Many people report difficulties setting boundaries and drawing clear lines. This may be affecting your performance as well. Does it seem to you like there’s too much to do and not enough resources? Are you constantly worrying? Is there something you need to say to someone that’s weighing on your mind?

When you don’t set boundaries, making it clear what you are willing to take on and what you expect to leave to others, you are not taking care of yourself. A clear set of boundaries is necessary so the most important things are getting done, and not in a “putting out the fire” sort of way.

When you’re able to say “no”, you free up energy to focus on what you need to do. For example, someone who tries to do it all, who has trouble delegating, inevitably takes on too much, and nothing seems to get done, or at least not well.

I had a client who was chronically late, taking on all manner of tasks that could have been handled by others. She didn’t recognize the impact her lack of boundaries had on others. A practice I suggest in these cases is setting a clear, measurable goal that’s easily attainable. In her case, I encouraged her to focus on being accurate with her time commitments. For one week, she kept track of her on-time average, which she could starkly see was weak. This led to another practice, that of saying “no”. By setting that clear line, she was able to be accountable for those things she could accomplish, the consequence being she was more effective in her life.

You can use the tool of drawing a line as well. For example, if you have issues around food, write down everything you eat for a week. This discipline can help you focus on meeting other important goals. Or you could remove a food from your diet for one week. That takes discipline, too!

Try setting aside 15 minutes of silent time each day for a week. You can also set up disciplines around money, possessions, fitness and language. Another useful tool is figuring out your comfort level around saying no to requests that take up your time and say no three times more for a week. For example, if you’re easily able to turn down three requests, say no to nine.

Setting “the line”, that goal of keeping track of some behavior, helps to bring up the energy of setting clean boundaries.

I would love to hear what you are practicing this week!