thumb_Setting and enforcing boundaries_1024As a business owner, do you find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day? Do you find that your “to do” list grows faster than you can tick things off? Do you keep agreeing to do things that you really don’t want to do?

You might feel that it would be wonderful if there was a way to create more hours in a day so that you could complete all your tasks, but as you know, that just isn’t possible. The only way to achieve your goals is to set and enforce boundaries that allow you to get your work done.

Friends of ours have recently got a puppy – a Ridgeback/Staffy/Mastif cross. I watched with interest as they started training him. In just five months, he is obedient, house-trained, will come, sit, stay and lie down all just from hand signals.  He doesn’t nip your fingers or jump up at you; he’s an absolute delight. Our friends have set and enforced boundaries – and he knows and understands them.

In the same way, you have to train the people in your life – whether that’s family, friends or clients – on what your boundaries are. You do that by getting clear on them, communicating them to the people in your life, and enforcing them.

Take a moment to think about the people who tend to take up most of your time, and start thinking about the kinds of boundaries you want to (and can) set with these people.

For instance, with family members you might want to set boundaries around a space and time at home where you’ll be focused on working on your business.  You can explain that during those hours you’ll be in your office working on your business and you should not be disturbed unless it’s an emergency or absolutely necessary. You can also share with them the ways they can support you – maybe your partner can support you by watching the kids or making dinner. Perhaps the kids could help out by washing the dishes or taking the dog for a walk.

With friends, you can let them know that you’ll be spending more time focused on your business, (but do make plans to spend time with them outside your business hours).

And with clients, you can set boundaries on when or how often they can call, email and text you, and what your response times will be like. You can enforce these boundaries by not checking email or responding to texts or Facebook messages outside your business hours.

It’s also really important, when setting boundaries, to limit the negativity in your life – particularly with those who are not supportive of what you are doing.  If someone voices a negative or doubtful opinion about your business, politely ask them to stop, and if they don’t, then remove yourself from the conversation (and if possible, limit the amount of time you spend with them).

It’s important that you enforce your boundaries, because if you don’t, you’re sending a message that it’s ok for others to step over them. In the same way our friends won’t let their puppy rule their house, don’t let the people in your life step over your boundaries – they will soon learn how to adapt to them, and you will notice a definite increase in your productivity as a result.

And of course, while this blog post is talking about setting boundaries in our work life, boundaries are equally important in our personal lives. Where are you compromising on your boundaries, and what steps will you take to address this?

Jan Osmond