The Secrets to Setting Healthy Boundaries

healthy boundaries

“Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures.” – Edwin Louis Cole

In our busy-every-second world it hard to set healthy boundaries, but it’s important to do so in order to create the life you want and not the life others want for you. Setting boundaries that work for you will allow you the time to do more of what’s important.

Say no. When someone asks you to give of your time allow yourself to say no if you feel your life is already ‘busy enough’. Don’t feel obligated to give a reason, just be clear and simply with your response. Most people will understand. They probably asked you because they were too busy.

Know when to leave. Limiting the amount of time your give can also be a way to set a good boundary. Know that ‘end time’ to events and don’t stay passed that time. You can state that you can help/work/be there from 10 to 2 and then leave at 2.

Pull back. Determine how often you can be available to others without taking too much out of your schedule. Don’t let people ask you to do the same thing over and over. Show them how to do the task and let them know that now that they have learned it can be their responsibility.

Set a time for others. Set intentional boundaries by making a conscious choice when and where you are going to spend your time. Maybe schedule time on your calendar and only give to others during that day and time.

I have tons of free time, said no mother ever! Click To Tweet

That being said – I love the statement above. When I am talking about setting healthy boundaries, I am talking about outside the home. How much time do you do for others who are not family members? If you set different boundaries for those people, you’d have more time to devote to your family. Maybe you could help with homework before the end-of-the-day exhaustion kicks in, or maybe clean a room in your house or teach your toddler a new song or pay some bills. Whatever it is, be intentional with your time. You can’t make more of it.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Janet Barclay on December 21, 2020 at 6:49 am

    I find it hardest when someone asks me to do something I don’t have time for but I REALLY want to do it!

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Can you schedule it at a different time? You also could look at what is keeping you from doing it and see if you can change that.

  2. Seana Turner on December 21, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I think there is great power in knowing when to leave. Most of us struggle with this, and find ourselves stuck in activities and commitment that are not serving anyone well. It’s sort of like decluttering… there is a time to circulate things OUT!

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 9:47 am

      I agree Seana. I recently did a time audit on myself and deleted several “zoom” activities that were taking a lot of my time with no measurable results. I feel a lot calmer now that I don’t feel obligated and have some more free time.

  3. Kristin Zucaro on December 21, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Time auditing – great idea! I’m going to borrow that… and I definitely understand the over-commitment to zoom activities. Change begins now! Thanks for the tips!

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      Great Kristin. Small changes make a big difference.

  4. LISA GESSERT on December 21, 2020 at 11:22 am

    absolutely loved this, I love boundaries and love the need for them as well! I teach my clients the importance of boundaries as well. Excellent blog!

  5. Linda Samuels on December 21, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Setting boundaries is an essential life skill. And I can tell from the content of your post how much work and thought you’ve given to this for your own life. The first idea of saying “no,” is key. I remember once reading a post about the many ways to say no. That may seem odd, but for me, I had to learn this skill. The idea of saying no without explanation was new to me. But truthfully, it’s OK to say no without giving a reason. One way that I feel more comfortable with is, “Thank you for thinking of me, but no.” Perhaps that’s just me trying to soften the response. The idea with boundaries is that we all have different agendas in life or at a specific moment. So without knowing how to set boundaries and know your own priorities, you will easily get captivated by everyone else’s wants. And that’s OK if it aligns with your priorities. But if it doesn’t, it’s useful to find ways to create your boundary bubble.

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 12:15 pm

      I like the way you put it. Softening the response is OK, probably good, but you still get to NO.

  6. Sabrina Quairoli on December 21, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    As I get older, I realize how precious time is and how I value every minute of it. Saying to ourselves, “Is this the best possible way to spend my time?” before taking action helps us realize that it may not be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Ronni Eisenberg on December 21, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Setting boundaries can be hard to do but they’re necessary. They are necessary for our sense of self, and our happiness.
    My two favorites are, learn to say NO and Pull Back, Giving us more control over our lives. I’ve often told clients to create a “to don’t” list. It’s an eye-opener and it gives you back your autonomy.

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      I like the idea of focusing on your to-do list.

  8. Julie Bestry on December 21, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Super lessons. I’m good at setting boundaries for my time; perhaps a less adept at setting and maintaining them in other areas. I think the key is often to start with saying, “Thank you.” Saying no feels curt, but softening it even a bit helps those who have trouble accepting other people’s boundaries. When I was younger, I couldn’t conceive of not saying yes to everything I *wanted* to do, so I took every “no” personally. As an ancient one, I recognize that we must all protect our time to care for ourselves.

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Julie, you and Linda think alike. Saying thank you for thinking of me but no is a good way to lessen the blow of just saying no.

    • Janet Schiesl on December 21, 2020 at 4:02 pm

      Julie, you and Linda think alike. Saying thank you but no is a nice way to lessen the blow.

  9. Neena on December 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Janet,
    This is such an important lesson! I have gotten much better at setting boundaries over the years – but when my kids were little I tried to do all the things. Looking back I wish I had said no to more and focused more time with my family – but hindsight is 20/20. What I need to work on now is setting boundaries with myself. Sometimes I do need to stop doing the things I like to do and do a few chores every now and then. 😉

    • Janet Schiesl on December 23, 2020 at 6:58 am

      Neena –
      I’m in the same spot as you. I’m also trying to focus on setting boundaries with myself in mind. I need to create time to exercise so I’m a little more healthy.

  10. Lucy Kelly on December 22, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Thought provoking post and answers, Janet. I’ve learned to say, “I wish I could!” when someone asks me to do something that will drain me. I often DO wish I could, but I know I only have so much energy to go around. I’ve also reminded myself often that when I say no to one thing, I can say yes to another.

    • Janet Schiesl on December 23, 2020 at 6:59 am

      I agree Lucy. It’s all about your priorities.

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