As a small business owner, it is easy to become overwhelmed by everyone and everything that wants a piece of your time. Establishing and maintaining clear boundaries is the solution. Without proper boundaries work can take over your life, while kept boundaries in their own strange way manifest freedom.
Imagine you are standing on the top of a pinnacle that is 12 feet across and 2000 feet high. Where would you likely be standing? That’s right, safely in the middle. Now imagine there is an 8′ plexiglass wall around the edge of the pinnacle. See how that simple boundary gives you the freedom to move closer to the edge and look out? Well, the same thing happens when you establish boundaries in your business.
How do You Know You Need to Set a Boundary?
Well, first you need to decide how you will spend your time. Every time you make a decision to do something, you make a decision not to do something else. Each time you make a decision about how you will spend your time, you create a ripple effect that impacts your entire life. The question is, are you going to maintain a sense of control by establishing clear boundaries?
Knowing Your Limits
Start by paying attention to yourself and how you feel when doing each thing in your day. Is it something you enjoy or can accept or does it make you feel uncomfortable or stressed? Your feelings about what you spend your time doing are your feelings and no one else’s and therefore it is your responsibility to set appropriate boundaries for you. By paying attention you will be able to determine what your limits are.
Understanding How You Feel
Three key feelings will indicate a clear boundary needs to be set: discomfort, guilt and resentment. The feeling may come about because of a person, a situation you are in, or an area of your life. If you feel any of these frequently around the person, life area or situation you probably need to set clear boundaries around it.
For example, you may have a friend or colleague who you feel takes advantage of you. Or, perhaps a spouse or parent who has set expectations for you that you never seem to be able to meet. Practice saying “no” to people so they learn that you aren’t going to drop everything for them. Let them know, kindly, that you have other priorities that you need to attend to at this time.
Set Clear Boundaries to Avoid Distractions
The biggest time thief of all is distractions. Gloria Mark who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine, says it takes almost 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds) to return to the original task after an interruption.
Common distractions include colleagues dropping by your office, checking email, checking social media, and accepting phone calls.
To manage these try time-blocking. Set up two times per day when you will check emails and return calls, say between 9 and 10 am and again between 3 and 4 pm. Then time-block the rest of your work for the day between 10 am and 3 pm. Let co-workers know that you will be happy to chat with them, but not during the time that you are focusing on your work or meeting with clients. Putting time-blocks into your calendar at the beginning of the week will allow you to be more productive for the entire week than if you do it each day. You will also feel like you are in much better control of your days.
Managing Your To-Do List
Manage your to-do list by doing the following:
- prioritize your tasks
- are there any you can defer?
- which ones can you delegate?
- delete the ones that carry forward day after day without being completed
- what is left is what you need to accomplish during the day or week. These are the ones you need to time block.
Start 2019 off right by establishing clear boundaries for yourself and those around you. The result will be higher productivity, higher self-worth, and more time to do what you enjoy with your friends and family.
For tips on how to overcome procrastination, check out our blog post “Are You a Procrastinator? Do it Now”
Signing off for 2018. We wish you and yours a happy, healthy and profitable 2019.