Time management tips give you power. Setting successful time boundaries is one of the most significant time management skills you can develop. Once you cultivate the understanding of how to say “no” to distractions, and make it stick, you own your time.
Boundaries fail all the time, of course. How often do you personally approach setting boundaries with reluctance, with undue force, or avoid the challenge altogether? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Your key to success lies in sorting 2 things out:
- Where can you put a boundary in place regardless of others’ response?
- Where is it not only helpful but also essential to negotiate with others?
Most boundaries require both independent action and negotiating. So it’s for you to distinguish between the two sets of actions. Once you do, you will experience enormous relief! You can then move forward proactively in all areas where that is appropriate, and openly negotiate where you need to. This reduces power-struggling and encourages genuine collaboration.
5 Essential Questions for Effectively Negotiating Time Boundaries
To set effective boundaries, you must identify your priorities, your strengths, and where success will require collaboration. Get ready to negotiate by working with the following 5 questions:
1. What issues are non-negotiable?
Let’s say you need two hours of undisturbed time one day a week to function at your best. Write down exactly how this benefits you and your overall effectiveness. The more you focus on the actual goal, the more creatively you can approach how that goal will be implemented. Don’t confuse firmness with rigidity!
2. Exactly where are you willing to compromise?
Listing typical activities you engage in on a particular day can help you spot what commitments you can delegate, drop or postpone during this two hour private time. Again, keeping your long-range objectives in mind might help you rethink outworn routines.
3. What issues require consensus?
Your commitments help shape your relationships. Respect is just as important as assertiveness when you make big changes. How does your taking a block of undisturbed time affect others’ plans? Make a list of potential problem areas. The boundary won’t be “watertight” until those issues are resolved.
4. What sort of cooperation will be needed?
You may not need cooperation to simply refuse to take calls for one day a week. But you need to have an agreed-upon process to handle emergencies. As you clarify what’s of central importance to you, others’ priorities may become more defined, as well. It’s ideal if you can approach setting boundaries as an opportunity to renew and revitalize relationships.
5. What outcomes can you let go of?
Boundaries are exercises in selective control. Others have the right to try to change your mind (though you don’t need to oblige them). Then again, you may choose to delegate tasks you’d formerly reserved for yourself. When you let go of responsibility, you may forfeit control over the outcome. How will you feel if others become more autonomous? Your boundaries may challenge you to grow in new directions, too!
Any number of win/win options exist. So consider doing some extensive brainstorming before setting boundaries. Then you’ll be well prepared to craft satisfying resolutions.
So, what is your very first step in setting the kinds of boundaries that really give you back your time?