Let me start by asking you a question – how good are you at setting boundaries, of any kind, and sticking to them?  If you’re like most accountant moms, it’s probably something you struggle with on a regular basis.

There’s no shame if you have an issue with setting boundaries because as young girls we are socialized to please others and to be “good girls’ by saying yes more than we say no.  In episode #159 – How To Set Better Boundaries – I discussed some of the misperceptions about boundaries and how to set boundaries with other people.

That episode was mainly about other people’s behavior and putting yourself in control of what you will do when someone does something you don’t care for.  The key to remember from that episode is that a boundary is what YOU will do, not what the other person needs to do or stop doing.

If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I highly recommend it.  The reason a lot of us don’t set better boundaries is because we don’t know how and we’re afraid of the repercussions if we do – episode #159 addresses all that and will help you to expect that the conversation might be uncomfortable for you and the other person, that you need to communicate your request and give them a heads up, and that you need to let their reaction be okay.

While you might resist the idea of setting boundaries with other people, this episode is all about setting time boundaries with yourself.  It’s about learning how to take back control of your time, create more time, and better manage your time in a way that will benefit not only you, but your family as well.

When you can learn how to set time boundaries and commit to them, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about your day.  The reason I wanted to do this episode is because when you set time boundaries you improve your relationship with time, you honor your values, you get clear about your priorities, and you create a balanced life.

By learning how to set and commit to your time boundaries you make it much easier to have a balanced day, week, or year, and you lessen the fatigue that comes with making too many decisions about how you spend your time.  And one of the best benefits is that you also improve your relationship with yourself, because when you honor your commitments to yourself, you strengthen your self-confidence.

If you feel like your time is not your own and you’re constantly wishing there were more hours in the day, time boundaries might be just the thing you need.  Not only will you have much better control over your time, but you’ll also be able to get more done in less time, making it possible to add even more hours to your day.

But before I start, let me just say this – don’t let this episode be one that you just listen to and move on.  I really want you to take in what I’m sharing and put it into practice.  Don’t consume the information and do nothing – I want you to take action as well.

This week I’m going to discuss what time boundaries are, how to set them, how to commit to them, and why it’s important to honor other people’s time boundaries as well.


What time boundaries are


I was recently coaching a colleague who had received an email from her boss that she wanted to be coached on.  The email said they needed to discuss an upcoming project and that it would probably require extra hours from her, but that she would be compensated for the extra time.

This colleague was frustrated because she only wanted to work 30 hours a week and did not want to work extra hours, even if it meant more money.  She was so used to saying yes to her boss’ requests and was overwhelmed with the prospect of saying no.

When we spoke about the boss’ request, she said her boss had done this many times in the past and she had always conceded but this time she was not on board with the request.  When I asked her if she had ever set any time boundaries she said she hadn’t, and that she didn’t have any idea even what that would look like or how she would go about setting one.

I explained that a time boundary is a limit you put on your time that is non-negotiable, it honors what you value, and it is set with love for yourself, not to upset someone else.  A time boundary is something you only need to negotiate with yourself – then you just need to inform others of what your time boundary is.

For this colleague, she valued her time with her husband, with her grandson, and with a coaching program she was involved in that she wanted to dedicate more of her non-work time to.  She had no problem giving 110% to her job during the 30 hours a week that she worked for the company, but she didn’t want to do any more than that.

Once she decided that her time boundary was 30 hours a week and no more, I was able to coach her on the conversation she was going to have with her boss.  She eventually decided that she would go to the boss, explaining that she’d be happy to work on the upcoming project but that it would either have to fit into her 30 hour a week commitment, or the boss would have to find someone else or take something off her plate to make room for the project.

When we spoke the following week she said she was nervous to set a time boundary with her boss but it went really well.  The boss knew how valuable she was and in the end, actually decided that the project wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

But what if the situation didn’t unfold the way this one did for the colleague I coached?  What if the person pushes back when you set a time boundary?  Then what?  First let me explain how to set a time boundary and then how to handle it if someone pushes back.

It’s important to understand that it doesn’t matter whether you’re setting a time boundary due to someone else’s expectations or yours, if you want to have more control of your time, you have to start learning how to set time boundaries and how to stick to them.


How to set a time boundary


Whether you need to set a time boundary around things like meetings for work or around cleaning your house, if you want more time for what’s important to you, you have to set limits on your time.  Time is our most valuable commodity, especially as mothers, and if we’re not careful, it will be hijacked by other things and other people.

So in order to start setting time boundaries, you first have to get clear on your “Why” – why is it important to you to set a boundary around your time?  This first step cannot be overlooked because it will be your saving grace when you are tempted, over and over again, to throw in the towel and overstep your own boundary.

If you’re anything like other hard working accountant moms, you’ve put work before things that are actually really important to you.  You probably have well-intended boundaries around your time, but just can’t seem to stick with them.

This is the reason why you need to make it a priority to have a clear, unshakeable why.  What’s your why?  Why are you setting a time boundary?  Why is it important to you?  You need to be clear so that you can keep coming back to your why when you want to waver or overstep your boundary.

Some of my why’s for the boundaries I set around my time include being able to support the CPA MOMS community, time for my husband and our relationship, time for my children, time for myself, time to write, and time to learn.  Since balance is my #1 value, my time boundaries are created to support my why’s and my non-negotiable value of having a balanced life.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an accounting employee or entrepreneur, you have to decide what’s important to you.  Who do you crave time with?  What do you crave more time for?  In order to set a time boundary you have to know why you’re doing it and it has to be a compelling reason.

For example, my “why” for getting up everyday around 4:30 am and not complaining about it (most mornings), is that I love how much I can create and how much I can get done before I have to get ready for my accounting work.  I love how much better my week goes when I make this wake up time boundary a non-negotiable.

My time boundary at work is leaving by 3:15 pm every day and not bringing work home with me.  My commitment to this time boundary means I get more done than anyone else in the office while I’m there and I don’t give in to others’ expectations – my expectations of myself are more important than anything else and those expectations include sticking to my time boundaries.

I also go to bed between 8:00 and 8:30 pm almost every night.  That is a non-negotiable time boundary because my why is that I cannot be at my best if I don’t prioritize sleep – when I feel rested, I feel energized and unstoppable.

Most recently I was asked to take a course so that I could be able to offer a service to some clients.  When I added up the hours it would take for the course, for the learning, and for the application, I decided it was just not going to fit within my time boundaries – if I said Yes to that, I was going to have to say No to things that I value.

So what I suggest is that after you’ve gotten clear on your why’s, it’s important to also get clear on your top 3 priorities, in the order of their importance.  This will make it much easier to set time boundaries, especially in those areas where you’ve struggled the most. 

Here’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to your time – every choice you make with your time is saying Yes to one thing and No to another.  If you are saying Yes to something, what will it cost you?  Is it worth it?  What areas of your life do you value, that you need to prioritize more?

The next time you are tempted to say Yes to something or someone, think about who or what you’re saying No to.   Too often we react in the moment because again, as women, we’re socialized to make other people happy, but getting clear on your why and your priorities will make it much easier to set and stick to time boundaries.

So in the example with the colleague I had coached, if her boss had pushed back on her time boundary what could she have done?  If that had happened I would have coached her to get clear on why her boundary was important (if in fact it was), to like her reason for her decision to set a time boundary, and to accept that there might be consequences, but that doesn’t mean the time boundary shouldn’t be set.

The best way to handle the potential consequences of any decision is to go to the worst case scenario in your mind – what if the boss said no?  Then what?  Anticipate that happening and decide now, how you would handle it if it happens.  What would you say?  Do you want to compromise and is there a compromise that might work?  If not, then No can just be a full sentence, without the need for guilt.

Here’s another thing that might help when setting time boundaries, especially as an accountant – author Michael Hyatt says, “Solid boundaries serve as guard rails to our productivity”.  As accountants, we’re not only striving for productivity, but also efficiency, so take a look at what others that you admire are doing, notice how they are setting up their time boundaries, and borrow their approach if that would help.

As they say, success leaves clues, so look at what’s worked for others and it might help give you examples of what’s possible for you as well.


How to commit to a time boundary


Once you’ve gotten clear on your time boundaries, the next step is to actually set them, practice them, and commit to them.  Get specific about what it would actually look like to set a boundary and to follow through on it.

For example, my time boundary around getting 8 hours of sleep a night when I want to get up at 4:30 am means going to bed around 8:00 pm, watching something relaxing on my phone, and then falling asleep around 8:30 pm.   I also have a time boundary around spending time with my husband so we typically watch TV together from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm – even if he gets home from the gym late and we don’t sit down to watch something together until 7:45 pm, I’m still committed to going to bed around 8:00 pm.

I know I cannot be at my best and do what I do each day unless I honor my time boundary for sleep so that’s pretty much non-negotiable unless we have something special going on or we’re on vacation.  Again my #1 value is balance and sticking to this time boundary allows me to have incredible balance in my life.

So what would you like your time boundaries to look like?  Get specific.  What’s important to you?  What do you value?  Begin by setting 1 or 2 time boundaries and dial them in before you take on more.  As you get more and more comfortable setting and committing to your time boundaries, and you start reaping the rewards, the easier it will be to set more.

As you get clear on your time boundaries, a great way to commit to them is to share them with others so they can help keep you accountable.  It’s easy to give in when you’re only accountable to yourself, so let other people know what you’re doing and ask them to help you stay accountable, even when you want to argue.

Managing your mind before you set a time boundary, when you’re verbalizing it, and then afterwards in order to stick to it, is incredibly helpful.  It helps remove the tendency to feel worried or feel guilty.

Honestly though, you really don’t need to have anyone hold you accountable to a time boundary because the feeling of committed is only ever created by the thoughts you choose to think about the time boundary.  When you learn how to manage your mind, committing to time boundaries isn’t as difficult as you might think.  


Why it’s important to respect other people’s time boundaries


Now that we’ve focused on your time boundaries, how to set them and how to commit to them, it’s time to talk about other people’s time boundaries.  Whether you realize it or not, respecting other people’s time boundaries teaches them how to respect yours.

Just think about the last time you asked someone to do something for you and you didn’t respect their time boundary.  Think about when someone had time set aside for one thing and you wanted them to do something else.

Maybe your husband likes to watch football on Sundays and you kept nudging him because you wanted him to do something with you or for you.  Or maybe someone at work was focused on something that was a priority to them and you threw a monkey wrench in the mix by requesting they do something else, even though it wasn’t really a priority.

The truth is that we cross other people’s time boundaries all the time, but unfortunately, every time you do that, you’re disrespecting their time and how they’ve chosen to spend it.  The more we can honor other people’s time boundaries, the easier it will be for them to honor ours as well.

So the next time your son gets all his homework done so he can play video games with his friends before dinner, learn to respect his time boundary so he’ll learn to respect yours.  And the next time your friend says No to the invitation for dinner because she has a time boundary around family time on Friday nights, respect her time boundary instead of being annoyed or disappointed.

Hopefully you now see the importance of setting time boundaries and that if you want to have more control over your time, you need to start setting and committing to better time boundaries.  I promise you that by learning to prioritize what’s most important to you, you can begin to live a happier, more balanced life.   




  • By learning how to set and commit to your time boundaries you make it much easier to have a balanced day, week, or year, and you lessen the fatigue that comes with making too many decisions about how you spend your time.
  • One of the best benefits is that you also improve your relationship with yourself, because when you honor your commitments to yourself, you strengthen your self-confidence.
  • If you feel like your time is not your own and you’re constantly wishing there were more hours in the day, time boundaries might be just the thing you need.