Written by: Alice Dartnell, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
As an entrepreneur or leader, you're no stranger to the whirlwind of responsibilities that come with this – juggling tasks, meetings, endless to-do lists, making decisions, people ‘picking your brains’, supporting others… the list goes on!
It can make your days feel like a chaotic race against the clock so no doubt you are always on the lookout for productivity solutions.
Well, one that often goes overlooked is setting boundaries! This is a simple yet incredibly powerful idea that will transform your time management game!
Boundaries are the superpower to being the best You that You can be. Boundaries are like broccoli. When set up and prepared properly, it’s actually tasty and good for your health too!
In this article, we'll explore why boundaries are crucial for your time management and provide you with five practical tips to seamlessly integrate them into your day-to-day!
Why do boundaries even matter?
I like to view boundaries as my set of stabilisers or guardrails, helping me keep on track and going in the right direction. They help guide me towards the balanced, productive, fulfilled life I aim for (especially important after my burnout in 2019).
By establishing clear parameters on your time and energy, you create a foundation for effective and positive time management and energy management, as well as your wellbeing. And this is why they are so important!
Boundaries allow you to:
Preserve your energy, preventing burnout, and not give too much to the detriment to yourself
Enhance your productivity by concentrating on the high-priority tasks, rather than the day-to-day fluff because you are not trying to do everything to please everyone
Maintain a healthy balance between pushing for your goals and knowing when to pull back to rest and recharge
Improve relationships, because you do things from a place of love rather than “I should…”
Cultivate clear expectations of what you can do and give, as well as what you expect in return
Sounds good right, but you probably already knew that boundaries are important – it’s knowing how to set them that is often the stumbling block, so let’s look at how to do this.
Implementing boundaries: 5 practical tips
Here are my 5 practical tips for setting boundaries for effective time management and productivity.
Tip 1: Design your schedule
Craft a weekly schedule that works for you by including blocks of time for the things you need to operate at your best. I call these your “non-negotiables”. Everyone’s different so decide on yours and block them into your calendar (mine include my morning ritual, regular exercise, daily walking). This is a boundary because these are the things you don’t negotiate on (hence ‘non-negotiables’). If you need, feel free to move them, but whatever you do, do not take them out of your schedule.
Tip 2: Communicate your boundaries
We live in a well-connected, global digital world which is amazing, but it can also mean we feel the pressure to be constantly ‘on’, especially as business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs. It’s tempting to instantly reply to every ping and ring of our phones, but don’t! instead establish designated times for checking emails and responding to messages. If this makes you feel uncomfortable that someone is going to have to wait more than 5 minutes for a response, then communicate these boundaries to your contacts to manage expectations and stick on your auto-responder.
Tip 3: Regularly review and adjust
Your needs and priorities may change over time, so periodically review your boundaries to ensure they continue to support your goals and wellbeing. Be proactive and open to adjusting them as necessary to stay aligned as things evolve.
Tip 4: Create a distraction-free zone
One of the biggest time management and boundary complaints I hear from people is the issue with distractions. But we actually have more control over our distractions than we think. Think about what kind of things are invading your boundaries and work up some solutions. For example, designate a workspace where you can concentrate and feel creative, let your team know that when you're in ‘the zone’ you're focusing on important tasks and to only interrupt if urgent. If necessary, physically take yourself away from the distraction and put your phone on ‘do not disturb.
Tip 5: Learn to say no
And I have left the best to last here… learn to say no! If that sound harsh then try my “not now” instead (sounds nicer right?). Always check your diary before committing to something, whether that’s a social invite or work project. Be empowered to say “I would love to but can’t right now” then offer an alternative. And ensure whatever you are saying yes to aligns with your values, boundaries and how you like to use your time.
As Eva Medilek writes in her article Overcooked Broccoli and Setting Boundaries published in Brainz Magazine on 17th March 2021, “Saying no to the needs of others and a yes to your needs, does not make you a mean, bad person. It makes you a happy, healthy, well-rounded friend, co-worker, family member and all-around good human."
Setting boundaries is a productivity game-changer
In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, setting boundaries is a productivity game-changer. By consciously defining limits on your time and energy, and how much you can give, you empower yourself to manage your tasks more efficiently, boost productivity, and lead a more fulfilling life both personally and professionally. This is what I call creating a “life by design”.
Don't be dictated by everyone else – take charge by setting boundaries because your time and energy is a precious resource!
Alice Dartnell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Alice Dartnell is a time management and energy management coach, trainer, speaker, and author, who is passionate about empowering people to create a life by design, not by default! Known as an expert in time management and energy management, Alice doesn’t teach time management in the traditional sense. Instead, she focuses on the importance of energy management and mindset as the way to improve time management. Alice believes that time management actually isn’t about managing time! Instead, it is about managing you, other people, your tasks and most importantly, your energy! She works with individuals on a 121 basis, as well as through programmes, workshops, and courses. Additionally, she delivers training to org