. Readily acknowledge any part you yourself have played in creating it. By focusing on your choices, you make it clear that you are not attempting to blame anyone for your current problem. This, in turn, makes it possible for people to be that much more receptive to the boundary you propose.
2. Setting a Time Boundary to Create Time for a Project: It always helps to let people know about changes ahead of time. So, if you have a big project on the horizon and you know that you will need chunks of uninterrupted time to focus, then give people a head’s up. Explain the change that you are going to make in your behavior to work on your project. Maybe you’ll say something like, "Next week, I'm going to focus on my report, and won't answer calls until after 3 PM."
By describing this boundary as a change that you are making, you keep all the power within your control. See how different it feels than if you ask the other person not to call until after 3:00. If you do that, you are putting the burden on them, and forfeiting your power!
3. Taking Others’ Needs into Account AND Setting a Time Boundary: When setting your boundary it is appropriate and respectful to request others’ understanding and cooperation. It is also very important to be clear that you'll be changing your end, no matter what.
Discussing ways that people can get what they need while you are unavailable is just fine. In fact, it can be a way to reinforce your seriousness about your boundary. In situations where this kind of negotiation is necessary; however, it is very important that you follow through and maintain the boundary that you set. This will stand you in good stead for similar situations in the future.
In all boundary-setting situations, use "I" messages that focus on what you feel and what you will do. This underscores the fact that you're not setting this boundary to punish the other person or to engage in a power play.
More and more, as you follow this approach, you’ll see your time challenges in terms of personal choices that you have the power to change. Claiming your power in this way, you at once reduce feelings of overwhelm, victimization and resentment, and increase your creativity, confidence, and productivity.
And to move toward your Heart-Based Time Success, sign up for our free gift, the Finding Time Success Kit, which includes "The New Finding Time Boundary Template: 9 Simple, Sequential Steps to Find More Time and Recharge Your Energy!" Using a workbook format this powerful and practical time template helps you progress beyond disappointment and frustration. Discover that 24 hours really are enough!
Offered by Paula Eder, Ph.D., The Time Finder Expert.
Paula Eder, PhD is an internationally-known coach and published author who specializes in mentoring heart-based entrepreneurs and small business owners, from the inside out, to align their core values and energy with their time choices and behaviors so that they make more money, create more freedom, and find more time.
You can learn more about Paula’s unique, Heart-Based Time Management™ System and begin your transformational journey by signing up for her Finding Time Success Kit. Follow your heart-based path to finding time for what matters most.