Time management tips will make you more effective, so long as you learn how to relate assertively without lapsing into aggressiveness. The line may be a thin one, but keeping on the right side of it can protect you from painful backlashes.
What is your personal experience with setting boundaries so far? Take a quick quiz to see where you stand:
Will Your Boundaries Be Respected?
• T/F __ I resist setting boundaries because I fear backlashes.
• T/F __ I don't get mad easily, but when I do, watch out!
• T/F __ I count on anger to put teeth in my boundaries.
• T/F __ Somehow, my boundaries never seem to stick.
• T/F __ I could maintain my boundaries easier if I didn't feel guilty.
Did you answer true to any of these? They serve as valuable signals for common pitfalls that lead to circular efforts and frayed nerves.
1. Do not set boundaries out of anger.
If you are not ready to set a boundary calmly, you are not ready to set it at all. Avoid the temptation to work off of righteous indignation. No matter how you may rationalize an angry ultimatum, others will rightly feel blamed, and resent it. You may well encounter punishing behavior, feel inwardly guilty, and revert back to the same unsatisfying routines.
Instead, work through any current crisis as calmly as possible. Let others know you will be thinking about ways to avoid similar situations in the future, and start creating a game plan.
2. Accept full responsibility for your end.
You will find it easiest to set boundaries if you take full responsibility for any role you play in becoming overextended. Make it clear that you will be changing your time choices accordingly, and request others' cooperation.
3. When tested, keep your cool.
Yes, you may encounter some grumbling or lack of follow-through in others. But by remaining reasonable yourself, you have not provided others with a rationale for acting out. It will be easier for you to stick to your guns, and allow them wrestle with their own resistance.
In other words, by acting fairly, you create your own comfort zone. The less reactive you are to others, the more quickly their testing behavior will subside.
If you find you slip back into old patterns, don't become harsh with yourself. Simply pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on track. With practice, setting boundaries calmly and effectively will become the new normal. Assimilating these lessons will help you distinguish between assertiveness and aggressiveness on a gut level. Then, you can identify overkill in others' bluster, and refuse to be coerced into giving away your valuable time.
Now, what is your next move in using smart boundaries to safeguard your time?
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