Bust Chaos with Boundaries!

Do you find yourself going from meeting to meeting and not having time to get your “real work” done? Worse, do you find yourself catching up at night, during soccer games and in the early morning hours, rather than getting to the gym or spending time with your family?

This constant, nagging feeling of being behind is a common complaint—and a serious problem. It costs leaders their health and wellbeing, and prevents them from being able to truly relax and recharge. As a result, precious time with children is lost, marriages are neglected, and leaders lose sight of their most important goals and values. Moreover, they contribute to building a culture of burnout that impedes effectiveness and limits the ability to retain talented people.

That’s why the second principle in my new series on Authentic Leadership, which I’ve designed to help you take concrete steps toward becoming a better culture-building leader, focuses on establishing boundaries that protect your time, enable you to recharge, and improve balance in your personal and professional relationships.

Leadership is all about bringing order to chaos, and boundaries are one of the best tools you can use to create a sense of order and control in both your personal and professional lives. There are three main types of boundaries you must be able to assert:

Self-care boundaries help to ensure you maintain a healthy life balance. For example, managing work hours and disconnecting from electronics in the evenings and on weekends, exercising, making time for hobbies and recreational activities or spending time alone or with family or friends are all ways to enforce self-care boundaries that give you the vital time you need to recharge emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Time boundaries hold you accountable for taking control of your choices about how to spend your time. Though it can sometimes feel like you “have no choice,” that’s a false perception that makes you feel like a victim rather than an active participant in your life. Recognizing you have and make choices every day about how to spend your time will help you manage your time to better focus on the projects and priorities most important to you.

Boundaries with others are also important to establish. While being available and responsive to your boss or your team is a worthy goal, you must also be able to hold others accountable and say no when needed, understanding that you will sometimes have to disappoint others in order to be true to your values and priorities.

Once you’ve set more boundaries, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish, and how much healthier, more energized and more effective you feel. What’s more, you’ll set the example to your employees that a healthy life balance is critical to success, and encourage them to take better charge of their time, their health and their goals. Everybody wins. So Carpe Diem!