Time management tips cover every aspect of how you use your time. All the energy you spend on deciding the best way to utilize every minute is well spent. However, to truly exercise power over your day and over your life, you simply must know how to set boundaries to safeguard your time. And then you need to know how to keep them in place.
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:
• In what circumstances can you enforce a boundary without others' cooperation?
• When do you have to negotiate to ensure that your boundary will be maintained?
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.
Earlier articles in this series discuss how to frame boundaries to claim all your proactive power. This article discusses 5 vital questions to help you anchor your new boundary with effective negotiation.
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 aspects of my boundary are firm and not subject to compromise?
For example, perhaps you require a two hour session where no one disturbs you every week. Make a note of all the ways this supports you and your productivity. As you train your focus on this goal, you are motivated to come up with creative ways to ensure your needs will be met. Remember not to confuse being firm with being rigid!
2. Specifically what points can you negotiate without undermining your highest priorities?
At this point, it is useful to list your day to day activities. Identify which ones you can let go of, put off or delegate to others to safeguard the two hour block of time you are setting aside. Always keep your overall goals in mind to encourage you to think creatively and to be decisive.
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?