Time Boundaries

How do you relate to time? 

Are you someone who’s always late or meticulously early? Do you schedule yourself within an inch of your life? Do discrepancies in your relationship with time ever create conflict with others?

If you’re nodding your head, then this episode is for you, my friend. I’m breaking down time boundaries and how they can become disordered. You’ll also learn how to better negotiate time boundaries with yourself and others for a more harmonious relationship with time (seeing as how it IS just a construct in our minds!)

Prefer the audio? Listen to it here. 

Time is the only resource we can never get back, so getting into a healthy relationship with it is so important. Having disordered boundaries when it comes to time can wreak havoc in your life and negatively impact your relationships, your career, and your wellbeing.

It’s not just about being anxiously early or perpetually late either- there are many ways disordered time boundaries can express themselves in your life. 

If you’re honest with yourself, do you give your time away to people who aren’t in your VIP section and don’t deserve it? At the end of the day, do you feel like there’s no time left for you? Do you overestimate how much you can get done in a day or in an hour?

All of these are examples of having a dysfunctional relationship to time.

This is a topic close to my heart because when I first met my husband, Victor, I definitely had an intense hang-up with being not just on time, but WAY early for everything. If I wasn’t super early to things, I would get anxious, angry, and upset. It was definitely a control issue, and it became an even bigger issue when I fell in love and decided to share my life with someone (hi, Vic) who was always late. It drove me absolutely bonkers (like sitting in the car honking the horn like a lunatic bonkers 🤣). 

We both had disordered boundaries when it came to time. Therapy helped us understand and work through all this ( for the full story, watch the video here), but if we hadn’t gotten under the surface of what was actually going on, we might still be arguing about it today, 25 years later. Now struggling over time is basically a non-issue in our life. 

If my experience resonates with you, just know, that there are things you can do to improve your internal and external boundaries with time. The first step is to understand the underlying causes contributing to any dysfunctional behaviors in relation to time. 

It is valuable to look at the physical, biological, and psychological reasons we can have trouble with time. Mental health challenges like anxiety and depression and neurodivergence like ADD and ADHD can affect how we experience and relate to time. 

It is also important to take a look into what you witnessed growing up in your family of origin. What did you learn about managing time as a child? I had a client whose mother consistently made her late to things all through her childhood, and because she felt so unempowered and angry when she was young, she grew up to be extremely conscientious about being on time. 

There are many people who mirror the behavior of a parental impactor or family culture where being late almost becomes a part of their identity and they don’t even question it. They might carry the same fights around time into their adult relationships, acting out the same conflicts they saw growing up. 

If you struggle to be on time, there can be a lot of judgment- especially in professional settings. You might be incredibly competent and capable at what you do, maybe you’re the best of the best, but if you are perpetually late, it compromises you. If you are showing up late to a meeting, apologizing and sweating, and rushing– that’s YOU already knocking yourself down a peg before you even start. 

Here’s the thing: you can choose to create a sacred, healthy, mindful relationship with time, no matter what you witnessed growing up. Effective time management and boundary setting is a skill set and takes practice, but it is so worth it. 

If you are someone who is neurodivergent, there are strategies you can use to set yourself up for success. Does everyone else at work start at 8? Build in buffer time for yourself and start at 7:30. Do you get so involved in a project that you don’t realize how much time has gone by? Start setting timers on your phone so you get external cues when it’s time to move on or start another task. 

If you have real psychological and/or emotional blocks, it’s not laziness or a lack of effort on your part and there are things you can do to help improve your relationship to time. I put more resources for you in the guide, so be sure to download it here

Are you someone who overschedules yourself or overestimates how much you can get done in a certain period of time? If you are constantly overbooked and have no time to breathe, I want you to consider that you aren’t able to bring your best or fullest self to anything or anyone. Can you prioritize taking breaks each day or leaving open space on your calendar to simply breathe and be? 

Inside this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you some steps you can take to create a more balanced relationship with time plus some questions to help you get more clarity about underlying causes. We all have our own reasons to relate to time the way we do and understanding them makes it so much easier to change for the better.

Be sure to download your guide here now. 

I hope this added value to your life and I wanna know- what are your time boundary issues? Leave me a comment here or connect with me @terricole on Instagram!

I hope you have an amazing week and as always, take care of you. 

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  1. I am having a situation currently with my therapist. She is constantly late for our FaceTime meetings, but weekly confirms ahead of time our regular timeslot. This has been going on for the past year. The first few weeks this happened we spent my hours talking about my feelings and boundaries around this issue. I was clear with her about how I felt. She responded back that my issue was ridged control issues and lack of flexibility. We finally came to what I thought was an agreement. In order to be flexible I would give 15 minutes leeway time for her tardiness- after 15 minutes I would not be available and expected that billing would not occur. This pattern of tardiness repeated weekly from 5-13 minutes late but never getting past the 15 minutes boundary I had set until this week. I’ve listed to this blog on time, as well as your insight-timer series on boundary setting.
    I am willing to meet with her next week a long as she calls within our agreed timeframe- I am also willing ( even though it is extremely awkward) to have further discussions about “time boundaries”.
    Any suggestions??????

  2. Terri, I was uncomfortable listening to this podcast, but only because it hit home with me. For much of my life, I overscheduled myself and was chronically late. One of the things that changed when I had a stroke 7 years ago was my relationship to time. I realized quite accurately that getting ready to go, getting to the car, and getting into the location was always going to take longer, so I automatically add 30 minutes to an hour to my trips now, and I no longer overschedule myself. My relationships are better, I am not as harried, and I feel better about myself. I don't want to apologize for being late any more and to upset others and have them think of me as a thoughtless person who is chronically late. I get caught every once in awhile at the last minute with an interruption, but I seldom take a call or look at my emails before I leave. I also allow myself at least an hour to prepare to go somewhere, and longer if I need to eat first. No more grabbing food on the run and putting on my lipstick in the car. I cut myself more slack and I see this as one way that I take better care of myself and respect my time for myself as well. Thanks for the reminder…it gave me a reason to pat myself on the back for improving.

  3. Thank you so much Teri for your beautiful insight and wealth of knowledge. I learn something from you every time I tune in. For me I’m always running late. Thinking about it deeply I see that when I’m under pressure to get out the door it motivates me to move. For me it’s a lack of energy and motivation! Unless of course I’m excited about the person I’m meeting or the experience I’m heading out the door for. I can see what you mean about the anger and stress of being late can cause. Showing up on time is called respect. Thanks again x

  4. What got me interested was the thought that I have not made time for myself to BE on time, to come prepared. You have made yourself angry (hiding behind your cultural value) by calling someone else's lateness unprofessional. I let myself down being late, you by being early and not checking out your own anxiety, and somehow, your talking about this can make it better – because it makes us more aware of what we choose to focus on, in order to not feel good. Hmm. Thank you!

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