And as dramatic as it may sound, I hardly recognized my current schedule or myself. Since when did I regularly wake up late, work over the lunch hour, come home late and then “fires up the laptop” during those precious hours between kids’ bedtime and my own. Over the last four months, boundaries between work and home blended until one day I realized my schedule wasn’t sustainable. Where was the joy? Why did my schedule not include things and people who mattered most? No working out, novel reading, writing or baking. No coffee catch-ups, dates or solo yoga sessions. It was a recipe for burnout and something needed, or if I’m being honest needs, to change.
Is anyone else in the process of setting boundaries? For me, it’s easier to function without boundaries. And, doesn’t that sound appealing and free-spirited? “Oh me, I don’t need boundaries. I just go where the day takes me!” Which is lovely, I suppose, if stress-levels remain low. My advertising peers and I often joke that “we’re not saving lives,” yet we tend to work at a frantic pace. It’s my responsibility to set and stick to reasonable boundaries, but that is sometimes easier said than done.
Strategies and Tips to Set Boundaries and Reclaim Your Schedule:
- Create an evening and morning routine. A good morning starts with a good evening routine and everyone’s “checklist” should look a bit different. For me, this means packing lunches, tidying up the house and going to bed at a reasonable hour. Yes, ideally I would also brew some herbal tea and read but sometimes the call of Bravo is simply too strong.
- Turn off the screens. I’m challenging myself to stay off of my phone starting at 8:30 p.m. every night.
- Have a productive lunch. We all know the health risks associated with sitting and screens. We’re set-up for a success afternoon if we take a break, fuel-up and ideally, get a little vitamin D. I’ve blocked time on my calendar, jotted down to-do lists and essentially keep “cancelling” on appointments with myself. I’m taking a new approach, literally scheduling workouts and appointments with family and friends.
- Implement a weekly “bucket” list. This one feels a bit silly, but hear me out. For the last two Sundays, I drafted reasonable weekly to-dos for myself and our family. Some are fun: Go to the gym pool for Open Swim. Others are not: Weed Vegetable Garden. Rather than stack our weekends, spreading outings and chores breaks up the weekday monotony. I also set my FitBit alarm for 5:05 pm each weekday as a physical reminder to leave work on-time.
- Have fun forever, or Suck the Nectar! In my 20s, my mantra was “Suck the nectar!” A modern version of “seize the day.” It’s about capturing that childlike joy and going with the flow. You know those moments when they strike: when it just feels right to take a long lunch-hour, turn up the music, grab a midday coffee or stay at a friend’s house later than anticipated. When everyone in your family is having fun or the weather is just right – go for it!
Now, I’m never going to claim to be a productivity or boundary-setting expert but these tactics are working for me and my family.