Creating & Holding to Boundaries

Time is a precious commodity!  During times like these it is hard to have enough of it, especially with interruptions and constantly competing priorities!  Even as I sat down to write this today, my time was taken away by a different task on my to do list and an unexpected (but very welcomed) phone call.  However, this is important for me to write and is a TOP priority for me today!  As such, I had to get back to it, what helped me do that was having boundaries.  Boundaries are great tools in keeping us on point, using time effectively, and alleviating the sense of burnout we get by being pulled in too many directions and not being able to feel like we are chipping away at our to do lists.  Three (3) easy ways we can help reduce burnout through boundaries are listed below.

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  1. What Do I Want to Protect? – Space is a great example of a common boundary most of us have wanted at some point in life!  Space, however, can mean many things.  Maybe we need physical space to protect our “personal space,” or perhaps we need space in a relationship, or even space to think through something which is weighing heavily on our minds.  And herein lies the problem.  Space, just like many boundaries, are typically expressed at the surface level, i.e., “I need space!”.  But what is it that we really want?  Digging a bit more deeply and truly specifying what it is you want to create a boundary around leads to the clarity of what we want to protect.  Once we know what we want to protect, we can the protect it.  It is a lot easier to create actions and a plan to put a boundary into place when we know specifically what it is we want to create a boundary around, i.e., 30 minutes every morning, free of interruptions, to write a daily briefing.  Specifying our boundaries, e.g., knowing what we want to protect, WILL alleviate burnout as it makes it easier to create and hold to boundaries which will reduce our feelings of being pulled in too many directions and having too little time to do our work.

    What is truly at the heart of the boundaries you want, e.g., what do you need to protect? Pro tip: the greater the detail, the easier it is for us to define our boundaries.
  1. The Impact of Our Boundaries – Knowing the boundaries we want to put into place is only part of the battle.  Knowing what impact we will have from holding to our boundaries is another.  In other words: “What will holding to this boundary mean for me; what are the personal benefits I get from holding to it?”  When we know what’s in it for us – our why – we inherently motivate ourselves to take action to create our boundaries and hold to them because there is a purpose behind it for us.  Knowing the impact our boundaries have for us WILL reduce burnout as it makes it easier for us to put into place and hold to our boundaries, consequentially reducing our stress and anxiety.

    What impact will creating your desired boundaries have for you?  Pro tip: When we think we have the answer, asking ourselves “What makes that important?” will lead us even deeper to unearth the impact our boundaries have for us.  Moreover, asking this question multiple times takes us deeper and deeper until we get to the true heart of the impact our boundaries have for us.
  1. Creating a Reminder – Another piece of the puzzle for our boundaries is helping ourselves hold to them in the moments we need to.  In other words, setting ourselves up to successfully implement our boundaries when we need to.  Whether it is needing to end a phone call (or even not picking up the phone when it rings) or stop going down a rabbit hole, having a reminder to hold to our boundaries in the moment is greatly helpful!  While we often do this in our minds, having a physical tangible reminder yields much greater success in holding to boundaries because there is an ever-present reminder in our line of sight.  Creating a reminder for us to implement and hold to our boundaries WILL reduce burnout as we will stay more on point, be more productive, and alleviate the feelings of being pulled in too many directions while not getting anything done.

    What is a physical tangible reminder that you will see constantly, i.e., sticky notes posters, whiteboards, etc.?  What do you want that reminder to be?  Pro tip: using what is at the heart of our boundaries and the impact it creates for us are deeper more motivating reminders than just writing our boundaries themselves.

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