Time Management is all About Boundaries and it’s Your Job to Defend Them.
How often do you get distracted from doing what it is that you really want to do?
You end up focussing on priorities set by other people and you allow them to take control of your daily schedule. This leads to a lot of work being done for the benefit of others meaning that you, and those you care about, are the ones that suffer.
Time management, procrastination, distraction, avoidance – call it what you will, it’s probably one of the biggest issues for anyone, anywhere.
At the heart of the problem, usually, is that we find it very difficult to say “No” to others. We want to help others and, when your help is asked for, it feels wrong and downright rude to say anything other than “Absolutely, when can I start?”
I developed the following imaginary scenario with one of my clients and it really helped them to create their boundaries and keep them. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful too.
I want you to imagine that you’re in charge of a large construction site and you’re building a huge tower that represents the life you want to lead.
This building is, of course, built on foundations and, in this case, your foundations are the things which are most important to you.
You family. Your values. Your own wellbeing.
Just take a moment to think really deeply about the things that are really important to you. The rest of your life is going to be built on them, so it’s best if they are clear, strong, and dug deep.
The construction process cannot properly start until these foundations are in place. Then, as long as you keep them intact, the tower that is your future can be safely built.
Of course, at this stage, we only have the foundations – the future is yet to come. Any construction site worth its salt is going to protect those foundations from any vandals and terrorists that might want to damage them. So you put up fences around the edge of the site, install CCTV cameras, and have guards with dogs patrolling the perimeter.
Going forward, the strategy is simple.
Only let through the access gate and into the compound, people, and things that are going to help you build your tower.
Those that will add to your energy, build on your vision, contribute to your growth, and of course, believe in your values.
On the flip side, anyone or anything that might damage the foundations or slow down the building programme should be kept out.
These are the people who want you to answer their questions. Now! That wants you to spend your time on things that help them and not you. Instead of adding, they drain you of energy. Time wasters, negative people, poor team members.
Do not let these people into your compound !!
If anyone does sneak past the guards, get them out as quickly as possible. Set the dogs on them.
What about those people that are part of the construction team but have come at the wrong time? The ringing phone, the email in the inbox, the message on the phone?
Well, they’re welcome back – but at a time of your choosing. When you, and the compound are ready to accept them.
Are you clear about what you’re protecting? Do you know why you’re protecting it? Do you know where the threats are going to come from?
If those threats persist, are you prepared to ‘set the dogs’ on them?
Think really deeply about this scenario and, when you find someone asking you to do something that is going to waste your time, bring this image back up.
Now see how easy it is to say ‘No’.
Remember: Time Management is All About Boundaries and it’s Your Job to Defend Them.