Do you have those days in a week when you are overwhelmed by the number of tasks you need to complete before ending the day?

have you ever felt dissatisfied even after being busy for the whole day?

If your answer is yes, then you are not setting up time boundaries adequately for yourself.

What Are Time Boundaries?

The way a person manages his/her time is referred to as time boundaries. A person must set aside adequate time for each aspect of their life, such as work, relationships, and hobbies, to have appropriate time boundaries. When someone demands too much of another’s time, time boundaries are breached.

All human beings have 24 hours in a day, no matter in which region of the world they are living (Unless you are living on another planet).

In these progressive times, every human wants to achieve more, in less time. People try to multitask so that they can execute different tasks simultaneously.

Besides professional commitments, personal commitments also demand proper time and attention. Personal commitments may include, giving time to family and friends, attending social gatherings, having some relaxing time for mental and physical peace, etc.

Obviously, we aren’t machines that we can start and end each task at a specific time and can give accurate time to each commitment according to a timetable. But still, we need to manage our time boundaries for each and everything so that we don’t end up disrupting different aspects of our lives.

Importance of Time Boundaries

Your time is precious, and you should be careful about how you spend it. Setting time boundaries is crucial in business, at home, and in social relationships.

Setting time boundaries entails recognizing your priorities and allocating sufficient time to various aspects of your life without overcommitting. It is much easier to limit the amount of time you give to other people, once you understand your priorities.

Violation of Time Boundaries

When you don’t respect your time boundaries or others’, it comes under the violation of time boundaries.

Asking specialists for their time without paying them, demanding time from people, keeping people in conversations or on tasks for longer than we promised, showing up late or canceling on people because we overcommitted, and contacting people when they said they would be unavailable are all examples of time boundaries that have been violated.

Respecting Your Time Boundaries

As it’s said, “Change starts within you”. For making people respect your time boundaries, first, we need to respect our own and others’ time boundaries.

People who successfully set time boundaries, recognize the importance of time and, more importantly, understand, that even minor diversions can be significant.

For example, we assume that scrolling through social media for a few minutes, within office hours, wouldn’t affect our work. But, more than often, we end up scrolling for a great deal of time until or unless someone or something diverts our attention.

Respecting Other People’s Time Boundaries

For maintaining good relationships, respecting other people’s time boundaries is very important. As no one wants to stay in isolation without talking to anyone for a long time, similarly no one wants you to talk to them for extended hours of time. Life needs balance in every aspect.

Overindulgence makes others get annoyed by you and they start drifting away from you.

Here are some suggestions that may come in handy:

  • When conversing with somebody, try to focus on listening to the other person, rather than speaking up your own thoughts and feelings. No one is free in this busy world. So, if someone has set aside a few minutes to talk to you, you should at least listen to what they have to say.
  • If you are visiting someone’s place, try to inform them prior to your arrival - asking if they are free and available at that time.
  • If you have set an appointment with anyone, try to be punctual so that they don’t have to wait for you. Everyone’s time is important.

How to Set Up Your Time Boundaries?

Always take out time for yourself. Besides all your duties and responsibilities, your “Me Time” should be within your top 5 priorities list.

Me TIME: The time you utilize solely for yourself. It can include anything such as: relaxing, having a nap, watching your favorite show, arranging your room or wardrobe, having a cup of coffee and reading a book etc.

Let’s now identify the steps to set up your time boundaries:

  1. Identify your own requirements: Before understanding others we need to understand ourselves first. Try to figure out what do you need in a day to make it accomplished? It can be anything from having a good amount of sleep, having a nice coffee in the morning, doing exercise in the morning, or having a happy family breakfast etc.

    Let’s call this requirement a “happiness booster”. If you don’t get your happiness booster in a day, you don’t feel energetic at your work/study, your day goes dull etc. This step may sound as very casual or unimportant but identifying your happiness booster has a great impact on your overall day.

    This will help you to feel energetic and think with greater capacity to take out time for every task throughout the day and manage time boundaries accordingly.

  2. Tell people around you about your time boundaries: Once you have identified your time boundaries, tell them to the people around you. List of people can include family, friends, colleagues etc.

    These people should know what are your needs at a specific time. If you do a 9 to 5 job, then your boss and office colleagues shouldn’t disturb you for an office task after 5PM or at weekends.

    You should only be available for the work within the time period you both have agreed upon. Other than work, your colleagues can call you for inviting you to a get together or a picnic or for anything else but not for work.

  3. Stick to your time boundaries: More than often it happens that we ourselves do not respect our time boundaries.

    If you are on a family trip having an off from work and still trying to take out some time to complete office tasks that are not even urgent, just so that when you get back to the office, you don’t have to do a lot of work. This way, you will neither enjoy your family time, nor your work would be done efficiently.

Discussing Some Common Cases About “How to stick to your time boundaries”

Long meetings or unexpected demands from coworkers can prohibit you from finishing a critical assignment, cause you to leave work late, or even compromise your family time. How do you establish and explain limits so that you feel valued in your time? Begin by looking at your calendar. Block out hours when you’re commuting, driving your kids to school, or by focusing on your work, and make sure you’re tagged as
“Not Available” during those times.

Next, make sure you’re scheduling meetings for the right length of time and sticking to a focused agenda. Tell your coworkers that you have a hard stop if you aren’t the meeting’s leader. You must also keep track of communications. Decide on your preferred method of communication.

For example, when using email versus Slack, be transparent with your coworkers and answer as soon as feasible. The majority of messages can wait! Of course, you can’t always schedule meetings around your requirements or tell people how to communicate with you. However, the idea is to establish boundaries that are both polite on the outside and peaceful on the inside.

Thinking about how to start setting time boundaries? Here’s How to:

Everything doesn’t become perfect within a day. First relax and self reflect on your responsibilities, how you spend your day, your needs and requirements. By reflecting on these things, you will get to identify how your days should be planned.

What if you get a sudden change in plan? A friend or relative invited you for dinner at their place on Saturday night or your wife wishes to have a movie night at her favorite cinema watching her favorite movie. No worries, just adjust accordingly.

Life is uncertain. Sudden changes are not always pleasurable. Sometimes, sudden changes in plans are stressful too, such as: your friend got into an accident and you have to visit him/her at the hospital.

How to accept the change in your plans that’s violating your time boundaries?

1. Accept the New Situation

Concentrating on the fact that things aren’t going as planned will simply add to your worry and anxiety. It will be easier to move forward if you actively separate from expectations and accept the reality of the situation. Start taking action once you’ve accepted your current situation.

2. Make a Strategy

While it may seem impossible to plan ahead during this time, there are steps you can do to manage scheduling disruptions. Start by identifying your priorities, outlining tasks, trying to reschedule postponed events or meetings, making necessary calls, creating deadlines, and preparing yourself for future changes.

3. Make Your Health a Priority

Sudden changes in plan cannot always be from others, you can also be the reason for violating your time boundaries without you having control over it. Example: You become sick and are not able to attend an important meeting.

Canceled plans and rescheduled events can be inconvenient, but your health comes first. Because stress may wreak havoc on your immune system, it’s best to concentrate on what you can manage. Eat well, drink plenty of water, do 30 minutes of home exercise, and get some rest!

It’s a part of life to have to deal with the unexpected. We have little control over how things unfold, but we do have power over how we respond and how much compassion and understanding we bring to each scenario. Individuals, communities, and nations are often defined by how they respond to events like COVID-19. Even though everyone’s plans, routines, and expectations have altered, it is still possible to adjust positively and overcome them.

Concluding on Time Boundaries

Time boundaries are important to be set up for yourself as well as for others to respect your time boundaries. It’s a lot simpler to limit the amount of time you give to other people when you know what your priorities are. Sometimes, people try to push your time boundaries. People that test your time boundaries do so for a variety of reasons.

Some people are self-centered or have low self-esteem. Some were raised that way, while others are trying to connect in ways they haven’t been able to before. For many, however, it’s simply a lack of awareness, an inability to notice what they’re pushing or how it’s hurting you.

“I can’t come to that event this weekend,” is an example of a healthy time boundary. “I’m only going to be here for one hour”. But, it doesn’t end here. You are equally liable to respect other peoples’ time boundaries. If you are strict on your own time boundaries but don’t care about others’, you are not a good and responsible person.

No matter discipline in every aspect of life is important and setting time boundaries helps so much in making your life disciplined and well managed. Still, you are a human, so give yourself a bit of freedom to sometimes break the rules and enjoy life out of boundaries.

You are your own master of setting your time boundaries and following them. You are not accountable to anyone for them. So, whenever you can’t follow your schedule or something doesn’t go according to your plan, don’t feel disheartened. Try your best next time.

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