Caught any trespassers lately?
Last week we explored two different types of boundaries: those which are so porous they fail to keep out things which ought to be kept out, and those which are so rigid they fail to let in things which ought to be let in.
Fortunately, there’s a third type of boundary which combines the best of these while avoiding the worst, and that’s the intentionally strong boundary.
When you have this type of boundary in place to safeguard your business success, what does it look like?
- Your dedicated business-development time is protected from thoughtless interruptions, time wasters, and seductively shiny objects designed to scatter your focus.
- Simultaneously, your mental filters are open to new opportunities that tie in well with your overall strategic plan for business growth and prosperity.
- Both these happen as a result of your being crystal clear on what you’re working toward in your business, that is, the highly desirable outcomes you’re creating for your clients, your family, and yourself.
What’s in it for you to have these firm boundaries in place?
- Your confidence and personal power soar, because you know you know you have clearly defined criteria about what (or who) will be allowed to make an unscheduled appearance in your day.
- Your effectiveness and productivity skyrocket, giving you a leg up (maybe two) on your competition.
Productivity requires conscious choices.
So how do you go about establishing these firm yet flexible boundaries?
Start by evaluating your current boundaries.
Are some porous, allowing in distractions and productivity robbers? Are others rigid, preventing you from seizing – or even seeing – opportunities that would be valuable additions to your current business development activities?
Tighten up any porous boundaries.
This typically involves setting up ways of dealing with (or, ideally, circumventing) interruptions.
- Create a physical space that minimizes interruptions by closing your office door.
- If family members (both two-legged and four-legged) are an issue, consider investing in co-working space away from home.
- Turn off auditory notifications of incoming emails.
- Don’t even open up Facebook or Twitter unless and until you’ve deliberately moved onto a business-development task called “develop reputation as thought leader through strategic use of social media.”
Loosen up rigid boundaries.
This typically involves developing an attitude of critical curiosity about people/activities/tools that come your way.
- Use the big “why” that powers your efforts to evaluate whether that purpose will be served or hindered if you add something unexpected to your plate
- Ask yourself, “What if?” when presented with a new opportunity. “What if I move ahead on this? Will it complement my existing business development? Will it require me to drop some activities I’ve already strategically chosen to implement? Is it likely to provide a better ROI than my existing activities?”
- Make strategic use of “Yes, but,” as in, “Yes, I’ll give this a try, but if it doesn’t pay off within X amount of time, I’m dropping it.” (Yes, I know that in last week’s post I cited “yes, but” as a possible indicator of rigidity, but I’m citing it now as a way to fight rigidity. The difference lies in whether you use “yes, but” unthinkingly or strategically.)
- Keep a reminder in plain sight of what you want to accomplish, why, and (in broad terms) how. I went low tech on this for myself. I simply taped a handwritten, 3 X 5 index card to the pencil holder right next to my laptop screen; on it, I listed my Big Goal for 2015, my Big Why, and three Broad How-To’s. This provides an incredibly easy-to-apply litmus test for any activity I’m considering spending my valuable time on.
- Get into the habit of critically assessing your productivity and effectiveness on a regular basis – twice a week at a minimum, or every day ideally.
Can you clearly identify what you accomplished each day? If not, chances are excellent that you got seduced by shiny objects that will do nothing to propel you to your goals.
Did you schedule time for business-development activities – AND actually follow through on those scheduled tasks? If you don’t schedule these important-but-not-urgent activities, they’re far less likely to happen.
Did you feel comfortable in saying “yes” to some things that tapped at your boundaries and “no” to others? If so, woohoo! You’ve developed a clear sense of what you have the right and the responsibility to allow into your business world. If not, woohoo! You’ve identified a growth area that, when addressed, will decrease your stress and improve your results.
So what have been your experiences with establishing and maintaining strong yet selectively permeable boundaries? Is this easier said than done? Have you found some particular approaches that make it easy to protect the resources you need to succeed? Please share whatever you can to help the rest of us tackle this potentially big honkin’ challenge.
Or are you so torn by competing demands on your time and attention that strong boundaries are more of a fairy tale than a reality? If that’s the case, I wonder if we should talk a bit.
My specialty is showing entrepreneurs who are up to their adenoids in options how to decide which options make sense for them, toss the rest aside, and start taking action on what makes sense for their business. Would it suit both of us to work toward that goal? Maybe. Maybe not.
The only way to figure that out is to spend a bit of time getting acquainted by phone. By asking and answering some questions, you’ll walk away with far greater clarity about what may be tripping you up, and we’ll both have a good sense of whether or not we’d make a great obstacle-removing team.
If that sounds worth exploring, let’s set up that get-acquainted call. Just let me know some times you’re available by calling me at 319-270-1214 or by emailing me with “It’s time to get strong!” in the subject line. We’ll spend enough time talking to come to a confident, mutual decision about moving forward now, later, or never in this lifetime. ☺
(By the way, thanks to Mike Boucher for posting his image of the stone wall in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in productivity and tagged effectiveness, personal power. Bookmark the permalink.