Your success requires time management, and time management requires sticking to your priorities and making tough decisions every day. These days, many of us are working harder and putting in longer hours, just to get by. Do you know the feeling? The danger, of course, is that we lose ourselves in our work.
You alone are in a position to decide what balance you want to strike between your work and your home. Whatever decision you make, you then actualize and maintain this choice with a boundary.
Once you know what kind of balance you want to strike, then you also have decisions to make about the kind of boundary you will have. Is it non-negotiable? Is it something that you can be flexible about? Will it apply all the time and to everyone, or are there exceptions?
And then the final thing you’ll need to consider is making sure that your boundary is in sync with your core values, and that you are communicating it clearly to everyone who needs to know about it.
So, imagine that you want to have a strong boundary between work and home. How do things like your personal needs and style, your communication skills, and the quality of your support system factor in? Here’s a sampling of 3 pros and 3 cons to consider, as you think about setting your boundary:
1. Your schedule is a lot less likely to be disrupted by other’s urgency if you discourage “emergency” calls from home or work. When boundaries are porous and you are constantly reacting to urgency, that can lead to distraction, overwhelm, and rash decisions that undermine your effectiveness and erode others’ trust.
2. Remember that when you encourage those who are qualified to handle emergencies on their own, you are promoting their confidence and competence. This is a real win-win situation!
3. Strong boundaries reduce outside distraction. This can give a huge boost to your focus, flow, and personal productivity, whether you’re at work or at home.
1. If you can’t successfully delegate the management of a situation or demand, then maintaining a strict boundary may mean that those problems escalate and ultimately consume even more time.
2. If the transition from work to home activities is an easy one for you, then maintaining rigid distinctions may actually discourage creative solutions that could enrich both areas of your life.
3. Regimenting roles too rigidly can sometimes discourage cooperative enterprises. More flexible partnerships in which responsibilities are shared and differing strengths are pooled, may help you discover time-saving opportunities that are to everyone’s benefit.
What’s best for you? That’s what really counts, in the end. There’s no right or wrong here — just what works for you. So, do you find yourself nodding strongly at one position or another?
Ready to try a time boundary on for size? Here are additional questions and ideas to consider as you move ahead:
• What do I want to have time for?
• What can wait?
• What can be delegated?
• Who does what, and when?
Discuss your evolving ideas about your new time boundaries with everyone involved, so that people aren’t surprised.
Answering questions like these helps you prioritize, clarify lines of responsibility, and learn more about your preferred work style and possible time challenges.
Take all the time you need to sort out the specifics. You and those close to you benefit by clarifying your roles right now — it short-circuits potential conflicts down the road. And, with what you learn, you can develop contingency plans that will lessen the possibility of straining relations in the heat of the moment (i.e. when you least need conflict).
Your reward, as you clarify, establish, and maintain your time boundaries, is heightened productivity, improved communication and effective backup plans. In a very real sense, the boundaries you establish will direct your energies and shape your life.
When you put these time skills to work, you automatically gain more positive control over your time. Just watch how it affects your energy and attitude!
So, what’s your next step to create more effective boundaries and find more time?