Last week I wrote about the need to have and maintain good boundaries. This week, I share a few kinds of boundaries that are particularly useful for those who want to make art or write.
When I’m writing my articles, I work best in public. I love writing at Watercourse Foods, my favorite Denver restaurant. They don’t have Internet access and on Thursday mornings, there’s just enough activity to allow me to keep my focus and enjoy being around others.
Other spatial boundaries may include – a closed door, special lighting, music, a ‘Do not disturb’ sign, software that shuts away distractions.
A weird one that works for me – no books on the desk.
What boundaries define your creative space? Jot them down now.
Time is the boundary that’s most often breached. We often fail to recognize the preciousness of our time and allow others to ignore this border again and again.
Common breaches include:
- Allowing others to waste your time by becoming a passive listener to their monologue.
- Letting others’ casual relationship to time make you late.
- Speakers or presenters who do not start and end on time and worse, offer no apology or explanation.
- Trying to fit one more thing in and then being chronically late.
What time boundaries need shoring up?
This is a huge arena for boundary breaching. The vast and seductive online world is amazing and life-changing. But if we don’t have boundaries around our time online, we dissipate our energy and diminish our creative power.
Choose a boundary around your online time. My friend Lisa Call limits her Facebook time to ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. This allows her the connection and pleasure she gets from her community, while keeping her focus on her own work.
What are your boundaries around online time?
Work or project focus
We often breach the boundaries of our own focus when we’re pulled away by a ‘bright shiny object’. Straying from our initial commitment and letting ourselves be ‘all over the place’ is a boundary violation. This one is particularly insidious, because we think following our passion is a good thing. In reality, we’re degrading our self-confidence by not following through on what we committed to.
Knowing your focus and commitments can help a lot to know whether you can add more. Use my ‘plate mapping’ technique to be clear on your current and long-term focus.
What helps you stay focused long enough to finish projects?
We’re often surrounded by those who aren’t our ideal people – co-workers, fellow commuters, strangers we randomly encounter.
When someone intrudes on your time, space and attention, politely extricate yourself and stay on track. While I am open to random interactions with strangers, if the other person is draining or annoying, I feel no need to be held hostage to their conversation or energy.
Say no. Say no, thank you. When someone suggests a collaboration that leads you to stray from your focus and vision, politely decline. Don’t feel the need for long-winded explanations or excuses. No is a complete sentence.
Sadly, there are often people in our lives who no longer belong there. Limit or eliminate your time with them. If you’re stuck with them – bosses or relatives – create a boundary around how much time and attention you give to them in your mind.
Don’t endlessly replay their faults, don’t succumb to dramas instigated by them, don’t give them any more space than is necessary. (Easier said than done, I know!)
What people do you feel violate your boundaries? What conversations can you have to shore up your borders?
Batching your time is a powerful boundary that can exponentially increase your productivity and satisfaction.
My days are divided among my various roles: on Monday, I work on my novel. Tuesdays and Wednesdays of the first and third weeks are for my clients. Other days are devoted to work projects. I don’t respond to emails or phone calls on the weekends, and I shut my computer down at least an hour before heading to bed.
Take a look at your schedule and see how you can batch or time-block activities to create boundaries that work for you.
Shore up boundaries around your creative time so you can enjoy and complete your work with less struggle.
What are your boundaries? Take some time to identify the shores of your creative time. Share them with us here.