Do you have a hard time separating your business and personal life sometimes? I do. Ever since I started working from home it has been a daily struggle to know when to “close” for the evening. I feel obligated to sit and my desk and work just because I’m home. And, when I’m not working, I’m thinking, “I really should be working right now.”
Then there is the flip-side: saying yes to all the things that pull you away from work. Lunch with the girls. Running errands. Meetings. Sometimes there is so much going on it is impossible to get any work done. It is hard to know when to say yes and when to say no. There needs to be boundaries – a set of guidelines or limits to follow in your business.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others” – Brene Brown
Setting boundaries helps us create balance. It is inherent human nature to want to make people happy, and not disappoint them. When you run a business, those people are stakeholders – your clients, contractors, employees, investors. In your personal life your people are friends + family. They are all very important. But, the most important person in both of those lists is you. And, if you don’t take care of yourself, then no one can be happy.
5 Keys to Setting Boundaries
1. Set Office Hours
Working at home doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. Treat it like any other professional office – like a doctor or a bank. Define your office hours. Open at a specific time. Close at a specific time. Write it down. Post it in your office – even if you are the only one that sees it. And then stick to it. Don’t be late and NO OVERTIME ALLOWED!
2. Designate Time for Appointments
Appointments and meetings can take over sometimes. Grouping your appointments together on designated days can help. This way you are limiting interruptions the rest of the time when you are trying to focus. Write down your schedule and post it in your office.
Bonus tip: Try the same thing with answering email and returning voice messages. Set aside a time each day to crush your email/voicemail instead of answering them as they come. Fewer interruptions means more productivity.
3. Create a Job Description
Most of us creative types are multi-talented. But, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything. You an achieve more by being really good at one thing instead of kinda-good at a lot of things. So, take some time to write out your job description. What is your job title? What do your responsibilities include + what percent of your time should you spend on each one? How many hours are you expected to work each week? Write it down and hang it up.
4. Set Priorities
Setting and understanding priorities helps you keep moving forward in your business. A method I love is the OKR method. It stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is most famous for being the way that Google sets and tracks performance goals. Even if you aren’t working in a team, you can still use OKRs to set and accomplish business growth goals and priorities.
First, write your objectives. They should be qualitative goals. For example, your objective might be to build a highly engaged tribe.
Next, write your key results to reach that objective. They should be quantitative + measurable. The results are what shows you how close to reaching your objective you are. For example, a key result for having a highly engaged tribe might be having a Facebook Group with 500 members.
PS, if you haven’t joined my #idearevolution Facebook group, I’d like to invite you to join. You can share your ideas with other like minded creatives and get the support you need to implement them.
5. Say No
You do not have to take on every new project or go on every lunch date. If you are faced with something new, ask yourself these questions before you say yes:
- Does it fit in my schedule?
- Does it fit with my brand?
- Does it fall within my job description?
- Will working on it force me to lose focus on my priorities?
- Does it have a clear benefit or payoff?
- Will implementing it get me closer to my vision?
If you can’t answer “Yes” to all of these questions, then say No.
Question – Do you have trouble setting boundaries in your business? Tell me in the comments below.