Setting Boundaries & Dealing with Overwhelm – How “Chunking” helped me value myself & my time

by Robin Kramer of Flourish & Thrive

"Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Time" print by Ross Moody

Image credit: “Too Many Ideas, Not Enough Time” print by Ross Moody

Have you ever had those days when you just wished you could clone yourself because you had so much to do?

I still have those days, but happily they are few and far between. It took me a long time to learn that time management is really self-management. I’m a yes, person. I love helping people and had no problem putting someone else’s needs before mine. That was until it started to affect everything I was doing or rather not doing.

We all have been on airplane and heard the announcement “in case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop. Put on your mask first before helping others with theirs.”

This is the best visual that I can have to remind me that I need to first take care of myself before I can take care of others or in the case of buisness, be truly available and present for my clients.

My need for pleasing others started when I was a child. My “aha” moment of when I needed to make some changes came when I was working for Williams-Sonoma, Inc.. My job title was new store coordinator and I was responsible for all of the openings, closings, remodels and relocations of all retail locations for all concepts. I loved my job and it kept me plenty busy. One day the EVP of operations walked by my desk and casually asked me to take on customer relations/service for all retail concepts. He was so nice and I was so eager to please that I said, “Yes” without even consulting my boss.

It was a done deal, I had said yes, and couldn’t turn back. According to my EVP the customer relations job was to be around 2 hours a week. Well, it turned out to be a full time job. So there I was working two jobs, but being paid for one and going bonkers trying to get everything done.

I finally cried uncle after a year of doing both jobs. I was given the choice of either job and after taking a reasonable amount of time to think things through (something I had never done before), I decided to take on the customer relations’ job. Funny, the new store coordinator job was then broken into two positions. That’s when it hit me – I had been doing the work of not one or two, but of three people. My employer valued me and knew that I was a worker bee, but I needed to start valuing myself. My fear of saying no created unrealistic expectations for myself and I was so stubborn that I didn’t want to ask for help until I was at my wits end.

OK, so I got it – I needed to value myself, but how was I going to do a better job of that? The one tool that really helped me to do this was my calendar. I had a great boss that sat me down and told me to calendar everything I had and wanted to do in a week including exercise and time with friends. It sounded a little extreme at first, but once I started to put everything on a calendar something magical happened, I could better evaluate what I was capable of doing in a week.

During this time, I had a team of people I was managing and with my calendar I had scheduled hours for them. I also scheduled time for emails as well as conference calls. The demand of my job didn’t change, but by calendaring everything, I was able to tackle my days with much more ease and sanity. It also helped with me to draw boundaries. I found that people responded well when I would tell them “I am available at this time” instead of “whatever time works for you.” I believe that they respected me more because of my boundaries. What I thought would be a turnoff to people, didn’t even phase them.

I sure wish I knew all of this before my experience at Williams-Sonoma, Inc., but I was and am grateful to have the knowledge now.

Whew, OK so that’s a lot, but it is SO IMPORTANT to put your oxygen mask on first. I still love calendaring everything and I have learned that by calendaring my time and setting up proper boundaries for myself I am not only able to accomplish more, but I am able to acknowledge my worth and value my time. Working 24/7 is just that working 24/7. It doesn’t mean you are going to get more work done or that the work you do get done is going to be good. By taking care of yourself you are guaranteed a healthier and happier life and career.

Now, It’s time for you to Calendar your time.

Create a checklist of things you want to include in our schedule. For example:

  • Exercise
  • Volunteering
  • Conference Calls
  • Meetings
  • Emails – reading and sending
  • Calls – returning and making
  • Professional Development/Additional Learning
  • Revenue generating activities (like sales calls)
  • Dinner with family

We want to hear from you

  • Do you know your worth?
  • Do you value your time?
  • Are you creating boundaries?
  • Are you ready to take care of you first?

Please share your thoughts and answers in the comments! Also be sure to join us this Thursday, September 27th,  from 1-2EST for an #OMHG chat with co-hosts Robin & Tracy on time management strategies, dealing with overwhelm, and the questions above! 


  1. Great post. I’m much better about blocking my time out now and about saying no, but I, too, had to be replaced by three people after leaving one of my old jobs. I had been thoroughly miserable there, struggling to keep on top of things, but I just assumed that was how everybody’s working life was – it was a real wake up call when I realised the first woman who took over from me just said, “No, I can’t do all of this,” and nobody batted an eyelid.

  2. Renee says:

    It took me a long time to realize that putting together a calendar schedule is key! I started this a few months ago and I cannot believe how much more productive and efficient I am now. I still feel extremely overwhelmed most days and often wish I had a clone, but I know things would be much worse if I did not have this calendar. Great article!

  3. Amy Rene says:

    Boundaries, valuing your self and your worth, time management. I also took years to realize chunking my time into realistic blocks helped me feel like i was living my life instead of struggling through a long list of to-dos. Thank you for a great post!

  4. Oh man, this is kind of what happened to me this last summer! I was working at an awesome job I loved full-time and running my own business “on the side” which meant I worked 15 hour days, every day, no days off. When I finally had enough of the juggle, I scheduled out my tasks and I realized that what I was doing was basically impossible and ended up quitting my job to focus on my business. This is only my first week but it’s so much better now!

  5. This is just a spectacular post. I’ve been there and at first it’s flattering to know you are so valuable that they have to split you job into 2 pieces. Then you realize that you’ve failed at respecting yourself and your value, not to mention the lack of modesty. This is going to be a FAB #omhg chat! Can’t wait!

  6. Tina Francis says:

    This is great advice – I have been using my filofax religiously this year and even yes stopping to check it when someone invites me or wants me to do something. It’s all too easy to let emailing and twittering (I call this research!) get in the way of actually making and selling things. I

  7. Geri says:

    Great post! I work really hard at my time management skills & found that it’s really different when you excel at them while working for someone else, but not so much when you work for yourself!

    I had to turn my skills on their head & rethink the whole thing, but I think I’ve worked it out now… I’m fiercely protective of switching off work to be with my family, which in turn takes care of me 😉

    Can’t wait for the chat today!

  8. Modupe says:

    Oh my word – this post is so on point for me! I just timetabled my time after reading Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews and it has really made clear to me what I can and cannot achieve time wise, whilst trying to juggle homekeeping, a full time job and a small biz.

    Tina, I am totally with you on the filofax (love) and ‘research’ points!

  9. You hit the point right away. I’m getting myself reorganized right now and I can surely see the benefit of scheduling everything. I can accomplish so much more than I could before – and I even have time to have coffee with a friend, work out and go to the movies.

    I’ll be following your blog even closer from now on – now that I have the time to do it 😉

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