No matter how many books and articles I read about the journey of the world's most successful leaders, one principle they all seem to have in common are clear boundaries. We live in a plugged-in world, where high-performance leaders often do not know when it is time to create boundaries to help them continue to elevate.
I remember when Arianna Huffington gave a talk years ago and stated that it was a lack of boundaries that led to her overworking and experiencing a traumatic fall in her office, which led her to create boundaries around the need for rest. It was a wakeup call for every attendee. Also, Twitter and Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has an uninterrupted morning routine of unplugging himself from the world for an hour to walk five miles to his office, so he can have clarity and focus for the day ahead.
For an ambitious business owner and leader on the go, it can be challenging to grow your company while attempting to discern and prioritize all of the tasks that are thrown your way each day. However, every leader eventually has a moment when the lack of clear and defined boundaries creates major conflicts both personally and professionally. There are four boundaries you must consider if you want to grow as an effective and productive leader.
1. Time Boundaries
I used to be guilty of accepting every call, responding to every email, and attending every networking event. After months of saying yes to everything, I realized that I was not taking care of myself. The feelings of fatigue and exhaustion began to take a toll on me, and it was a clear sign of a need for change.
When you are in control of your time, you prioritize tasks on the basis of importance. It is essential to create time boundaries so you can protect your personal time as well. Every task and request is not a priority.
2. Financial Boundaries
Everyone is shopping for the best deal, but your company must always focus on becoming the best solution, which may come at a premium. One of the boundaries you must establish up front is a financial boundary.
I receive hundreds of message requests each week on various social media platforms asking me for advice, 20 minutes of my time to look over something, or to answer a how-to question. Most of which I am unable to respond to without a commitment. It is how I value my time and the investment of other shareholders who have invested in me as well. The financial barrier is also honoring your time boundaries.
3. Social Media Boundaries
Do you have too many notifications popping up on your phone? How many times per day are you scrolling through your timeline? How many IGTV or FB Live sessions are you watching during the day?
It is time to turn it off.
Post and get back to business. It is essential to set specific times throughout the day to check your social media feed, instead of every time an alert goes off. My rule of thumb: morning, noon, and night for 15 to 20 minutes each day. That gives me a total of approximately one hour of social media time each day at three times per day. It limits the constant distraction and creates support for my tribe, without interrupting productivity.
4. Personal Time and Recharging Boundaries
Make clear, non-negotiable personal time and rest a priority. Whether it is making time to spend with family or a dinner date with friends, make it a weekly priority. You need time to unwind and refuel in order to remain effective.
I call it "unplugging from the matrix." Every workaholic needs to have fun once in a while, and setting aside time to prioritize others is part of the growth process. I often just enjoy walking around the mall with my family, as it is a great way to unwind from a stressful week. Spend time having unfiltered fun and laughter, and make sure your team is aware that you are not available, unless it is an emergency.