Boundaries, Scheduling and People Pleasing…

Anyone who knows me even peripherally… knows I’m a prolific scheduler!

Aspects of my work and personal schedule were mapped out for 2016 two months ago!

Going back to the days of the multi-ring binder Franklin Planners and the Palm Pilot…or even my college planner…I’ve used scheduling primarily as a way to-

  • set my intention for my time;
  • get a visual image of my day, week, month or year; and
  • create mental, emotional and physical space for tasks, social events, clients, my own appointments and even family time.

I schedule my morning workout; meditation/prayer/gratitude journaling; even what time I’ll eat lunch (usually represented by a blank space of about 1.5 hours if possible). I schedule brunch and lunches with my friends weeks (sometimes months) in advance.

The truth is I don’t strictly live by this schedule, however its existence and this practice has ushered in significant shifts in my work/life.

It makes me more aware of when I am robbing myself of something that matters to me by engaging in what might also be a meaningful event but is not directly connected to my intended purpose for that time.

I Often Meet with Entrepreneurs!

I often meet with entrepreneurs (Therapists and Coaches) who naturally relate to their time as their money.

In an attempt to make money they (we) have been known to schedule people and events at times that are not ideal and don’t work for our life or our well being.

It’s often not until years and years of scheduling:

  • back to back clients (sometimes 5 in a row);
  • 15-20 minute lunch breaks (or no lunch at all);
  • and little to no administrative time to write notes or other perform other general documentation/billing…that people begin to reconsider their practices or suffer the natural consequences (burnout, compassion fatigue and perhaps even health related problems of one’s own).

We typically come to this “new” perspective on our schedules from a place of depletion. These colleagues often begin to reconsider why they became their own boss. They begin to seek help from other over-scheduled, yet somewhat wise (smile) colleagues.

My advice to them is consistent

  • don’t let everyone else dictate your time;
  • don’t schedule clients 5-6 days a week (especially if you are only seeing 1 to 3 clients each day);
  • instead decide what you want your schedule to be; and
  • offer people appointments based on your planned schedule. Sounds simple, right?

Sometimes you will extend these boundaries, but it should be the rare exception.

Therapists and Healthy Boundaries

As therapists, having what we call “healthy boundaries” is essential, without them we:

  • become depleted,
  • give too much of ourselves away (often with no pay or no deposit in our own reservoirs).

Our desire to make sure everyone else is okay, becomes an impediment to our own “okay-ness.”

My color blocked schedule is a reminder of my “free time,” my prep time and my service time.

There are certainly days when a prep day becomes partially or totally a free day or vice versa. I started scheduling two preparation or buffer days about 6 years ago based on the model presented by Dan Sullivan of the Strategic Coach.

I made a decision about what keeps me happiest in my work and happiest in my giving to others.

The next frontier for me involves being more efficient and  focused on my prep days. When I’m “on” it’s “on” and there is no one more productive…when I’m “off” it’s “off” and it can be tough to get on track.

Creating a To Do List

At those times a clear desk and a clear inbox are the best places to start. From there I create a “to do” list and then prioritize my tasks based on what is-

What does your schedule – or lack thereof – reveal about you? I’ve recently discovered not everyone is as preoccupied with their schedules as therapists! Go figure…

Copyright © 2015 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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