Four Boundaries Worth Setting Right Now

Learn how to say no.

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When it comes to list making and my general time management and organization I like rules.

I like things to be clear cut– black and white.

Rules save me time, because I’m not sitting there wondering whether to take the call, go to the meeting or have another glass of wine.

I have a rule in place so it’s either happening or it isn’t.

I recently did an event for my book Listful Thinking with the National Association of Professional Organizers in New York City and a common theme struck a cord. Boundaries.

I’m often asked about what I call my “rules” and I find that the idea tends to resonate with a lot of people, especially working mothers. Probably because these rules allow me to set these boundaries in both my personal and professional life.

It’s something a lot of people have trouble with.

It’s not just working mothers though, I meet plenty of people who have trouble setting boundaries and sticking to them. It goes against our instincts to be agreeable in all situations. You have to learn to strike that balance between being friendly, but not a pushover and not running yourself ragged by saying yes all the time.

Here are some boundaries I set in my life:

Say No — Do you have a hard time saying no when someone asks you for a favor or sends you an invitation to get together? You’re not alone. I do too. I totally understand — sometimes you just suck it up and give your precious time away.

After the rough start to this year with my appendix rupture — I’ve reevaluated how I make decisions. Having a health issue really makes you prioritize but it shouldn’t take an organ exploding in your body for you to make a change.

Now I understand why Tim Ferriss says in his book that he only takes on opportunities that are a “hell yeah.” At first I didn’t get it. But now I totally understand the rule.

It may seem a bit intense, but when you only agree to things that you’re passionate about you find you tend to put more energy into the tasks. Saying no gives more time for important tasks, obligations, and most importantly — yourself!

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Take A Moment — When you have an important task to do, it’s tempting to jump right in before you’ve even thought about it. But this ‘go-getter’ attitude can be what’s hindering your productivity. By taking 5 minutes to quickly jot down a plan or brainstorm different ways of tackling the task, you can save yourself a lot of time in the long run.

So instead of just doing what someone asked of you right then and there. Pause. Write it down on your to-do list and inform the person that you’ll get to that task when you’re finished with something more pressing now.

Don’t answer your phone — Only answer if it’s absolutely necessary. I started doing this years ago and it’s changed my workflow.

Here’s the rule: If the person calling can give you information about the task you’re working on or you have an appointment for that call — you pick it up.

Otherwise — it’s not high priority and can wait.

Use discipline when returning the call. When you insist on an appointment before you answer a call it let’s people know that your time is valuable.

I even have a rule for the times I do phone calls. 11am and 3pm. That’s it. And guess what? People make it work.

Make yourself a priority — It’s easy to say you’re too busy to look after yourself and it’s one of the first things out the window when you’re in a rush. But even the smallest amount of time can really help you. Ten minutes makes a tremendous difference. You can definitely take 10 minutes out for yourself.

Treat your ‘me time’ appointment in the same way you would a doctor’s appointment, or lunch with a friend. Because you are just as important as anybody else!

How do you set boundaries?

Originally published at on April 25, 2016.

Originally published at

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