How to Create Better Boundaries for Productivity
I get this question all the time: “How do I create better boundaries?”
Clients who come to me are searching for strategies and systems that they can implement to ditch the overwhelm of all the to-do’s and commitments that are on their plate. They want to waste less time, become better at time management, and create clear structures in their work/business so they finally feel in control and “get everything done.” They want the answers quickly because they are nearing a place called “at capacity” which, once reached, quickly leads to burnout.
Is this sounding like you?
There are lots of people out there talking about boundaries, how to implement them, and why they are so important. And rightfully so; this is a critical topic because most of us could have better boundaries. But this is not going to be your standard post about the things you’ve heard about boundaries multiple times before.
This post is literally going to give you the mindset shifts that you can implement to actually begin creating boundaries that stick, for real. Plus you will actually learn how to get clear on your criteria for boundaries so you can start reaping all the benefits!
Either you have boundaries or burnout.
Burnout is a disease caused by the societal and learned beliefs. These beliefs tell us that we need to work really hard and we need to work long hours all the time if we want to be successful. These beliefs tell us that, especially as women, that we need to show up for the people around us. We need to always be helpful, but never ask for help, yet feeling tired or at capacity means you are weak. These beliefs tell us that a strong woman doesn’t let others know when she is struggling, because if everyone else is managing, she should be able to as well.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Burnout exists on a spectrum. Simply feeling like you pushed through the day, having a little breakdown from overwhelm, or feeling like you don’t have time to relax can be a form of burnout. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the more serious cases, such as passing out due to exhaustion. However, god forbid any of us actually admit to being burnt out. Of course burnout is not something you want, but we need to be talking about it when it is happening, in order to deconstruct the negative connotations.
If you feel like you don’t have “enough” time, you always feel like you are running behind your to-do list, or you feel like you could breakdown into tears at any moment from the stress of trying to hold it all together, you may be nearing burnout or experiencing the phenomenon of being “at capacity.”
Burnout comes from lack of boundaries. If you have clear boundaries set in concrete and not sand, you literally have the ability to create a burnout free zone and magically have more time.
Three Boundary Blocks
Here are three common mindset blocks that prevent us from implementing clear boundaries and instead enable us to invite “time-thieves” into our lives.
Block One: You have a belief that you need to show up and help everyone.
Block one looks like: “Sure, I can do that for you,” even though the thought of putting this extra thing on your plate makes you want to burst into tears.
Uncovering and shifting this belief:
There is a lack of self-love or self-worth. There is a belief that you need to show up for everyone and everything else first, before yourself. You let other people control your time and not by any fault of your own. You most likely believe that showing up for everyone is your duty, and implementing boundaries in this area doesn’t even come to mind. Shifting this belief comes down to practicing self-love and solidifying your self-worth standards so you determine what and for whom you are willing and able to show up.
Block Two: You have a belief that you have to do things to keep the peace.
Block two looks like: “She’d probably be mad at me if I cancelled now.”
Uncovering and shifting this belief:
You may be disconnected from your relationship with yourself and therefore feel driven by external validation or expectations. Either you overcommit and say yes or maybe to things, even though you know you don’t really have the time or the want to show up, or you don’t even know what you want. Shifting this is about deepening your relationship with yourself and getting crystal clear on your wants and needs. Therefore, you are making decisions based on your intentions as opposed to what other people think you should do.
Block Three: You have a belief that you need to always be “achieving” or productive.
Block three looks like: “I never have enough time. I feel like I don’t get a moment for myself.”
You are on the hamster wheel, feeling the need to constantly be busy and productive, and taking a break potentially makes you feel anxious. If you are someone who has a hard time sitting still and doing nothing makes you feel lazy, this one's for you.
Uncovering and shifting this belief:
This underlying block comes from the belief system of needing to constantly be doing productive things that help you achieve your goals. When you are not doing such activities, you feel lazy, anxious, or stressed. This belief creates a block from having the balance you desire in your life because of the negative emotions that come up when you try to turn-off and actually slow down. This is where intentional boundaries come into play, to install a new belief and create your desired balance.
Be the Architect
Boundaries are a beautiful thing. Especially as women, dominant narratives create a lot of pressure around needing to show up for others, putting ourselves last, and not complaining about any of it. Although these are shifting, boundaries still tend to be a wary topic. You know you need to have them, and you want to have them, but actually creating and setting them feels a big jumble of scrabble words. You have the tools and information, but how can you have clarity on your boundaries when there are so many different scenarios?
Let’s dive into a mindset shift; setting and implementing boundaries is like building your beautiful castle.
You have your land (in other words, your body, mind, and spirit) and you are making it yours.
When you were little, this land was made up of expansive fields and wildflowers. There was a carefree energy. However, the land was completely open for absolutely anyone to enter. This is where the people around you start teaching you life lessons, which inherently begin to construct your belief system. They say things like, don’t do this, and always say thank you, and never be rude. *Insert your beliefs here* … and yes, the list is long.
As you got older, your land continued to be formed by what you learned and heard. You most likely created a defense mechanism towards the beliefs that triggered you, which often looks like anger, frustration, sadness, pulling back and so on. In terms of our analogy, you were hiding in the forest, trying to “attack” the people coming into your land, as opposed to creating your home and building your healthy walls.
Coming back to our initial castle… boundaries are your construction of your beautiful home. Of course, this is not a physical home, but these boundaries begin to shape your reality and build your desired life.
Boundaries are your walls, pathways, fences, and decorations that determine who and what is allowed to come in. This includes everything from work, tasks, people, commitments, relationships, positive or negative comments, activities and so on.
Your boundaries are the criteria for how you are spending your time. In turn, they become the map for how you are building your life.
Boundaries are a beautiful thing because they imply you taking control. They are not about keeping people out or being mean; they are about knowing how you want to be showing up in your life and committing to let that information be your map to decision making.
Three Aligned Actions to Clearing & Creating Boundaries
Set your intentions
Setting your intentions is the first step to creating boundaries. Your intentions are the things that are important to you and determine how you want to be showing up in your life. This includes your values, your standards, your passions, and your priorities.
As you begin to get clarity surrounding your intentions, start by asking yourself what is important to you in life. How do you want to be spending your time? How do you want to feel in your day to day life? What tasks and activities do you want to be doing, and why?
The practice of setting your intentions is about fleshing out the vision of your life. Once you have a rough idea of how you want to be spending your time and showing up, you can begin making decisions that are in alignment with that vision.
This is about your relationship with the most important person in the whole entire world. Yup, you guessed it, it’s you.
If you don’t know what your boundaries should be or you don’t know what your intentions are, this is your first step: get to know YOU!
What do you like and dislike? What gets you super excited and lit up? What makes you feel sad or betrayed? What are you willing to accept and where do you draw the line?
There are various ways you can practice cultivating this deeper relationship with yourself. You can begin a journaling practice or shift your current practice towards uncovering who you are and what your desires are. You can take yourself out on dates, spend time in nature, or schedule dedicated time that is for you to hang out with yourself. You can also talk to a counsellor, coach, or therapist.
Regardless of how you do it, go into this experience with the intention of knowing yourself better so you can construct your beautiful castle, based on your desires.
Determine your inner circle
This final point comes down to knowing your priorities, whether that be tasks, expectations or people.
The mindset here is about knowing what things are important to you and whose opinions matter. You can’t be everything for everyone and you can’t do everything all the time. You need to be able to determine what’s a yes and what is a no. In other words, you need to get clear on your priorities.
First of all, this comes back to knowing yourself and knowing your intentions. Those first two points are the guidelines for identifying whether or not something is in alignment for you.
The second point then, is this: determine your inner circle.
Who are the people and what are the things that take top priority for you. This should be a very small list.
It doesn’t mean that other people are not also important to you, but they are simply on a different level. Your inner circle are your very top non-negotiable priorities and the people closest to you whose opinions you value and who love and support you unconditionally.
When it comes to making decisions and determining if the choice is in alignment with you, you can use your inner circle as another criteria. However, be careful. It alway comes down to YOU in the end. Are you at capacity or can you take on this additional task or favour? Are you in alignment with this decision, or are you doing it simply because you have time or feel guilty?
Boundaries are your magic wand
“Boundaries” is the name of the potion for magically creating more time. Taking back your boundaries means taking back your time.
Here’s the system:
You are wanting more time or you feel like you never have enough time? Understood. It’s time to create better boundaries.
Oh, you’ve tried to create boundaries in the past but they never really stick or you don’t know how to create boundaries that are all encompassing? Gotcha, let’s do the mindset work to uncover why the guilt, shame, fear, *insert here* is coming up when you try to implement boundaries.
Then, you get to the point of setting your intentions, deepening your relationship with yourself, and creating your inner circle.
As you move through these steps and do the mindset work to clear the blocks, you are building your castle. You are creating your reality where you do have enough time and you are living in balance.
Are you ready to create better boundaries?
Come hang out with me on Instagram and reach out and DM me with any questions! I’d love to connect with you!
I am offering a limited number of complimentary Clarity Calls for this guest blog post, if you would like help in identifying the number one focus for shifting away from overwhelm and lack of balance, so you can take the next step into your intentional life/business.This is really going to maximise the results you can get from this post, so click here to book in one of the slots: https://declutteredintentions.as.me/claritycall
Meet the author
Olivia Heine, Declutter & Intentional Life Coach
Olivia is a Declutter and Intentional Life Coach, helping ambitious women and soulpreneurs ditch busyness and create time freedom so they achieve more by doing less. Having healed herself from past trauma using her decluttering approach, she now combines that with her Intentionality framework and Aligned Productivity method to help her clients clear what is not serving them in order to create their chillpreneur lives.