What to do When Your Business is Out of Bounds and Work Starts to Take Over Your Personal Life
In the digital era when you can be reached 24/7 through smartphones and social media, it can be more difficult to set firm boundaries that support your wellbeing and the productivity of your business. When you find yourself frustrated, resentful, or feeling obligated to respond to tweets, FB messages and emails at all hours of the day and night because you “have to”, it’s time to reassess and redefine your business boundaries.
The first step is to get clear about the difference between “have to” and “want to”, considering the possibility that a lot of the time you are spending responding to emails, tweets and Facebook messages during “off” hours are happening because you are choosing to do so, not because you have to do so. So, first and foremost, get clear on your motivations.
Are you responding to clients after hours because you are avoiding something in your personal life? Or, are you addicted to the high of being needed? Or maybe you just like it and it’s not something you have to do at all, but you really do want to be that available.
Next, if you really do want to create more boundaries between your work life and your personal life, it can be as simple as making the choice.
Decide to limit the hours when you respond to emails, calls, messages, and social media posts. Being connected via smartphone all day doesn’t mean you have to maintain a consistent level of responsiveness.
Set up regular business hours in which you will respond to messages, and stick to it. Enforce those hours by including them in business contracts, too. Communication is the key. When you communicate your boundaries to clients and team members, you’ll find that people are happy to respect your boundaries.
Along those lines, don’t make yourself fully available all day long. Don’t use your personal cell phone for business, and always keep your business lines and accounts separate from your personal ones. Take responsibility for when people can contact you, and send business calls to voicemail after hours. Better yet, get an assistant who can handle your phones and accounts so you can focus on running your business, not responding to messages.
And, lastly, make sure you respect the value of your time. Giving away services, indulging prospects in long consultations, and handing out free and discounted services to personal contacts all discount your value. Not only can this leave you feeling unappreciated at the end of the day, but it also sets up the expectation that you are overly generous with your time.
Time is money, as any business owner will tell you, so make sure you are being compensated fairly for your time. Again, skillfully crafted contracts can help you communicate and enforce this particular boundary.
If you are unclear about the value of your time, and how to create boundaries around your time, ask us about our Money Map Life and Income planning process so we can help you with this. Protecting your time and value as an entrepreneur is important. Setting clear boundaries and knowing when to enforce them can help you keep your sanity while running a business. But to do this, you need to have measures in place to ensure those who do business with you have clear and reasonable expectations. If you want to take that step toward setting clear business boundaries, start by sitting down with us.
As your Creative Family Business Lawyer, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face everyday as a leader in business, including when and how to set boundaries. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.