Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking about how they are going to free up your time to make sure you get your stuff done. It is up to you to create the boundaries that allow you to accomplish what you want to do. This is one situation where less is more. You set limits to do less, and you end up getting more done.
Why You Must Set Limits
Tasks expand to fill the time available. If you tell yourself that you need to get that blog post done by Wednesday, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be writing at 10:30pm Wednesday night. Not only that, you’ll think “I’ve got to get that blog post done” for days and hours before then, wasting valuable energy and brain space.
Living intentionally increases your personal power. Allowing anything and anyone to interrupt your work causes you to feel powerless and frustrated. Setting limits creates a measure of control and order so you can deal with the inevitable surprises. There’s a big difference between being flexible with your plan and being overwhelmed with no plan.
You know yourself. Since you know your own personality and life circumstances, you are best suited to set the limits that serve you. You can take advantage of your body’s rhythms for productivity by protecting your work times and creating a schedule that works for you.
You will get more done with less stress. Don’t think of setting limits as something else you have to do. Think of it as a powerful tool that will give you what you want.
How to Set Limits So You Can Get More Done
Manage distractions. We’re not talking obsessively trying to make your life perfect. Just be realistic about the things that drive you crazy or easily grab your attention. Don’t let the distractions manage you.
Have a growth mindset. No fair labeling yourself and giving up. Don’t go around talking about how you have ADD and that’s just the way you are. You CAN change and learn to set limits and get your life in order. It just takes study and practice. Nobody is born with the gift of setting limits.
Dump what you can. There may be a part of your business that is no longer serving you. Maybe you need to focus on just a couple of social media platforms and do them well for now. Part of setting limits is getting out from under tasks you shouldn’t be doing.
Practical Tips to Set Limits
- Turn off notifications. Don’t look or listen to alarms that tell you when you have new emails or a new Facebook message. YOU choose when to check them.
- Use a timer. Psychologically, knowing that you have a set amount of time to work will help you focus. There’s an end in sight so you can give it all you’ve got.
- Make a plan and schedule. Rather than “Write blog post on Wednesday,” make it “Write blog post on Tuesday between 9:00-11:00.” Give yourself wiggle room, but help your brain know what’s coming so it can start searching for solutions and gathering information.
- Teach others how to treat you. Communicate your limits. “Mmm, sorry Bill, I already have something scheduled. I can get to that on Tuesday.” People are generally cooperative with someone who has a schedule and a plan. The majority of them don’t have a plan and they’re impressed by yours.
- Set up self-imposed constraints. Announce a new class to your email list so you’ll get to work on it. Tell your coaching group buddies that you’ll report in when your project is finished. Now you’ll naturally limit other commitments so you can meet these deadlines.
- Build in rewards. Schedule lunch with a friend after a morning of knocking out your to-do list. Reward yourself with a Pinterest session after you spend a focused 20 minutes on a project.
It boils down to the fact that setting limits will help you get what you want. Nobody can do everything that comes up, so make sure that your limits protect your time and energy.
Three Action Steps to Practice Setting Limits
Like everything else, learning to set and enforce limits takes practice. Start slow and build an before long you will be a pro. Here are three simple action steps to give you some practice and get you started.
- Take some time to think through areas of your life that could benefit from limits. Start with two areas, such as “Kids ask questions when I’m working” and “I check Facebook groups several times an hour.”
- Decide on a limit-setting method for each, such as “set and communicate ground rules for kids” and “create a Facebook-checking schedule.”
- Write down those limit-setters and post them where you can see them, then DO them!
The idea of plans and schedules and limits might trigger some resistance in free spirits who go with the flow. The crazy thing is that limits create freedom. Set up some structure and fence posts of limits, and you’ll free yourself for creativity and flexibility within that structure.
Less is more. Less stress and more done is a good thing. Free yourself for the life you want by setting limits!
Charlotte Siems works with Boom! Social in the Boom! Social Media Mastery training program. She serves clients as a member of the Boom Care Squad, with a specialty in mindset coaching. Charlotte’s lifelong study of personal development and her experiences in raising a large family equipped her to build a successful online business from the ground up. She is uniquely qualified to help others create success in their life and business.