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Yesterday, one of my team members came to me for some advice (and help). He has several projects in his backlog that require his project management attention and design engineering attention. I remember the feelings I had when I was in a similar position many years ago. I often thought “Where do I start?” and “How do I keep all these plates spinning?” My team member constantly gets phone calls from customers and installation staff with “urgent” requests for assistance. This is a problem many project managers face, and the problem has only gotten worse in today’s “Gotta Have It Now” world where we are all connected instantaneously through smart phones and email. We have conditioned our customers to expect an immediate response. This isn’t all together bad. After all, we want to bring a superior level of customer service to our customer base. However, without appropriate boundaries, we set ourselves up for failure. We will never accomplish the important things, because we are busy attending to the urgent things.
You may disagree with me, but I suggested to my team member that he shut his email and his phone off for a period of time to focus on some of the things on his “To Do List” that needed attention. Before lunch and before the close of the day, he can turn them back on to check in on any messages that he may have received. This will give him the chance to get work done and then to address any “urgent” needs of his customers.
We all need boundaries in our lives. As a matter of fact, I would suggest we need to practice the discipline of boundaries in our daily lives. Boundaries mean thinking through the list of goals you have and creating fences around your time and your commitments to make sure you can hit these goals. Boundaries also protect us from going to unhealthy places in our lives.
I would challenge you to consider what boundaries you need to set in your life. What needs to go? What needs to stay?