Boaders, Containers, & Focus

Boundaries, Containers & Focus

Now that we understand what happens when someone pushes our “oh shit” button, and we have a better plan for moving through and moving on, how can we apply this to our hectic days and lives. 

Honor thy boundaries. Contain it. And let that ambition, focus, and purpose shine!

If you’re still with me, you’re autonomous, a self-starter, a leader in many places in your life, and you don’t take complacency as an answer. 

I remember when I thought “taking a break,” or “not seeing something through,” was what (and I kid you not) “the studio and lazy people do.”

 Ooff, the labeling, and judgment were ripe and so too was my constant state of stress.

This can lead to some pretty hard-core burnouts and breakdown. (and medication). 

Now I know, I can only do certain activities for a certain amount of time, done or not (think bookkeeping and emails).

Other activities need a chunk of time and no rules (like writing this blog).

I need to sleep. I need physical exercise. I don’t need some of my favorite distractions or outdated diagnosis.

I need to listen to myself, trust my needs, be respectful of my boundaries – especially the first moment they show up and stay true to my purpose. 

It only took me 25 years to figure out how to do all that. The best part is, it’s constantly changing! 


If you haven’t heard this yet, please let me be the bearer of bad news: personal and professional development is your life’s work.


I totally thought that once I battled one demon and took the mic away from my inner critic, I was done……Nope.

Those dudes keep showing up, but in different outfits and at the most inopportune times. But I digress … 

The first thing any self-employed, autonomous worker bee needs are containers for their work.

When you limit your time to stay focused, you get shit done. When it can happen another time, or you’ll indulge this distraction and get back to the project at hand ASAP, you’re indulging your little ego and saying yes to outdated habits or strategies. 

Whether you block out time in 3-hour chunks (or weeks), or you chip away using the Pareto Principle (20 min on, 5 min off), pick a focus and stick it out until your timer goes off.

I promise the email can wait!

Whatever distraction pops up is a very subtle, very eloquent inner critic saying something alluring, REAL, and always a choice.

Simply ask for a little bit of shoosh, and remind yourself of the outcome you’re trying to achieve, and most importantly, how you will physically feel when that goal is in your hot sweaty little hands. 

Look at your to-do list. What has real deadlines? Like a publisher waiting on your first draft? Or a client waiting on roughs? Or quarterly taxes? I would say most of the time we’re pretty dang aware of the real deadlines, and our own deadlines. Block out some hours/days for these real deadlines. 

And I say this because I truly believe in procrastination!

Those last-minute pushes can yield some of our best work. But only when there are no interruptions. 

So get the life stuff out of your way. Don’t be trying to pay taxes and get client bids done at the same time.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re NOT going to stay up for 3 days getting the final presentation done AND try and pay your invoices, prep and run the team meeting, and cook dinner on Friday night. 

Once we have containers for the “have-to’s” and the real deadlines, we can play freely in between.

Chip away at the tasks where our focus wanes after 20-60 minutes. We can dive into the projects we want to spend the better part of a day or week rolling around in. 

But before you do ANYTHING ask yourself, How will I know I’ve been successful once I’ve accomplished this?”

Imagine it being done. How does it feel? What benefits will be realized as a result of its completion?

 Let those feelings wash over you, and then get started.

Bonus tip: what’s the next thing you can do to make everything else easier or potentially unnecessary?*

Now go, live your life, let the bullshit go, and create your dream reality. You. Can. Do. It. 

*Gary Keller, The One Thing

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