Have you heard this greeting being used lately? It represents the current challenge of boundaryless days where one day merges into the next.
Until the limitations imposed by this pandemic, many people operated under the illusion of having a personal life and a professional life. When people went into an office and then back to their home, the physical spaces created a way of setting boundaries. In reality, many people stopped having that boundary when their phones gave their workplaces 24/7 access.
Right now, people are navigating the challenge of managing a life lived at home. No travel, no going out, nothing to differentiate one day from another. But just because you aren’t in different physical spaces doesn’t mean that you can’t have boundaries.
Here are some considerations for boundary setting:
- Create starting and ending routines for your workday. The routines are a way of signaling the boundary for yourself. An example of a morning routine is to wake up, make your bed, brush your teeth, get dressed, drink tea, meditate and exercise. In the evening, write down what’s on your mind, the three things that need your focus the next day, and a high / low moment. Then power down your devices and turn off notifications.
- Learn to say no. Even though it can be scary to say, “No” is a complete sentence. We all have limits. You only have so much time, energy, and attention to go around. Choose wisely where you will spend it and be ok saying “no” everywhere else.
- Be courageous. Get clear on what you value, need and desire. Then speak up and have a conversation with those around you to explain your boundaries. A colleague shared that she told her family, she was done “being their Google.” That meant when they were looking for the peanut butter, a missing shirt or the TV remote they could use their own eyes and find what was missing. She was no longer in the search and find business.
- Make space for yourself. The impacts of what we are collectively experiencing are different from one person to another. Whether it’s a few extra minutes in bed in the morning, a cup off coffee in your car (for quiet thinking time away from the family) or headphones, music and staring out the window, find a way to give yourself some reflection time that works for you. Consider these three questions: what will be different when this is done; what will be my place; and based on what I see, how can I contribute to the world?
If you are feeling a new level of exhaustion and overwhelm, remember that boundaries create space to rejuvenate. Boundaries serve as filters that permit what is acceptable in life and what is not acceptable. Boundaries protect and define you. As our mentor always said, “you teach people how to treat you.” What are you teaching people in your home life and in your work life?