Guest blog post by Harry Archer, Personal Trainer
- Overcommitting is draining your resources
- You’re in control of your own boundaries
- Set time boundaries and have clearer direction for time-management
Want a really easy and simple way to feel anxious, stressed and overwhelmed? Over-commit to stuff. Give away your time.
Say “yes, I can do that” at work more often.
Say yes when you really shouldn’t.
Say yes when you already have a full project list.
Say yes to people/things that drain your energy.
Say yes to essentially doing other people’s work for them.
Say yes to friends you don’t really want to spend time with due to how they make you feel.
Say yes to ultimately having to sacrifice your personal time.
Which you’ll end up resenting. IF you don’t already.
Question: when does a “productivity” issue become an overcommitment issue?
Answer: productivity issues are usually always over-commitment issues….
The responsibilities that come with saying yes start to creep into your available time. You start having to sacrifice available time to get the work done.
You’ll be forced into saying no to stuff you don’t want to say no to. Like spending time with friends/family, not being able to go to the gym or having to cancel date night…again.
Or even for seemingly innocuous stuff like going for a run or to the gym. Cooking a meal from scratch instead of ordering a takeaway. Grabbing a quick, high-calorie lunch. Being too busy to eat, but hoovering food in at dinner with no apparent hunger-off-switch.
Over-commitments impact more than just your job. They’ll impact your ability to do the stuff that helps you feel and perform better, not just physically but also psychologically too.
Setting Personal Boundaries
A big step in the No direction is understanding what personal boundaries you have, and what boundaries you need to establish before you commit to a “yes”.
Personal boundaries are dictated by you, and you alone. Your boundaries are the limits you set for how you spend your time.
What Boundaries Do You Have?
Figuring out what boundaries we have – or don’t have – is the first step to figuring out where your issues are.
Let’s look at where you personally stand & see if there’s some room for Boundary Improvements. For example:
- Do you feel people take advantage of your time at work/personal life?
- Do you find yourself being put into situations where you feel it’s difficult to say “no”?
- Do you feel like you’re having to solve everyone’s problems all of the time?
- Do you feel like people dump their problems on you….without offering support for you
- Do you feel you don’t have time to commit to exercise each week?
- Do you feel you don’t have time to commit to “you” time each week?
If you’ve answered yes to any or many or some of these, then setting better personal boundaries might be a really useful thing for you to start doing.
Why Set Personal Boundaries?
Most work boundaries will and should be set around the time you have to commit.
Not just in a “there’s 168 hours in a week” capacity either. Whilst you do have 168 hours per week, your commitments don’t have equal allocation of time do they?
What we’re interested in is helping you think about what your actual priorities are, vs perceived priorities.
We have a responsibility to manage our own time effectively, and part of that responsibility includes making sure you don’t overcommit your time.
Developing your own boundaries will help massively with over-commitment. Here’s how:
- Awareness of how you spend your time, what you spend your time doing and where you can start to say no to stuff that unnecessarily takes it up
- Taking personal responsibility for your work, and your work only.
- Saying “no” to other people dumping their own responsibilities and/or problems on you
- Not being stuck in a position wasting time doing other people’s job on top of yours
- You’ll understand how to prioritise your work time, and develop healthy boundaries for what you commit to
- You will be able to commit to stuff that improves and maintains your physical health
- You’ll be able to commit to stuff that improves and maintains your mental health (pretty much the same as above)
- You can commit to eating better
Setting your own boundaries is a healthy, positive approach to working. Over time, with the right boundaries in place, you’ll soon find you’re more productive, more focused and generally better at your job performance as you over-commit to less.
How-To Set Personal Boundaries
Setting personal boundaries will help you understand where you draw the line on what you commit to at work. You’ll also begin to recognise and reinforce what you will and won’t tolerate from others, where you draw the line and they’ll help you overcome performance issues due to lack of time.
Here’s what you’re looking at when setting personal boundaries:
- Set your time boundaries, literally: You’ll have your contracted hours, and job-related responsibilities to perform within those hours. Split your required tasks into time blocks, and ring fence them. Your job responsibilities are exactly that – yours. Make sure you have the time available to do your own job first.
- Decide appropriate commitments: On occasion, there will be times where you have to allocate more time to work, outside of required contracted hours. Think project deadlines, or planned overtime. Remember though- not everything is an appropriate commitment – doing other people’s jobs for them isn’t appropriate, sitting in unnecessary meetings isn’t appropriate and leaving work way after hours because you’re overcommitted and on deadlines is definitely not appropriate.
- Check your expectations: part of overcommitment is unrealistic expectations of how long something will take. There’s a concept called Parkinson’s Law – work will expand to fill the time allocated to it. If you allocate 5 minutes to a task, you’ll find you’ll finish within 5 minutes. If you need longer, then allocate more time to a task however you’ll need to manage your expectations on how long your tasks will take.
- Commit a Time Budget: HBR wrote an article on this very subject. It’s very well written and covers the point of prioritising and allocating time exceptionally well. Check it out here: https://hbr.org/2015/02/a-formula-to-stop-you-from-overcommitting-your-time
- Ringfence Stuff That Improves Your Physical and Mental Health: Seriously. Just do this already. Mental and physical health is the crux of you as a human being. When these are looked after, worked on, improved and ultimately maintained, you’ll be a much much better space. There are too many “whys” looking after these two components is important to not do it. So here’s what I want you to do – now, as you’re reading – is to put 2-4 slots of time that you’re SOLELY committing to MENTAL Health, and then PHYSICAL health too. Ring-fence that time. Prioritise your self.
Remember, whilst it may feel like you’re over committed and not productive enough, it’s all of your own doing. Take responsibility for how you allocate your time, not just to your job but to your life as well. What else do you think gets impacted if you’re in the office more hours than necessary or taking your work with you? How can you look after yourself, to be the best version of yourself, if you’re not spending time doing exactly that – actually looking after yourself.