First thing we are going to talk about is the type of boundaries needed in order to be your best and to create the life you want.
The major 5 areas are work, your relationship, friends, family and personal time.
For each of you, these areas will look a little differently so it’s important to sit down and really evaluate each area of your life and create boundaries that make sense for you and ultimately help you get closer to whatever personal or career goals you have for yourself.
When it comes to work, it can be hard to determine what boundaries are needed because you have a variety of variables to look at. What type of work do you do? What is your work setting like? What is your position? Who do you have to communicate with in order to do your job? What are the hours like? What is your income? Some of you may be working more than 1 job so it can get even harder.
Whatever your position, look at creating boundaries within these areas:
- Clients or Customers
- Your Time
It’s so important to create boundaries with the people you work with. I’m sure each of us has had situations with a male who pushed the limit and did something to make us uncomfortable or have a had a female overstep their boundaries and play the friend role, letting go of all professionalism and putting you in awkward situations.
So personal boundaries for your co-workers (which also includes your Boss or anyone you come in contact at while at work) should be completely customized based on the individual relationships.
There are 2 ways to communicate your boundaries. Verbally and with your body language or actions. When someone does something that crosses the line, SAY SOMETHING. Say something to them and if need be, say something to the person above you so that it goes on record in case there happen to be issues in the future. I’ve watched too many Lifetime movies to know, you can’t overlook red flags haha.
Be very clear, don’t beat around the bush, say what needs to be said to make sure the person crossing the boundary understands that you will not deal with that type of behavior.
The same way it’s important to have boundaries with your co-workers in order to be able to do your job in a safe space, your clients and customers need boundaries as well. Otherwise, you will be walked on, pulled in different directions and extending yourself when you shouldn’t be.
The thing is, clients and customers prefer to have boundaries as well. It creates a professional environment where expectations are communicated on both ends with allows for zero misunderstandings in the future.
You want to make sure that you are respecting the time of your client or customer and that they are respecting your time in return.
So make a schedule and decide how available you want to be. For example, with my business, I offer 1 on 1 free consultation calls for potential clients who have questions about our services or processes before committing to a contract with us. These calls are 15 minutes long in length and are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the hours of 11 am and 7 pm. I do not make any exceptions. My time is valuable and I stick to a schedule so that I can serve all the people I need to without overextending myself.
When I work with paid clients, I have different schedules for them. I also have a strict policy that all in-person meetings take place at my location and my location only. Again, my time is valuable and I only have enough time to give it to so many people. So in order to make sure I am available, I do not commute. If I had to drive to and from clients, the time spent on the road is time that could have been spent with one of my clients.
I also have strict hours of operation. I only communicate with people Monday - Thursday between the hours of 10 am - 7 pm. If you contact me outside of those hours, you will not receive a response unless it’s from another staff member. I make exceptions for clients who have larger packages or projects to work with them over the weekends if it makes sense to but those exceptions are rarely made.
So you have to look at your workload and determine what boundaries are needed in order to remain professional and make sure you are serving the people needed without putting too much on your plate for 1 person to handle.
Again, people like boundaries because they are able to have clear expectations. If I don’t communicate those boundaries upfront, someone would be upset if they send an email on Friday without a response. But because I communicate those boundaries upfront, they are aware of them and would know that if they want a same-day response, send an email Monday through Thursday.
This is by far the most important, your time is key in creating balance within the workplace. You have to decide what your cut off time is in order to have a work-life balance that’s healthy and contributing to your long term success. People who end up overdoing it and giving too much time to their careers end up losing people they care about, failing in other aspects of their lives and sadly, create an unrealistic standard of yourself that at some point will burn out.
Now I do believe in having seasons of our lives where we are more focused on certain things but if this season lasts for too long, it can become the norm and end up creating long term problems.
My advice is to learn to work smart, not hard. I say this all the time because it’s so true! Look at how your spending your time each day and see if there are opportunities to better strategize your workload and overall give yourself more freedom while still accomplishing what’s needed.
Here’s a perfect example, instead of checking your emails first thing each day, check them at the END of the day! Why? Because when you start your day responding to people, you will end up responding to people all day long.
Another good tip for turning work off, especially if you work from home is to have a designated time to shut off your electronics and leave them in another room.
This is something Dre and I definitely practice as entrepreneurs otherwise we would never stop working at a decent time.
Which brings me to the next area of boundary setting, relationships.
I’m talking about your boo thang here. Whether your just dating, in a serious relationship or marriage boundaries, need to apply with your significant other or your potentials.
You should have the most boundaries if you’re dating because in the dating phase, you are getting to know someone and both of you are setting expectations and norms without really realizing it. For example, if you start the relationship off immediately responding to text messages and always being available, that will become the person’s expectations of you.
But in reality, you have other priorities and the truth is, there will be times when you aren’t and shouldn’t be available. Like when you’re working or spending time with friends or family.
So set clear boundaries and expectations for those types of situations and make sure that the boundaries aren’t just 1 sided, they should be mutual.
Other boundaries to think about when it comes to your significant other has to deal with sex. If you are just dating, you may not be intimate yet, set boundaries for what’s appropriate or not as you maneuver through dating. If you haven’t read my blog post about dealing with men who only want sex, this will be helpful. Sometimes we make it easy for guys to think that we are down with the get down with nonverbal communication. This blog post will help you learn how to deal with that.
Another good boundary to create in your relationship is the relationships with people of the opposite sex. Your spouse should never put a friend above or before you out of respect. So creating clear boundaries that both parties are going to obey is helpful to make sure there aren’t any issues due to miss communication or false expectations.
My last tip for setting boundaries with your significant other is to be present when your spending quality time. That means putting down your phone and having an actual conversation. Have you ever been on a date with someone who wouldn’t put their phone down? Or with your spouse, you spend all day at work and then by the time your both finally get home, each of you is too consumed with checking your messages, email and DM’s to pay real attention to each other. Don’t allow technology to get in between your relationship, it’s not worth it.
With your friends/family:
I’m going to address friends and family at the same time because they pretty much fall in the same boat. Your friends and family are the people you love and care about the most. So it’s safe to say, they will consume a good amount of your time. Nothing is wrong with that, as long as you have boundaries in place.
You never want to pour so much out of your cup that you have nothing left to give yourself. You also don’t want to be the person who is constantly taking from someone else either. There should be a balance.
We all have those 2-3 people who we know we can talk to when we’re going through things and that’s good to have. Just be mindful of how much you are requesting of someone and vise versa.
Something that comes to mind when I think of boundaries with friends and family is the information you disclose about your significant other.
Your relationship, is your business and many of the things you go through with your partner should stay between you and your partner, especially if you’re married. However, I do think that outside council is good to have every now and then. My advice is this, if you’re married, find a married friend who could be your support friend. If you’re dating, have a friend who is also in a relationship as a listening ear, and if you’re single, talk to you whoever you please.
I hate when girls who are in relationships go to their single friends for advice. Not saying that your single friends can’t have good advice it’s just wise to receive a council that can relate to your situation and properly guide you because they are in a similar or better boat than you.
Relationships within your friend circle or family can also get a little complicated when people tell you their business. So another boundary to think about is gossip. You should have an expectation for your friends and family not to share your business, just as they wouldn’t want you to share theirs.
Your Personal Time:
My absolute favorite! We kind of talked about this in each of the other areas and it’s because your personal time is valuable!
Set limits and boundaries to the things you say “yes” to and the things you say “no” to. This is huge with creating balance in your life. If you haven’t read my blog post on “the power of saying no” definitely check it out! I go into detail about determining your yes and no items and ways to politely turn things down and master the art of saying “no”.
Whenever we overextend ourselves to others, we are ultimately depriving ourselves of “me time”. When this happens too much, we are left with an empty cup and nothing else left to give to the people we love. This is the cause of imbalance, stress, and anxiety.
Set clear boundaries and commit to a schedule that allows you to give a generous amount of time and effort to yourself and the people and things you care about most.
I hope these tips are helpful! Make sure to DM me @breannaaponte if you have ideas for future blog topics!
Until next time, be shameless!