Lately, I’ve had several conversations with people craving better boundaries.
Our work/home boundaries have become incredibly blurry and this can be hard to navigate.
Here’s what people have shared:
Dual-income partners both working from home; sharing office and kitchen space;
“My husband wanted us to eat lunch together every day, but I’m an introvert and feel like I have no space to myself with us both working from home. I just want to be alone in the house every now and then!”
Kids doing remote school from home;
“I get nothing done. By the time I’ve cleaned up breakfast, I get about five minutes of work done before my son is on break. Then thirty minutes later, he wants a snack. I’m just starting to focus when he’s on another break. I only get twenty minutes of work done and then it’s time to prep for lunch. The day goes by in a blur with constant interruptions and little fragments of time when I’m trying to get things done. It reminds me of having a newborn. I can’t explain where my time goes. It just goes.”
Living alone dealing with constant zoom calls and blurry boundaries between work and personal life;
“I have zoom calls throughout the day, sometimes I’ll have thirty or forty minutes between zooms but by the time I stand up, walk around, I barely have time to get anything done before the next zoom call. I can’t focus long enough on a given task, my day is too fragmented and filled with zoom meetings.”
Because everything is topsy turvy these days, it’s even more important to set clear boundaries.
Boundaries help us feel safe, protected and confident in how we want to spend our time, energy and attention.
Pretty much every child psychologist I know agrees that kids need consistency and clear boundaries. We’re no different.
When you say one thing and do another, or don’t take the time to get clear on what you want and need, it sends mixed signals to your psyche. Your brain wastes time and energy trying to figure out what to do.
Boundaries are like little rules to help you feel better. Think of your boundaries like a cute little hedge you planted around your precious self and your needs.
During this time of uncertainty, we all need healthy hedges!
Boundary creep – like unwanted ivy in your hedge.
Often, we set a boundary but then something creeps back in. Other people encroach on our boundary and we don’t hold a firm line, or we cave on our own boundary.
It’s like unwanted ivy creeping into your beautifully manicured hedge. Sure, ivy is nice and can look pretty, but that doesn’t mean you want it poking through your dang hedge!
Recently, I talked to a woman who heads operations for a large company. She complained how the constant zoom calls sprinkled throughout her day were making her ineffective. I asked if she could have one day a week that was “zoom free” for everyone on her team. She responded that the management team had instituted a “Zoom Free Fridays” policy a couple of months ago.
She only got TWO “Zoom Free Fridays,” here’s why…
The first two weeks were amazing, she got so much done on Fridays and absolutely loved being so efficient! And then, the third week, the management team reached out and said; “Let’s just have a quick call amongst the senior leaders this Friday, since we know Fridays are open.”
They re-negged on their own boundary.
Shortly thereafter, other teams started having zoom calls on Fridays too. And now, this woman’s Fridays are chock full of zoom meetings once again.
Boundary creep starts small and innocuous…then it spreads.
Just like slow spreading vines, boundary creep often starts small and innocuous (“a quick call, just this Friday.”) but then it expands like an overgrown weed and before you know it, the boundary has been obliterated.
Your neatly manicured hedge starts looking like an overgrown jungle.
So, if you decide your new boundary is going to be – No work before 9am or after 6pm – then you need to STICK TO IT!!
Be sure to manage expectations and communicate your boundary so people aren’t accidentally creeping on it. Once you’ve done that, hold firm.
You can also set (and break!) boundaries with yourself.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized I was consuming too much caffeine and refined sugar and it was zapping my energy. So I set a boundary to eliminate caffeine and sugar from my diet.
The first 48 hours I felt amazing! And then…you guessed it…boundary creep.
First, it was a latte because my hubby was going to get special coffee (how could I say no to that kind offer!). Then it was dessert at someone’s house because they baked something yummy. Next thing I know, I gave up on the boundary altogether.
When you set a boundary with yourself and break it, it can lower your momentum.
Let’s say you decide that you’re going to set a firm boundary and go to bed (LIGHTS OUT!) by 10pm every night. On the fourth night, you stay up late watching Cobra Kai, looking at Instagram or watching the SNL parody of the debates on youtube (I did that one).
It doesn’t feel good because 1) now you’re not getting enough sleep and 2) you broke a commitment to yourself.
Breaking your own boundaries feels icky.
Imagine you have an inner child who is asking you to take better care of them.
This inner child will be disappointed if you break the boundaries you set with yourself. He or she is wanting clear guidance, direction, safety and protection from you.
You are the CEO of self.
You are the boss of your own world (even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes, you really do have more control than you might imagine).
You get to decide what stays and what goes.
One woman in our group coaching program needed to set better boundaries with her mother-in-law who was exhibiting a lot of anxious energy. Once she took some space away from her MIL, she felt recharged immediately.
Another woman found zoom calls with family to be really draining because everyone was complaining about the President and getting scared about the election. So she stopped joining the calls. (what a radical idea!)
You can say no. You can opt-out. You don’t have to explain or justify.
When you set a boundary and stick to it, you’ll notice that you get a boost of energy and self-confidence. It feels GOOD. Really good.
Sure, you may be scared of disappointing others, but then you’ll feel giddy as you realize you don’t have to go to that meeting or join that call. When you say no to something you didn’t want to do, you may feel a sense of exhilaration and freedom, like a kid playing hookie from school. It’s liberating – give it a shot for yourself and see.
Once you set a boundary, it will create S P A C E.
Don’t give away your precious newly found space!!!
Be sure to use your new time and energy to do nothing or spend it doing something that will recharge and nourish you rather than just giving it away to something else that drains you.
Let’s set some new boundaries, together!
Get curious, tune into your heart right now and ask yourself…
Hmmm….where in my life do I need better boundaries right now? Between work and home? In my physical environment? In relationships with my partner, kids or extended family? With my boss? With my own physical body and my health?
Or perhaps you already set a boundary, but you haven’t been upholding it and realize you want to re-commit and stay firm on a pre-existing boundary.
Take a moment to write down a new boundary you would like to set. Leave a comment below and share it with us!
I’ll read all your comments and really do want to know what kinds of boundaries you’re going to set.
If you want, you can write out your new boundary as a commitment statement (here are instructions on how to do that).
Here are two of mine:
Today, I commit to setting a loving and healthy boundary to nourish my body throughout the work day by taking short walks outside every two to three hours. I commit to focusing on work in the morning, and telling my daughter she can only interrupt me after lunch.
What are yours? Share them here – I really would love to read yours.
May we all learn to set more healthy, clear and loving boundaries so that we can nourish and thrive in this new environment.
P.S. I’ll be leading a free (LIVE) class on Insight Timer every Monday 8:30 – 9:30am PST to go through our Weekly Planning Guide to 3x Your Productivity.
If you want to get more focused and have a simple system to prioritize what’s most important while carving out time to recharge throughout the week –
Hope to see you there!