More About Boundaries

A New Relationship with Your Stuff and Schedule

A month from now, how do you want your life to be different? Think of one or two ways that you’d like to change your personal or professional life. Got your answer? My guess is that many of you would like to decrease “overwhelm.” The “overwhelm” associated with too much stuff in your physical space, too many tasks in your schedule or too many thoughts in your mind. If that sounds like you, read on for how to achieve better life-flow.

Photo by Carbon NYC.

Let’s start at the beginning. An overture is the beginning of a performance or the opening of a new relationship. Minding Your Matters® will help you create a new relationship with your stuff and your schedule by introducing you to our proprietary Flexible Structure Method™ of organizing and productivity. Just like natural progression of any relationship, in the beginning there are new discoveries, a “get to know you” period.

As time goes on, in order for the relationship to mature changes have to occur. If the relationship is to stand the test of time, certain agreements need to be maintained. These same principles hold true if you want to achieve “flow” which is the blissful state of having an organizational process that supports your life and lifestyle.

The Flexible Structure Method (FSM) is a proven technique to facilitate productivity and organization with lasting results™. The seven components of this method are based on the idea that people want organization to provide structure in their current environment, but flexibility to easily modify these systems as their personal or professional life changes. The elements are interwoven but I will introduce them individually and then show how they are used most effectively. This article will introduce the first component.

Set Real Boundaries: Establish parameters in your physical space and in your schedule. These boundaries are appropriate to your situation.

Here are some examples:

Home: You own lots of books. They are on shelves, the floor, several nightstands, and a few tables. You haven’t read the majority of these books and you aren’t even sure what titles you own. Recently you discovered that you bought a book you already owned because you couldn’t find the first one. You have two bookcases in your family room and one in your bedroom. Your boundary might be that all books have to fit into the existing bookcases. This means you’ll have to delete some through donation or selling. Alternatively, you could purchase more bookcases if you have space to accommodate them.

Office:You have office supplies on your desk, in every desk drawer and in a box on the floor. You’re not sure what you have because when you can’t find an item in the first place you look, you tend to buy more. Now you have lots of duplicates but still can’t find what you need when you need it. Establish certain spots for specific categories of supplies. One desk drawer (with drawer dividers) has small items: paper clips, staples, sticky note pads, etc. One corner of your desk has supplies you use each day: stapler, writing utensils, scissors, etc. Refills for these supplies might be in the same drawer as the small items. One shelf contains larger supplies: legal pads, printer paper, mailing labels, etc. If supplies don’t fit within the designated boundary, then they can’t enter the office.

Photo by mrstg.

Schedule: Your schedule is full with work, family and friends, responsibilities and other personal or professional activities. You’re always running from one place to another and feel you can’t catch your breath. Your boundary might be that you can’t take on any new volunteer activities until you finish one of your current projects. So if someone asks for your help before you finish “that project” you say, “My schedule is full right now, I know you’ll find someone else for the job.” Obviously you can use whatever phrasing feels comfortable for you. But if you have a phrase ready, then it is easier to keep your boundary.

Here are some questions you can ask to help set real boundaries:

How often do I use <item>? Keep quantity in proportion to amount of use.
What am I willing to do to stay within the current boundary? Delete items through donation, selling, recycling or trash?
What am I willing to do to extend the current boundary? Pay for new furniture or a storage unit?

Start by choosing a couple of places or times to set boundaries. Once you feel comfortable maintaining those boundaries, you can add a few more.

Find it difficult to set real boundaries? It’s okay to ask for help from friends, families or professionals. The important point is to get started so you can achieve better life-flow this year.