Creating Boundaries to Improve Your Workflow

Creating Boundaries to Improve Your Workflow

Jen Lawrence
Jen Lawrence

Business Process Consultant focusing on streamlining workflows, optimizing tools, and aligning teams for operational efficiency and effectiveness.

What is the most neglected part of workflow and business strategy development?

In my experience, I’ve seen a variety of mistakes from overcomplicating the system, integrating too many assumptions, and not documenting the intent or justification for decisions. But there is one area that is a sure-fire way to sabotage your ability to deliver:

Creating clearly defined boundaries.

We hear this all the time and to an extent, we’re kind of tired of it. Because often we fall into the “easier said than done” mentality. We don’t believe we can assert our boundaries, especially the ones that mean the most to us, due to higher authorities in our life or perceived expectations that have been taught to us.

But when it comes to getting work done or achieving our goals, how likely is it that you maintain motivation, commitment, and enthusiasm when you’re working under misaligned circumstances?

And the greater challenge, if I were to ask you about your current project or goal, would you be able to tell me what your boundaries are?

I know plenty of people who can explain to me what they want to do, what they will do, and even how they will do it. Unfortunately, there are far fewer who can explain to me what they won’t do. That’s the piece we’re not supposed to think about – let alone talk about, right? 

What makes the whole boundary-setting issue stickier is that most of the time, we won’t assert our boundaries until they’ve been crossed – which gets totally uncomfortable and into a whole other mess of emotional tension. Hello, Conflict, my old friend…

So let’s try factoring in boundaries to your initial game plan and asserting them from the beginning. This will save us a ton of energy, time, tension, stress, etc from the get-go.

Consider these commonly forgotten boundaries that change your entire productive experience: 

+ Who do you typically struggle to work with and would like to avoid in the future? This is meant to be and shouldn’t be used as discrimination. Instead, it creates hyper-awareness around possible relationship tension that you may not want to welcome into your space.

+ When are you best equipped to work? When is the best time for you to be productive vs having meetings? 

+ How will you measure and manage capacity constraints? How much time are you expecting to dedicate to this project/goal/service? What happens if you’re going over that expectation? How will you keep track?

+ What communication styles and techniques work best for you? What are response time expectations for different types of communications? Consider how connected you are via phone, text, chat, emails, and task management tools. How can you direct people to work with you?

+ What is your risk tolerance? As we take on big goals and venture into new territory, consider your risk tolerance. Knowing what you aren’t comfortable with – what’s too far – whether it be emotionally or financially, will help guide you.

Now, please don’t think you’ll know exactly what you don’t want from the beginning. We can’t account for all boundaries, and often, we won’t know we had a boundary until someone has crossed it. The trick is… what are you going to do when you realized that’s a no-go zone for you? Simply put document it, including the situation that lead to it and how it made you feel. Then make the necessary changes to implement and prevent it going forward.

What other boundaries would you add that should be considered? What boundary do you struggle to assert?

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