The Secret for Work-Life Balance Is Simple: Time Boundaries
If you’re constantly responding to people and having your time dictated by others, it can feel like all you do is work.
I recently coached a client who was in a state of overwhelm. She’d finished a site visit and lost her car in the parking ramp. While searching, her phone rang and she answered. It was an upset resident. My client attempted to tend to the resident while searching frantically for her lost car.
“Why did you even answer the phone? You couldn’t find your car.”
My client responded, “I don’t know. I just felt like I had to. It’s my job.”
After we unpacked the situation, we were able to see the big picture. My client admitted the tenant’s concern was not truly an emergency. And, if it was a true emergency, other protocols were in place to ensure the resident could get the help they needed. The fact that my client couldn’t find her car in a downtown parking lot at 7pm was an emergency. She by attempting to multitask, she sacrificed her own safety.
This is a problem. We’re so married to our jobs that we’re unable to let the phone roll to voicemail. We’re trying to hard to keep up that we’re responding to texts and emails as if they’re do-or-die situations (when they rarely are). This prevents us from being present to what is truly important in the moment.
What is a time boundary?
A time boundary is a time limit for work that you set. If you don’t create time boundaries, there’s no way to manage the amount of time it takes to complete tasks or projects. When we’re not managing our time, we’re far more likely to give it away freely – often without a second thought. When we don’t set limits on how much we are willing to work outside of work, it comes at a cost to the rest of our lives (family, friends, or hobbies). Before you know it, work has consumed our lives.
What types of time boundaries can I set?
We can set all kinds of time boundaries. Here are a few of my favorites:
- I can decide how much time I’m willing to work at night.
- I am in charge of how many weekends I am able to work.
- I can be intentional about how much time is dedicated to email.
- I can set expectations that meetings don’t run over the allotted time.
- I choose to limit distractions and notifications while working on projects.
- I create conditions for when staff after-hours communication is appropriate and when it can wait until tomorrow.
Having poor boundaries is a vicious cycle
When we don’t set boundaries on our time, others will expect we will act as we always have. So, if you’re emailing at 8 pm frequently, others will then assume you are available for their needs at that hour.
We perpetuate our own over-working by continuing to overwork.
Constantly responding to others at any hour indicates you are there to solve their problems. In some cases, it prevents others from learning to solve their own problems. Think about this: If more people took responsibility for solving their own problems, there would be less email and more solutions.
Consider the types of emails you’re responding to a night. Are they truly emergencies? In many cases, no. With each email we send, we invite a response to come back tomorrow morning. Sure, it’s great to keep the ball rolling. But there’s no use trying to sprint a marathon. You’ll burn out. Pace yourself.
Having great boundaries ensures you’re actually living your life
When we’re clear with ourselves about when we will and will not work, we open up more space for the rest of our lives – the good stuff! Boundaries improve the skill of being intentional with our time. When it’s time to be with the kids, we’re actually fully engaged with our children. When it’s time for some self care, we’re actually caring for ourselves. When it’s time for our hobbies, we’re actually being creative.
When we have time boundaries, it is often easier to manage our time. We know how much time something will take and – more importantly – what can wait until tomorrow. This increases the efficiency of our workday. Being efficient brings joy to our job.
Have you ever had a day where you crushed every hour? You get to come home, kick your feet up without any guilt because you know you did the best you could. We feel less inclined to give more of our time outside of work when we know we gave it our all during normal hours. This is what creates work-life balance.
Today’s Tip: Focus on results, not time
If you choose to work outside of office hours, here’s a tip to try out.
Focus on the result you’re investing in.
When you flip open your laptop at night, have a clear answer for the question, “When will I know I am done?” It’s too easy to open the laptop and get sucked into doing, doing, doing.
Decide ahead of time: What is your intention or goal for this time?
- If the intention is to finish payables, then do just that. Don’t respond to email.
- If the intention is to complete a report, then do just that. Don’t poke around Yardi.
- If the intention is to clean up your inbox, then do just that. Don’t start working on projects that can wait until tomorrow.
Once you have achieved the goal… turn it off. You hit the finish line. You did the work, now enjoy your life.
Time boundaries create clarity on what’s truly important
When time is the first thing we sacrifice, it’s harder to prioritize. We can’t focus on what truly matters if our time gets sucked away from us like a vacuum cleaner.
If you’re always looking at your email or checking social media while working instead of focusing on one task… you need more clarity.
Time boundaries are not meant to feel comfortable at first. They will require us to push through our default behavior of always giving more time than we really have. Being uncomfortable and scared that we may miss something is normal – which is why I offer a free deep dive consultation to explore how to do it.
Everyone has the opportunity for true work-life balance – that includes you. The consultation is free and there are absolutely no strings attached. If you want to work together, we’ll discuss next steps. If it’s not a match, no big deal!
You can be an outstanding property manager and still have time for a life outside of work. Even though you’re on call 24/7, it’s still possible to create the lifestyle you want (without overworking or overcommitting yourself).
Are you struggling to balance work, health and life?
You're not alone. Many property managers struggle with the same challenges. I help career driven property managers who are ready for a change and want to live their best lives.
Book your free one on one call today! Within an hour we'll get you on your way to gaining more control and balance in your life.
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