Boundaries or Why I Have a Bed Time Again

mental boundaries

For the past two years I have been working on herbiwarrior as my first entrepreneurial project (as you probably know since you are reading this). It has been a lot of fun and very rewarding. I can’t remember ever learning as much in such a short amount of time as I have in the two years of working on this project.

However, during that time there were several moments in which I was ready to give up. Why? Because I was stressed out of my mind. It turns out that being an entrepreneur also has many downsides such as lack of a steady paycheck, the need to organize everything yourself, or your family being worried about “what the boy is up to now”.

For me personally it is also the lack of a scheduled workday. Ironically, I miss the 9 to 5. These past two years I have kind of been making it all up as I went along. I got up and went to bed at unsteady times, my schedule was constantly changing, and overall my life was characterized by an absolute absence of routine.

As a consequence I was always working. I could never switch off. Even when I was lying on the couch I was thinking about work. Since there was no distinction between work time and leisure time there was always something I could potentially be doing. Needless to say this has been a tremendous drain on my mind, concentration, and energy and I was ready to throw in the towel more than once.

I am not alone in this. In our times when technology makes us available 24 hours, one of the hardest things is to take a break. Our lives are filled with interruptions and requests from all sides and via many channels. It’s no wonder our workdays are spilling over into our private lives.

Introducing boundaries

I personally realized that if I want to keep going, I need to reclaim control over my life. As a first step in that direction, I have decided to introduce brackets to my day. I get up and go to bed at the same time, start my workday at 9am and end it at 5pm. This gives me a frame into which I can and have to fit my day, with numerous positive effects on my life.

Reclamation of leisure time – While before I was often living in some sort of gray zone, neither working nor really relaxing, now there is a clear distinction between those two levels of activity. When the work day is done, it really is done. I am free to decompress and use my time as I please without a fixed agenda.

Improved focus at work – This has been a convenient byproduct. Since my work hours don’t spill over into my well deserved time off, I need to get everything done beforehand. Since tasks will swell up in complexity the more time is given to them, setting myself a deadline forces me to get rid of inessential clutter.

Improved sleep – While suffering from insomnia in the past, my new schedule has done wonders for the time it takes me to fall asleep. When before I would lie awake for an hour or more after switching off the light, now I wake up the next morning without any recollection of what happened after the room went dark. I had read of this approach before (it’s called sleep hygiene) but failed to implement it so far.

More stability – It’s great to see how big an effect this small change has had on my life. I have built myself a basic and reliable framework from which I can take further measures to improve upon my life. And even though it seems more rigid than before, I actually experience more flow because my life feels more stable.

Of course this framework does not work one hundred percent of the time. With so many things outside of our control, you need to allow for flexibility in this approach. However, it’s a good base to start from and I encourage you to try it out for yourself.

What gives you a sense of stability? Do you keep to a certain schedule? Or do you have a completely different approach? Let us know in the comments.

Important! We are currently working on new product ideas for herbiwarrior and would like for you to participate. If you ever purchased anything from this site you can expect an email with a friendly request for assistance soon. More on that in the next post.

image source: flickr

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