Need to Set Boundaries? | Start HereJan 17, 2023
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It’s 5pm on a Friday night of a long weekend. You have worked all month at clearing this time to celebrate your son’s birthday. You are just about to log out of your computer, and your client emails you an “emergency” task that will take you at least 8 hours to fulfill and they need it by Monday at noon.
What do you do?
Or you are AT work in the same scenario and another employee calls in sick canceling all of their shifts for the weekend and you are the only one that could fill them. Are you really??
In your heart, you want to say no, it’s at the tip of your tongue, but then yes comes out, and as you say yes there is a pit in your stomach.
So really what do you do? Boundaries are a tricky thing, and ultimately you are the one responsible for creating them and knocking them down.
If you’ve been a “yes” person all your life then that’s how people know you. You can’t just draw a line in the sand and begin saying no. Well you can, but you won’t be that popular. You first need to declare what those boundaries are to yourself so that you can practice self discipline.
I’m a recovering Yes girl who relapses once in a while. It feels good to help others - It feels amazing to save the day, and I’m not saying give those things up. It’s an amazing quality to give over and above expectations. But if it doesn’t feel okay, if you are letting yourself down somewhere else, that’s not okay. And the person you are serving has no idea there is a problem, cause you take it with a smile and deliver every time.
This is somewhat of an add-on episode to episode 26, Work from home Expectations VS Reality - so if you haven’t listened to that, go back and listen.
There are 2 types of boundaries we will touch on. Personal boundaries and professional boundaries and it is my belief that the two work together to form your clarity boundary statement.
You don’t need to share your statement with anyone. This is something for you that will give you better decision making power.
If you don’t have boundaries in place, other people will always have more control over your schedule than you do.
If you answer a text from your client at 5am or on the weekend, your client will be signaled that you are open then and will continue to do it. This is fine if you’ve predetermined those are your working hours.
On the personal side, what do you want your life to look like and feel like? How would a perfect day or week make you feel?
Hold onto that. Write that down.
Boundaries do more than ensure you have time freedom, they also improve the work you do, the respect you get, and your overall quality of life.
Many of us are service oriented. We go above and beyond to keep clients happy as a means to keep clients and income coming in. Definitely those are best practices to live by, however add boundaries and you will be even more valuable.
Boundaries will help ensure higher quality work from you.
So what are some simple changes you can make today?
Start with your smartphone
I have a personal policy that I do not put work apps on my smartphone. And It’s always set to silent mode and Do not disturb. ALWAYS. No slack, no emails, no teamwork and very limited social apps are on my phone.
Inside the apps on my phone absolutely no notifications are turned on. That way I hear no bleeps, bings, and see no red notifications on my phone with the amount of things “I’ve missed”
There are certain windows I change this for of course but when I’m on break, or away from my computer, I’m away from work . That’s a personal boundary that anchors my professional boundary with my clients.If I see it, I KNOW I just can’t let it sit there without responding.
That’s on ME , not the client.
Give yourself a smartphone boundary checklist and implement it. You will immediately have more time, be more productive. To follow YOUR work plan. To get things DONE before adding more TODOs
Set yourself an indulgent phone time. Maybe once or twice a day, use it however you want, or don’t, it’s up to you.
If you are used to being an immediate responder, challenge yourself to check in every 90 minutes.
When you are not working, turn all notifications off. That way when you are away, you are away. If someone is so impatient that they can’t wait 24 hours for you because it’s Sunday, it’s probably someone you don’t want to work with anyway.
Professional boundaries are more centered around your scope of practice.
What are the things you primarily do for clients and want to do? It's important for you to know what you are an expert in and what you won’t do or don’t want to do.
There is a TON of value in learning and never stop learning, however there is a time also to lean in to learn deeper into a focus point. This provides brain capacity.
The more you need to flip the toggle switch from task type to task type, the more mental energy we use. The more mental energy we use the harder it is to produce quality work after 4- 5 hours.
If you do freelance or virtual assistance work Think about a client that asked you to do something for them that was out of your scope. Did it energize you? Did it zap your energy? Did you love it, or did you sing from the rooftops when it was over and cross your fingers they never ever asked you for that again.
There is no wrong answer -
At times I feel guilty with my boundary setting, but I need to remind myself that the recovering people pleaser inside of me doesn’t need to feel that.
We train how people can treat us, so if you are in a place where you know you have a lot of work ahead of you to get to where you want to be- I get you- I know that feeling. Start where you can and continuously work to where you want to be. I promise it’s worth it, and everyone wins
Give yourself time to untrain the people you feel are infringing on your boundaries. You’ve let them in.
Get used to being told you are busy all the time.
Having boundaries will make you appear busy all the time. The difference is you will not show up late, frazzled, or scattered. You will show up the professional you are with a calm, clear mind. Practice your scheduling well and it will remind you that you have ample time for your life activities and desires beyond the computer screen.
Setting boundaries requires the ability to have your own personal policy written just for you
and it’s helpful to have some “kind declining and boundary setting templates” written and ready for when needed.
Time really is a gift we can’t take for granted. It’s our only resource that is unrenewable.
What's one step you will take to set a new healthy boundary for yourself?