Unfortunately, your work hours haven’t changed.
Your clients have become accustomed to you being available 24/7. Constant connectivity has become your new normal. However, without boundaries you are operating from a reactive place; taking orders and putting out fires. This way of working is not a sustainable way to run your business.
Here are steps you can follow to get back in control of your time:
Step 1: Align your business with your values
In today’s work world, the line between personal and professional has become blurred. Now is the time to think about what is important to you. When you are clear about your values, it becomes easier to protect your boundaries.
Step 2: Have a dedicated office space
If you have a home office, you already know how important it is to have a defined and dedicated workspace – preferably with a door. You need this barrier to guard against distractions.
Step 3: Define your work hours
Every business has hours of operation. For service-based businesses, this is typically in the realm of 9 to 5. Limit your availability by letting your clients know when you are “open for business”. This also means responding to their emails and phone calls only during your pre-defined work hours.
Step 4: Communicate clearly
Let others know your work hours. Set an auto response in your email to explain you are unavailable and when you will get back to them: “Thanks for getting in touch. Our office hours are between 9 am to 5 pm so look for a response from me soon.”
Step 5: Prepare for violations
Plan how you will handle it when a client crosses the line. Depending on your type of business, it’s important to have a back-up plan. That might mean having an external support person to handle client emergencies outside of office hours.
You only want the best for your clients. Setting boundaries is a healthy way to ensure you meet their needs while at the same time taking control of your business and your life. In the end you will be more productive, feel less stress and you’ll set your business up for long-term success.