It's the end of another full day as an entrepreneur. You shut down your computer, lock up your office, and get ready to enjoy a relaxing night at home. But even though you're off hours, your mind isn't. Maybe you run through conversations you had during the day, brainstorm marketing ideas on a cocktail napkin, or obsessively check your business email from your personal phone.
Having a mind for business isn't a bad thing – after all, a lot of great ideas come to us when we least expect it. But if you find yourself frustrated, resentful, anxious, or feeling obligated to respond to emails and messages at all hours of the day and night, it's time to reassess and redefine your business boundaries.
It can be difficult to set healthy boundaries when our current culture expects us to be constantly available and “plugged in.” But setting healthy boundaries and finding true work-life balance is essential for your well-being, personal satisfaction, and the success of your business.
Get Clear on What's Urgent and What's Not
The first and most important step on the way to work-life balance is to be honest with yourself about tasks that you “have to” do versus those you “want to” do. You'll likely find that the reasons you're working during “off” hours is because you're choosing to do so, not because you have to – even though it may feel like you have to at times,
The truth is that few things are truly urgent or require an immediate response or action. Emails, messages, or requests from clients are generally not urgent, even if the client believes it is urgent or is upset. And here's the thing, your clients and customers don't know whether you have access to your work materials after hours or not – unless you make yourself available to them.
No one expects to hear from their doctor after hours, and no one should expect to hear from you outside of work hours either.
If the idea of cutting off work-related communication after hours makes you squirm, get curious with yourself about why you feel that way. Are you afraid clients will be angry with you if you don't respond quickly? Do you get anxious wondering what emails have come in since you logged off for the day? Do you receive gratification from being needed?
Once you're able to identify the root cause of those feelings, you'll be able to address the issue through healthy means, like journaling, exercising, talking with friends, or speaking to a therapist.
Set Working Hours - And Stick To Them
Now that you have a better understanding of what drives you, decide to limit the hours when you respond to emails, calls, messages, and social media posts. Set up regular business hours in which you will receive calls and respond to messages, and then stick to it.
Enforce your business hours by including them in business contracts and communications too. When you communicate your boundaries to clients and team members from the start, you'll find that most people are happy to respect your boundaries.
Take your boundaries a step further by only responding to messages during certain hours of your work day. Use time-blocking to set aside a time that works best for you and your productivity. Reserve your most energized hours for working on your business, and set aside time to respond to messages when you have less energy. Don't use your personal cell phone for business and always keep your business lines and accounts separate from your personal ones and send business calls to voicemail after hours. If it works best for you to have a call-answering service, do that. There are numerous call-answering services that can answer your phone and email, and even schedule call-backs and appointments.
Get Support From Your LIFTed Business Advisor
Protecting your time and value as an entrepreneur is important. Setting clear boundaries and knowing when to enforce them is the key to avoiding burnout and finding work-life balance. 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're unclear on how to create boundaries around your time or struggling to set up the systems that will allow you to mentally and physically step away from your business, we can help.
As your LIFTed Business Advisor, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and how to set boundaries and how to set up your Legal, Insurance, Financial, and Tax systems in the right way so you can focus on growing your business (and taking care of yourself).
Schedule a complimentary discovery call to learn more. Contact us today!
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The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.