Setting Boundaries

Strategic Approach To Setting Boundaries & Managing Your Workload (part 2)

“Take a strategic approach to setting boundaries and managing your workload” – this was the advice I gave you in part 1.

To review how this is done, here’s the summarized 4-step approach:

  1. Get clarity on the situation – is it temporary or permanent?
  2. Ask for the support you need – even if it’s just advice or brainstorming.
  3. Communicate the Big Picture to your supervisor and collaborators, involving them if needed.
  4. Before saying “yes” ask yourself if you really have the capacity right now, and have the courage to say “no” if not.


In part 2, I’d like to shine a spotlight on the ELEPHANT in our lives: BUSY-NESS.

Elephant EarsAs established in part 1, society tells us that “busy” = important & “stress” = hard work.

With the endless email pings, twitter feeds and contact requests, technology is enabling the myth.

To see some mind-blowing stats on technology’s impact, check out “The Digital Matrix”.

And most of us have bought in to it (including me).

First off, it’s not true. Secondly, it’s pushing you away from a balanced life of happiness to one of a headless chicken with no idea what’s driving it.

Liminal Consulting Ltd hits the nail on the head in “Slow down; you have nothing to lose but your stress”: 

“Something’s got to give. This pace is unsustainable – and it sets up a potentially deeply destructive ideal for (fill in the blank)…”

In light of the increasingly busy situation we find ourselves in circa 2016, I’ve added a 5th step…

Step 5: Recognize Busyness as a Choice

According to “Are You Addicted to Doing?”, ‘busyness is modern laziness’.

The busier you are and keep yourself the less you’re confronted with critical questions and issues.

In other words, busyness allows you to avoid uncomfortable questions (Have I chosen the right career? Is this meeting worth missing this family event?)

Sure, everyone has to work, clean, shop, care for family, etc. At times, these personal and professional commitments can feel all-consuming.

However, you usually have the freedom to choose how busy you are.



The next time you feel super busy, ask yourself:

  1. What’s keeping me busy? And is it worth it (health, family)?
  2. Are there things on my plate I can or should let go?
  3. Am I busy with must-do things or could some them wait?

The key is to reflect on what drives you: Do you need to be seen as perfect or strong or busy? If yes, why?

Saying “no” is not a sign of weakness. Delegating does not mean you’re incapable of doing it yourself.

It simply means you are self-aware enough to know when your plate is full.

Remember, it’s a bad reflection on you if you say “yes” and come back later and have to say “no”. Or worse, you do it “half-assed”. Everybody loses in this scenario.

Think about the leaders you admire. How do they handle busyness? When they say “yes” do they mean it?

From “Slow down (part 2)” here’s the final step in learning to slow down:

“Reclaim the margins – the time and space needed for physical, mental, spiritual and social renewal. Don’t be a slave to technology.”

What tip or idea can you add to mine? Please leave me a  question or comment below about how you handle busyness? 

  • Really great article Tim! I agree that we are the masters of our own destiny – and that means we have a responsibility to ourselves and our loved ones to manage the most precious resource we have been given, time, in a responsible and sustainable way. Thank you for the reference to “The Digital Matrix”. PS. In some ways technology can actually make us more effective and less busy, but we all tend go deeper into the rabbithole 😉 Keep up your great writing!