Whitney recently spoke to members of the Worked Up community and shared advice on how to take back your time when life gets chaotic. Worked Up is a community of women on a mission to close the gender gap in the workplace and empower leaders by providing women from all backgrounds equal access to opportunities they need to thrive in their careers. Along with sharing tips for taking back your time, Whitney answered questions about managing up and setting boundaries.
How do you effectively set boundaries at work so you can focus on top priorities?
Whitney says the key to setting effective boundaries comes down to communication. This often means learning how to manage up. Your manager is responsible for leveraging your time so you can add value to the organization from the beginning, especially if you’re new to an organization. But, since managers are busy running a team and focusing on their own role, you have to manage up through effective communication. You can start managing up by having candid conversations with your manager in your regular check-ins or status meetings. If you don’t have regular check-ins with your manager, you need to schedule them so you have a consistent opportunity to connect.
In these conversations, it’s important to make sure you and your manager are on the same page about priorities. Discuss your upcoming projects and assignments and ask for clarity about which tasks are high priority. By touching base consistently, you can avoid spending a ton of time working on something that’s no longer a priority. If your manager wants you to complete ten things and you feel you only have capacity for seven, you need to articulate any trade offs and share any new opportunities or solutions you see to help get things done. Make it clear to your manager that some tasks will need to be deprioritized in order to make time for the priority projects. Holding these conversations effectively will make you look thoughtful, professional, and show that you’re thinking ahead.
Managing up and setting boundaries also means respecting your time — and asking others to respect it, too. Many people have managers or colleagues who regularly schedule meetings outside their working hours or on top of other appointments. With the increasing shift to working remotely, this has become an even more widespread issue. When this happens, it’s important to reach out and have a candid conversation with the person (or people) who aren’t respecting your schedule. Assume the best — they may not be able to see your calendar or they may be unaware that you’re in a different time zone. If that’s not the issue and they continue scheduling meetings that conflict with your calendar, you can politely tell them that you won’t be able to attend the meeting at that time, but you’re happy to work with their schedule to find a time that works for everyone. When you start to respect your time and prioritize how you spend it, other people will, too. At the beginning, it may feel like you’re frequently having to push back, but with clear and consistent communication you’ll be able to set healthy boundaries around your time at work.
Showing up and doing your best work is an important goal for your career. But, we live in a culture that values overwork and so many people end up running themselves ragged while never getting any closer to the life they truly want. Instead of being pulled in a million different directions and feeling like you’re on the brink of disaster, you can make the shift to maximize your true potential professionally while also showing up in your personal life. With expert guidance and support from Whitney, you can get clear on the goals that matter to you most, build the path to achieve them, and stay on track to becoming the person you’re destined to be. Schedule an application call with Whitney today if you’d like her help to Take Back Your Time.