By Julie Holunga
Let’s grab coffee! How’s next week?
I’d love to pick your brain; can we get together this week? Lunch is on me!
Can I get five minutes of your time today or tomorrow?
Can you put this monthly meeting on your calendar for the next few months to make sure you can join us? You’ll love it, I promise!
Phone calls, texts, e-mails all requesting my time. Daily occurrences. Nice requests. Generous (?) offers to buy me a $4 coffee (which I don’t drink) or maybe lunch. Depending on the day, I read these requests in not-such-a-positive way:
Can you take two hours out of your day, away from your priorities and other commitments, to meet with me? I NEED you!
I like to help people. I think about others’ needs and how I can add value to them. It’s in my nature, and in my name. And yet, these days, as a business owner and mother (i.e.: chauffeur, chef, and punching bag), my time is my most precious commodity. It’s not one that I can expand. A few years ago, I asked my cousin what he wanted for his birthday:
Not something you can give me. I desperately need more time in my day.
Yes, don’t we all? A simple request. We can’t build more time in the day. Or can we? Working with my coach (yes, coaches have coaches) I realized I can create more time in my day, week, and month. And here’s the secret…setting boundaries. The easy part is setting them. The hard part is enforcing them. I still find myself saying at times, “Just this once I’ll speak to a client on a Friday.” And at times that is okay – if I am traveling or taking time off. It’s not simply about creating more time in my day. In fact, I’ve realized that when I stick to my boundaries, I create space in my brain. Space to think creatively, problem solve, research new content, or learn something new. I up my game. And when I come off the wagon and my boundaries are completely ignored, I am not at my best. I don’t engage and connect as well with my audience. I am forgetful. I make mistakes. I don’t listen as well to the stories of the important folks in my world. Oprah says the combination of preparation and opportunity creates luck. Opportunities are at my doorstep. Without boundaries, I don’t have the other piece of the equation – preparation. Here are some of the boundaries I’ve put in place:
  • Trainings and meetings with clients and prospects two days per week.
  • One meeting or call on Mondays.
  • No meetings or calls on Fridays.
It takes significant effort and focus to stick to these. And it doesn’t always work. A client will request I conduct a training on a Monday. I am offered a great opportunity to speak to my ideal audience on Friday. When that happens, I make exceptions that work for me. Not others. My priorities stay at the top.
Thank you for the invitation to lunch and coffee. I really like connecting with others and building relationships. I also love being with the people that matter most to me. In order to do that, to prioritize them, to prioritize ME, I need to schedule time with you next month. Thanks for understanding!
What boundaries do you need to set to keep your sanity? — Julie Holunga is an executive business coach who trains and develops small-medium size business leaders, attorneys, and CPAs to bring their careers to the next level. Originally published on  

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