Boundaries and Better Results

One of the reasons we reach the end of the day and don't feel like we have accomplished what is most important is because we don't set boundaries. We make task lists, but don't work to protect the time and energy required to get them done. We allow casual conversations to expand beyond the "minute" they were supposed to take, and then blame the other person for interrupting our day. We grab the TV remote at the end of the day, expecting to watch a few minutes of mindless entertainment, but seem surprised when two hours have passed and we are still sitting on the couch. We just don't set boundaries.

To achieve more of the results you want on a daily basis, set boundaries for all the elements of your day over which you have significant control, including:

  • Time you will spend watching TV, movies, or just web surfing
  • Your willingness to say "Yes" to new commitments
  • Amount of time you will spend checking and responding to email. You will be amazed how it forces you to purposefully send/respond instead of just scrolling through your black hole of an inbox.
  • Length of time you will allow others to interrupt your day. Unless it's an emergency on their part, be more proactive about minimizing the distraction. Tell them you have 3 minutes... and start a timer or even look at your watch. Sounds abrasive, but tell them if it will take longer than 3 minutes, you want to set a time later when you can give it your full attention.
  • Time you will spend thinking before acting. A significant amount of time is wasted in our days as we wait for the moment of brilliance to pop into our heads-and then we will take action. A better approach is to start working, and least get a working solution in place. You can improve on it later.
  • The level of quality required for certain tasks. A clean house is a good thing, but just how perfect does it need to be? You've read and reread the report 4 times... send it already! Spending too much time on tasks like these (no boundaries) is usually a sign that you don't want to deal with something more important.

Most importantly, communicate these boundaries to the important people in your life. Don't be surprised when they are supportive. Your lack of boundaries has probably been negatively affecting your relationship with them.