Time has taken on a weird, bendy quality in these pandemic days. Quick quiz: Without checking any available resource – do you know what day it is?
People tell me the lines between work time and non-work time (and school time and family time and every other kind of time) have blurred and bled into one another in a crazy grid of insanity.
We’ve never been busier even though we have no commute.
We’re swamped although we don’t leave our house.
We’re burned out while all we’ve got is time.
It’s a time warp.
The other day a client told me that she’d spent eight and a half hours in back-to-back Zoom calls. When she finally lifted her head from her computer screen, her family had made dinner. She ate, then promptly fell asleep on the couch. Where she stayed until she woke up the next morning and got ready for her 8am Zoom call.
A friend shared that since she’s monitoring her children’s studies during the day, she works well into the evening. “I’m pulling more hours than ever, mostly because I feel so guilty about parenting during the work day,” she said.
Let me lay out a few facts for you, just as a reminder:
- We are in a global pandemic;
- As I write this, it’s only getting worse;
- We’re in an economic downturn;
- Which, as I write this, is only getting worse
It seems to me that we can all use with finding a way to manage our time, our selves, our stuff better. Fortunately, I know exactly how to do it.
Set some boundaries.
No doubt, you’ve heard those three words strung together before, said by me or by a million other well-meaning folks. “Set some boundaries, set some boundaries, set some boundaries” – like a droning mantra.
Sets your teeth on edge, am I right?
I know, I know: You haven’t done it because boundaries feel so harsh and self-centered.
And they might very well require you to say no.
Which feels very icky.
Because you’re a person who says “yes!” Happily, with an exclamation point or two.
Boundaries, you fear, may make someone so angry that they will never, ever, ever speak to you again.
To which, I say: Maybe that’s a good thing in a pandemic. One less person in your bubble. #Justsayin
Boundaries work because they allow you to know where your edges are. So, let’s think about one that’s easy to set and could help you a ton. Ready?
Your boundary is simply saying, “That’s it. I’m done with work for today.” And then push back from wherever you’re working in your home to do something else.
That’s all you have to do.
You can say this at any time of the day you want to say it. Personally, if I get an 7:15am start with my first client of the day, I’m pushing back from the desk at 4pm.
Which means that from 4pm on, it’s Michele Time.
I read books, I take walks, I exercise, I chit chat on the phone with friends and family, I cook, I watch TV, I listen to music, I eat.
I store up my energy for the next day.
Now some of you dear readers are saying, “Fine for you. But I have a JOB and other people have access to my schedule and put things on my calendar and I’m getting paid more than my dad ever got paid and there’s a shaky economy and I can’t lose this job so I need to hustle and never say no and deliver, deliver, deliver.”
All I can say is that coffee is probably not helping you.
I also can say that I have a JOB and people have access to my calendar and put themselves on it and I’m also getting paid more than my dad ever got paid and all the rest.
I still set boundaries.
When you believe that you cannot set boundaries due to external pressures, you are giving every bit of your power to those external forces.
It’s OK to hustle. I am all about the hustle. Just do the right kind of hustle.
The kind that fills up your tank, not the kind that depletes it.
And hustling within boundaries you set for yourself fills up your tank.
Start small by deciding when your workday is over and push back from your desk, knowing that you’ve hustled enough for today given everything you’re experiencing and enduring.
Give yourself and everyone else around you a break by saying, “That’s it. I’m done for today”, and go about your life.
This pandemic will end one day. It will all become a misty watercolor memory and no one will remember that on a certain Monday in October you pulled a 15 hour day.
But you’ll always remember the toasty crunchy feel of the burnout you experienced because you didn’t set a simple boundary. That knowing will stay with you forever.
#justsayin #onemoretime #setaboundary