Creating Boundaries to Support YouJan 25, 2021
We’ve just about made it through the first month of the year and it’s been a busy one. Have you been consistently making progress towards your goals? How about those self care goals? It can be a tough balancing act to manage professional goals and personal goals. How can I put as much time in as possible to reach my professional goals and still have time to take care of myself?
Enter our boundaries. Boundaries are such an important part of goal setting. Realistic goals and progress is what we are aiming for, not crazy mad woman or mad man style progress. Working 24/7 doesn’t get you any further towards your goal than working 7-8 intentional hours each day.
So how can we create better boundaries? In this world of instant gratification and instant response, it’s important to protect your time. Look at your routine and typical day and think about what time you want to make sacred “you” time. Then plan around it. No matter what your responsibilities at work and at home, you can still find some amount of time to take care of yourself.
Set Aside Time for You
Oftentimes we plan out our week without leaving ourselves time for us. Whether it’s that workout you want to get in first thing in the morning, a quiet breakfast with a cup of coffee or winding down with a tv show and cup of tea before bed, block it out. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, commit to taking that time. Block out your calendar, turn off your notifications, whatever you have to do! If anyone wants to reach you during that time, you’re unavailable.
Make Your Phone Work for You
Our phones are how we work, stay in touch, read, share, etc. But they can also be a stress inducer and make us feel like we’re always on call and always accessible. Even if you want to be on your phone for personal reasons, turn off your email, text, and other notifications when you don’t want to be bothered for work. Without those notifications or red bubbles, you won’t be as tempted to check in before bed or right when you wake up. If you really want to avoid being drawn into your phone, turn off your social media notifications all the time. It’s a game changer!
Communicate Your Boundaries Often
It’s important to communicate our boundaries to others so we don’t constantly have internal friction when others are pinging, calling or trying us during our “off time”. It can be a tough mindset to adopt, but you must be selfish with your time. Feeling guilty about sticking to those boundaries? Flip the script and imagine someone is communicating this to you.
When someone tells you they can’t make a meeting on a certain day or time, what goes through your head? You likely just check your calendar for alternative days that work without much more thought. We can feel like we are letting someone down if we aren’t available exactly when they are. Give yourself permission to say no and communicate your boundaries to that other person. “I can’t do 6pm on Tuesday. Does Wednesday at 11am work?” Chances are you can find another time that works for both of you.
Be Consistent in Reinforcing Them to Others
The more consistent you are in your boundaries, the more people will respect them and instinctively enforce them for you. “Morning calls usually work better for her so I’ll suggest a morning time.” “She doesn’t usually reply to texts so I’ll email her the details and see if we can jump on a call.” “He never replies to slack before 9am so I’ll wait til he’s on to shoot a note over.”
If you want these replies from your colleagues or work contacts, start to show them through your actions and decisions. Don’t reply to the text they send at 10pm - shoot them an email the next day to let them know you received their message and would be happy to further discuss. Instead of instantly replying to the Slack at 7:30am, wait until you get settled in at 9am and then reply. Just as you are building your boundaries for you, you are teaching others how to best communicate with you.
You can’t create long lasting boundaries overnight. Start small and grow from there. Habits take time to build, and boundaries are a part of our routine. If you are working until 8pm every night, can you work until 7:30pm max each night this coming week? If you never take lunch away from your desk, can you block out your calendar each day this week for just 15 minutes to get up from your desk and take a break with some food? Start small and then build from there. If your goal is to end work at 6pm every day, keep ending early each week until it becomes your norm.
As we get busier and busier in 2021, it’s important to carve out the important time we need to refresh, refocus and take care of ourselves. We need boundaries to grow and maintain our mental health. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, look at your boundaries. Are you sticking to them? What’s changed in your schedule that you should work on adjusting? Boundaries are a good thing - create the ones that will best support you!