Boundaries: 4 Practical Ways to Separate Work and Life

In the article, Your Mission Begins with Boundaries, we discussed the necessity of healthy boundaries. Boundaries are a tangible way that we show our faith in God to handle the aspects of our work that we cannot control. Instilling boundaries in our lives affects us physically and spiritually as we walk out our vocation and volunteer where we expend a large amount of time and emotional energy. Boundaries are a spiritual discipline that allows us to care for ourselves well, and the growth and maturity of the people we are blessed to serve. Boundaries also allow us to care for our families and personal lives well which is our first responsibility.

Here are four practical tips for putting boundaries in place:

(1) Organize and be willing to delegate. Organize your work to do only what you can to do. Enlist volunteers to prepare materials, make copies, sort snacks, and do pre-cutting. That is one of the benefits of being an Orange curriculum user. The curriculum frees up ministry leaders to cultivate relationships and develop kids, students, volunteers, and partner with parents.

Take time to evaluate how much time is spent on each task. Are there meetings that you are attending and leading that someone else can do just as effectively? Ask yourself: “Is this task something I have to do or can I delegate it?” Before adding a task to your to-do list, ask yourself, “Is this something I must do?” If it’s not, delegate it!

(2) Use the calendar and set time limits. Place time limits on tasks. This includes phone calls, discussions, meetings, emails, report analysis, EVERYTHING! This is especially important if you’re like me and tend to obsess over analytics and details. Setting time limits before beginning a task prevents us from becoming engrossed in one of the day’s objectives. Calendaring those items also assist with being able to visually see what you realistically have time to complete. It is tempting to only calendar things that directly impact other people’s schedules. However, even the work you are doing alone is still impacting somebody, even if that somebody is only you.

Put all your tasks on a time schedule and you can analyze where your time is actually going. Knowing where your time is going informs where you might need more staff or volunteer assistance.

(3) Stop working when it’s time. When you’ve delegated all you can, know when to cut the work clock off! Set your text messages to “do not disturb.” When you get a chance, you can check them and respond if necessary. Put on your auto-reply on your work email. Include in your auto-reply a date that is a few days out from your return to respond to all emails. This will ensure you do not spend your first few days back in the office answering emails. Have a second contact for individuals who might have a question while you’re out, and those issues might be resolved when you return. Pause or even uninstall your social media from your personal smart device. Boundaries require us to unplug from the noise of life that pulls for our attention so that we can refocus on the things that are most important.

[bctt tweet=”Boundaries require us to unplug from the noise of life that pulls for our attention so that we can refocus on the things that are most important.” username=”orangeleaders”]

(4) God’s grace is sufficient and readily available. Realizing that God’s grace extends beyond our capabilities and time constraints help us install boundaries without guilt. Boundaries require us rewiring the sentiment, “If you want something done right then do it yourself.” It requires us to trust other people to complete tasks that we really want to oversee. It requires us giving God time to work out the emergency in another person’s life by using someone else who is available and willing to help. It frees us from having to rescue things that are out of our control.

The realization of God’s grace allows us to implement boundaries because we eliminate our need to be everywhere for everyone. Never using God’s grace as an excuse for complacency or bad planning, but we grow to recognize our limitations, and when we’ve reached it we are comfortable with allowing God to fill in the gaps. Then we can better balance work and family, putting things in their proper placement and allowing adequate time for both.

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