5. Boundaries and Business

Mary Brown Boundaries

Looking for work-life balance? Wondering how to manage work time, family time, and personal time? Sometimes working women try to fit their work into the cracks of their lives so as not inconvenience anyone else?

In this interview with Business Coach Melissa Kellogg-Lueck, Mary and Melissa discuss what to do when someone needs you during your “working time” and how to decide when to make exceptions to your calendar?

Find more about Melissa HERE!

Main Episode Takeaways

  • I get to decide how I spend my time.
  • If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to?
  • Teaching people when to contact me and what constitutes an emergency.
  • How to decide when to follow my calendar and when to make exceptions.
  • How to build my confidence and learn to trust myself.

Want to learn more about boundaries?

– Boundaries IQ quiz HERE
– Take my Boundaries 101 Course
– Do you want to overcome your hurdles of people pleasing? Book a free call with Mary!


Mary: Welcome to Let’s Talk Boundaries podcast. I’m here with Melissa. Melissa, will you introduce yourself and maybe how we know each other and what you’d like to talk about today? 

Melissa: Yeah, so my name’s Melissa Kellogg -Lueck and I’m a marketing and mindset coach for women. So in my business I coach one-on-one and help women to really create great marketing strategy and then the confidence and courage to go for it. And we know each other through networking and just lots of women’s organizations that we’re involved with. And I think my biggest question that I would love to talk with you about today, or hear your perspective on is just around managing what I, guess it’s what I’m challenged with most is like managing work time, personal time, family time and making sure that all the things get done and that I also am able to take care of myself. Because I have this thinking like that my business or my work should never inconvenience anybody else. 

Mary: Oh, that’s a good thought. 

Melissa: And I know that doesn’t necessarily serve me, so I always kind of feel like I’m getting squeezed in the middle Right? Of like, my professional responsibilities and my family responsibilities and like taking care of myself in between all of that. 

Mary: Awesome. I love this topic. I think there will be lots and lots of people who can relate to it. I actually have this conversation with clients almost every day.

Melissa: Oh, that’s perfect. I played right into your hands. 

Mary: Cause especially working women, right? Women who have businesses or who have careers, we struggle a lot with what I call work life boundaries, Right? We’re looking for that ever elusive work life balance. Like we’re somehow like walking on a balance beam with like all of our life on one side, like our families and our personal life and then on the other side, there’s this heavy work over here, and then we’re just constantly like back and forth and like we have to have it perfect all the time and it should never inconvenience anyone, right? So it’s so relatable. I do wanna talk a little bit about this thought of like, my business or my work should never inconvenience anyone. Tell me more about that. 

Melissa: Well, I think that comes from like the early days when I was building my business and I had two little kids and my husband worked outside the home so when he came home, he expected that we were gonna have dinner. And obviously when you have little kids, they don’t really ask Mommy, is it okay for me to interrupt you? They’re like screaming their heads off, they need diapers change, you know? So it’s just like, I guess I kind of got used to fitting my business just into the cracks of my day, right? And then now as my kids are older and I’m scaling my business, I want to, you know, I’ve been more intentional about having more work time and my kids are at school. And so maybe that came in like when I was forming my business and that was just kind of the survival period of that season. But maybe that thought, that kind of habit just kind of stuck with me. I’m not sure. 

Mary: Yeah, I think that does happen. It sounds like, it’s a plausible explanation. So fitting your business into the cracks of your life? 

Melissa: And that’s no longer what I want. Like that’s not good enough. That’s not my intention with my business anymore.

Mary: Yeah. And how does it feel when you think about fitting your business into the cracks of your life?

Melissa: Well, it just feels like it’s, pretty low on the priority list. And even in those days I was able to serve my clients and get, meet all my deadlines and get done what I needed to get done. But I feel like if I think about taking care of myself, then it was in the even smaller cracks, right?

Mary: Mm-hmm. Like what’s the downside to fitting your business into the cracks and being in that survival way? 

Melissa: Well it doesn’t have a lot of focus or intention or attention. And so it was creating frustration for me because I wasn’t able to create the results that I wanted to because I wasn’t giving myself the time. I wasn’t creating that time for myself. I was like, Okay, if no one else needs me anywhere, then maybe I’ll work on my business. I haven’t showered, but maybe I’ll work on my business. 

Mary: I didn’t sleep last night. . 

Melissa: I haven’t eaten yet today, but…

Mary: I’ll wake up at five o’clock and do business right before the kids get up. That sounds like a fun plan. So should your business and your work inconvenience people? 

Melissa: Yeah. I think now, that it does. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. And you’re okay with that? 

Melissa: Yeah, sometimes. And sometimes I’m not able to say no. Like when there’s something going on, or, you know, when my husband walks through the door right there in my office and is like what are you doing? Let’s chat. Let’s catch up. And I’m on a deadline or something. Sometimes I might say I can’t talk right now, but most of the time I’ll take the time. Or if my, you know, siblings call me and wanna talk, or my mom wants to talk, or my dad needs me to take him somewhere. It’s hard to say no to some of that stuff. 

Mary: Yes, for sure. For sure. So sometimes your business or your work is going to be inconvenient for other people. That’s okay? 

Melissa: Yeah, I think it’s okay. Only if it’s okay with them. You know what I mean? Like if they’re like, Oh yeah, no problem.

Mary: Who do you think gets to decide if it’s okay? 

Melissa: I mean, I think it has to be a mix of both because… well, maybe it’s me taking in the information as to the severity or emergency of whatever the interruption is. And then I get to decide if that’s valid to me as far as an emergency. 

Mary: Okay. Which means you always get to decide if it’s okay. 

Melissa: Okay. 

Mary: Right?

Melissa: Yeah, that’s true. 

Mary: You get to decide how to spend your time. Always. A hundred percent of the time you get to decide how you spend your time. 

Melissa: Yeah. The people pleaser in me is like, Well, I don’t know about that.

Mary: I dunno about that. I’ll decide, as long as they are okay with it. 

Melissa: Yeah, if they’re not really peeved off at me, , 

Mary: It depends on how mad they are.

Melissa: Yes. 

Mary: So you always get to decide how you spend your time. Right? And so one thing I did hear you say that you did was establish some working times. Tell me more about that, because I like to hear that. Yeah. So when do you work? 

Melissa: So my work time, I’m usually in my office by nine. And then I’m wrapping up about five. I do my client meetings between 10 and 2. So I’ll have like four hours of client meetings and I try to take a lunch time. So that’s kind of my ideal schedule. 

Mary: Okay. When do you not work? 

Melissa: I don’t work on the weekends for the most part. Sometimes I’ll do like just internal office work on Saturday mornings or something, if nobody else needs me of course.

Mary: Do you work before nine o’clock? 

Melissa: Not usually, no. Because I have young kids that I’m getting off to school and making breakfast and packing snacks and all those things and walking the dog and yeah.

Mary: Do you work after five? 

Melissa: Not usually. 

Mary: Okay. Awesome. And what about this lunch?

Melissa: I love taking a lunch hour because usually it’s right in between my coaching calls. So it’s just a really nice way to break that up. 

Mary: So you said you try to take lunch? 

Melissa: Yeah, I don’t take it a hundred percent of the time. So what I do with my calendar, I plan out my calendar on Monday mornings and like I’ll look at, because I have a scheduling system like you do. Right? So other people can schedule their coaching appointments on my calendar. So I open up my calendar on Monday morning and I’ll like look at everything that’s scheduled on there. And if there’s room for lunch hours, then I will take them. I’ll just put ’em in then.

Mary: Does that work for you? 

Melissa: Um, usually unless there’s a day when I don’t get a lunch time and I have like six coaching calls and it’s intense. 

Mary: And then what do you do? 

Melissa: Well, I usually, I always have 15 minute breaks in between my calls so I will just run and grab something or have snacks.

Mary: So it sounds like you do have pretty established working hours, when you work and when you don’t work, which is great to hear. I feel like that’s kind of the first place to start with your work life boundaries. What about when you make exceptions for that.

Melissa: So yeah, I do make exceptions sometimes. 

Mary: Maybe your sister calls or your dad needs to go somewhere.

Melissa: Mm-hmm. . It’s really hard for me to say no to those things. I mean, obviously if I’m on a call with a client, I’m not gonna be interrupting that and answering, you know, another phone call. So I do have that as a boundary. But yeah, I mean as the holidays get closer, I feel like the phone is always ringing, like what are we gonna do about Thanksgiving and, my sister’s baby showers this weekend. So it’s like, what are all the logistics for that? We need to talk about it right now at 11 o’clock in the morning,

Mary: So what do you want that to be like? What are you okay with in terms of taking personal phone calls during your working hours? There’s no right or wrong here. You just get to decide. 

Melissa: Yeah. I think what I’ve noticed as we’re talking about this is, I do have really clear boundaries around respecting my client’s time, but when I’m not having clients, I have a lot of projects on my plate. Right? I have my own podcast, I’m launching a new program. I’m launching an event. And so it’s like I need to be working on those things because those really help me to develop my business.

So if I get interruptions during those times, that’s when I’ll take the phone call. Or I will say, Oh yeah, I don’t have a client for two hours, I can drive you somewhere. And those are times that I have planned to be working on writing emails or coming up with ideas or even having a lunch break or something.

Mary: Right, so when you do your scheduling on Mondays and you see where all the appointments are do you schedule appointments with yourself for the rest of the things you wanna do? 

Melissa: I’m trying to get better with that. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. So that’s one issue that I could definitely clean up. And then the other issue is actually just respecting that and sticking to it. 

Mary: Mm-hmm. So give me an example of what might happen where you would be tempted to not respect it and not stick to it. 

Melissa: Well, okay, So for example, today, I’ll just tell you my schedule today I had time this morning blocked off to be working on some of my other projects, because I didn’t have clients today as today’s like my CEO day.

Mary: Awesome. 

Melissa: So I had time blocked off to be working on some other things. And my sister called me, she needed some advice on some stuff and I had a lengthy conversation with her. And so that time is just like poof, you know? 

Mary: Okay. So did you want to have that conversation with your sister or did you want to be working on your project?

Melissa: Yeah, I mean, both I did because we really had some things we needed to address and so it was important. But at the same time, so are my other things now, I don’t know when I’m gonna get all that stuff done. 

Mary: Right, right. So, I guess you get to decide, right? Your boundaries are what you’re willing to participate in and what you’re not willing to participate in. So what were you willing to do when your sister calls? Was it, I’m gonna make an exception and like intentionally choose not to do what I had scheduled or what I wanted to do before this? Cause if that’s the situation, that’s okay. Yeah, give yourself some grace and some, you know, compassion that sometimes your sister might call and you might say, You know, I was working on this project and I’m going to choose to not work on this project and take this phone call for this amount of time, and I feel really good about that. And can I do that from a place of love or am I gonna feel resentful about it? Yeah. 

Melissa: I think, I never feel resentful like towards the other person, but I do criticize myself, you know? I mean, I think in this instance it was definitely worth having the conversation. I needed to have it. But like you’re saying I didn’t really need to beat myself up about it, or hang up the phone and be like, Oh, now see, I don’t have any time to do any of the things I need to do.

Mary: Right? So just be kind to you. Nice to my friend Melissa. 

Melissa: Yeah. And I think that point about just having some intention or, you know, making the choice and even if it has to be a choice in a moment and then respecting my choice and respecting myself for making the choice. 

Mary: Yes, for sure. Right. 

Melissa: And I can also let people know, Oh I’m just in the middle of a project. What’s going on? Is it something we can talk about later? Rather than just, you know, sweeping everything off of my plate at that very moment because they called or came by or whatever.

Mary: Right, Right. Or you could let it go to voicemail. 

Melissa: Yeah. And sometimes I do that, or you know on our phones, we can send the response text that’s just like, can I call you later? 

Mary: Yeah. So there’s some options if you just wanna buy yourself a little bit of time to make the decision, right? So when we feel put on the spot, sometimes we might be tempted to people please in that moment, right? So sometimes if it’s like, Hey, I’m in the middle of something, is this an emergency or can I call you back? Or let it go to voicemail, I take a look at it, make an active decision. If I say yes to this phone call, what am I saying no to? And am I okay with that? Right? If I say no to this phone call, what am I saying yes to? This project that I wanted to accomplish. Right? And just sometimes, even if it’s a moment or a minute or 10 minutes, however long it takes you to make sure that you are making that decision, can feel better, and you can treat yourself with a little more kindness and grace like I chose.

I would take a phone call from my sister if there was something urgent during the workday, for sure. And I would feel good about it because that’s how I wanna show up as a sister. I mean, I would probably be willing to have a 15 minute lunch and take a phone call from my sister instead of have a full lunch break and be okay with that. And then there are some times where I might not, there might be some times where I feel like this project that I’m working on, I’m committed to getting it done and I don’t wanna make exceptions, right? Like it’s the, under what conditions would I make an exception conversation, that I need to have with myself and feel really good about that decision.

Does that make sense? 

Melissa: Yeah.

Mary: If my kids are sick and I get a call from the school that they’re sick, I’m gonna go get them. I wanna be that mom. 

Melissa: Yeah, right. Of course.

Mary: But if someone who doesn’t have an appointment and missed their appointment yesterday with me, Right? Or I don’t know, like just shows up at the door to talk about the election who they’re… no. 

Melissa: Yes. I had one of those conversations yesterday. I was like, I thought it was gonna be this, and then it started with the election and I was like, alright. I gotta go. 

Mary: I’m not taking election phone calls or visitors during my workday. Not willing to make that exception. Right? Okay. So then how do we have the conversation? Do you feel like you have the tools to talk about it? 

Melissa: Yeah, I think for me it’s just having the awareness of, like you said, what I’m saying no to, what I’m saying yes to, what’s the choice I wanna make right now? And that it’s possible to allow those interruptions and also get my things done right? Like I don’t have to have it all or nothing. That I can check in, is this an emergency? Can it wait for later? Or obviously if it is an emergency, then we’ll deal with it now because that is how I wanna show up for my family, right? I’m not making that exception for spam calls. 

Mary: Exactly.

Melissa: Is this important spam guy? Okay. No

Mary: My extended car warranty on the car that I no longer own.

Melissa: I should give my phone number 25 years later. 

Mary: Exactly. Right? And sometimes boundaries is about also like teaching people when to contact us. So my kids kind of like, we have criteria for when to interrupt me. And we have since they were very young, right? So like my mom’s sleeping hours, sometimes they call it my pumpkin hours. Like mom’s pumpkin… 

Melissa: She’s gonna turn into the fairy godmother if you let her sleep. 

Mary: Right? Mom’s a pumpkin from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM or 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM depending on the season, right? And that means if you have an emergency, then come and interrupt and wake me up or call or whatever you need. Like I’m here for an emergency and that includes this and I have really clear criteria, right? It’s not, I’m hungry when you know how to get your own food . It’s not I need a drink of water. It’s not, I didn’t do my homework right? It’s I need some kind of medical attention or maybe some urgent emotional attention. Right? Those kinds of things are when you interrupt. And so I think we can do that even with our working hours and with our family and our friends. Because it’s okay to be inconvenient sometime. 

Melissa: Yes. Yes. 

Mary: Cause what’s the alternative? To never be inconvenienced? 

Melissa: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s necessarily possible. 

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. All right. What other questions do you have for me? 

Melissa: I don’t know, maybe, because I’m just thinking like the boundaries that I have with myself around sticking to my plan. I mean, obviously like we talked about, if there’s interruptions or whatever, we handle those. But when I do have to move things around and, you know, I guess sometimes I struggle with that, like sticking to the plan.

Mary: So I also do my calendar on Monday. I do a program called Monday Hour One, and I schedule all of the things that I wanna do on Monday morning for the whole week. And I do that when I’m functioning out of my frontal cortex, right? All the good parts of my brain. And guess what happens? Sometimes it gets to be Wednesday afternoon. And I don’t feel like doing what I thought I wanted to do on Monday morning, right? 

Melissa: You were so ambitious on Monday morning, you and your prefrontal cortex.

Mary: I know. And then I’m like, wait a minute. You feel resistance when it comes down to it, right? 

Melissa: Yeah. I need a nap by Wednesday.

Mary: Yes by Wednesday afternoon, like I don’t want to write a talk for a speaking engagement during this hour, like I thought I wanted to do right before, and so sometimes I just have to remind myself, and it’s that compassion again, like I made this decision for this purpose when I was thinking in my best parts of my brain, right? And I’m just gonna expect that sometimes I’m gonna feel resistance. And resistance is okay. Resistance is something I’m willing to work through, like a tax to accomplish my goals and my dreams. So it’s okay to maybe not feel like it when it comes down to it. 

And I have the same criteria for myself. Like under what conditions will I change the appointments that I’ve made for myself. So if I’m sick on Wednesday, maybe I choose to rest. If I’m experiencing some kind of emotional distress, then maybe I choose not to do it or whatever, you know, there’s someone else that I feel like I need to nurture or something else that’s come up that I wasn’t aware of on Monday. And maybe I would choose to make a different decision. But most of the time except for emergencies, I’m going to follow my own plan because the way that I build self-confidence is by making and keeping commitments to myself. 

Melissa: It is so important to build that self trust, right? It helps us to go bigger in our lives and our businesses when we feel like we can trust ourselves to stick to the plan. 

Mary: That’s right. That’s right. And that’s what we’re doing here. We’re going bigger. Yeah. 

Melissa: Yes. Bigger with boundaries. , 

Mary: You have to have boundaries to go bigger. 

Melissa: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, if you think about any, you know, high level, like even a political official, like the president, they’re not like, well, if everything’s okay in the country, then I’m gonna go to Camp David. They’re like at Camp David, like every week resting. 

Mary: That’s right. And there’s a quote by Warren Buffet, you may have heard before. And he said the difference between successful people and really successful people is that the really successful people say no to almost everything. And so it’s part of growing our success, right? The successful business women that we are is learning how to say no to interruption sometimes, learning how to say no to ourselves sometimes, to people pleasing other people who might feel inconvenienced by us. All of that is just part of being successful. 

Melissa: Yes. So good. Thank you.

Mary: Yeah. You’re welcome. Any other questions? 

Melissa: I don’t think so. 

Mary: Oh, I’m so glad. Thanks for talking to me. I love talking about boundaries. My favorite thing to talk about. Any last takeaway? What would you share what you learned today? 

Melissa: Well, I think what I took away the most is just that I can make a decision in the moment. Like I don’t have to have a hard and fast, you know, no interruptions, no inconvenience type thing. But I can make a decision in the moment. And maybe it’s possible to have a little more both, and thinking where I can be there for a family member and I can also get my thing done, my project done, you know. And have my own back, I think when I make those decisions and just have grace for myself and not be so hard on myself and so fixed in my schedule.

Mary: Yes. And trust yourself to know. You know exactly how you wanna spend your time and you’re the one who gets to decide. 

Melissa: Yeah. 

Mary: Awesome. You got this girl. 

Melissa: Oh, thank you. 

Mary: All right, we’ll see ya.