I am one of those people whose mind is constantly going. Setting boundaries has never been my strong point. I find it incredibly difficult to switch off. When I was teaching I would spend hours looking for ideas, creating resources, planning awesome lessons and writing up all of the reflections and learning stories that went with running a classroom. No wonder I was burnt out!
As I have learnt and experienced more I realise the importance of setting boundaries to actually achieve more. When I have boundaries I waste less time and get so much of my to-do list done. Here is how you can start putting boundaries into your life to have more of a life:
Schedule non-negotiable stuff into your day as early as possible
These types of things include; exercise, checking email, programming time etc.
My week includes daily exercise at 5.30am (you don’t have to do it THAT early!). I check my emails after breakfast around 7am, 12pm and 3pm. I have my work time scheduled for 1-3pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. Simply scheduling these things as early as possible makes it more likely that they will get done. Also add your most important tasks to your list early in the day so you have more energy and focus to do them well.
Set a time limit on your tasks
Research shows that a task will take as long as the allocated time. If you are sitting down on a Saturday morning to write up learning stories or reflections but have not given yourself a cut-off time, you are likely going to be sitting there at 2pm still going. If you start a task allow yourself a realistic amount of time to do it in. If you haven’t finished by then, pack up and move on to something else.
I know that when I only have 30 minutes to write an article I am SUPER efficient. If I have the same article to write but have nothing scheduled after it then it could take me 2 hours.
Schedule in the fun stuff too!
While you are setting your boundaries and scheduling your week, make sure you schedule in things you love to do. I love reading non-work related books. Since I have set boundaries around my day I always allow an hour to read something I’m passionate about. I also add in time to just sit at the beach. Life is about living, it is not just about working.
Stick to it
It will take time to create this habit. Most likely you have been working so hard for a long time. Learning to be more efficient and scheduling tasks may take a bit of time to create it as a habit. Be patient and keep your diary on hand. Once this becomes a habit you will be getting more done in less time.
What are some of your strategies to reduce the time you spend on work stuff?