With the COVID-19 pandemic blurring the lines between work and home, entrepreneurs are still struggling to balance their personal and professional responsibilities. We adapted to the circumstances but find that we need to shift our mindset and workload as we work our way back to “normal.”
Unfortunately, this is no easy task. Each season of life feels busier than the next, with more things opening and our calendars full to the brim. But in order to protect ourselves and our businesses, we need one thing: boundaries.
Hopefully, you’ve established a handful of boundaries for yourself and your business. More on that here! But the fact of the matter is, you might be struggling to actually stick with them. Setting them up was easy – empowering, really. But, following through on them is another story.
Here’s how you can realign your focus and stick to the boundaries you worked hard to establish.
Review your boundaries frequently.
At some point, you’re going to establish a boundary that simply doesn’t work for you. For example, you may have told yourself you wouldn’t check your email after 6:00 p.m., but once the kids are down, you find those creative juices flowing and discover that 10:00 p.m. is the perfect time to get work done. Regardless of the situation, you must check back in on the effectiveness of your boundaries.
Know that it’s okay to change your boundaries, so long as it’s done for you — not someone else. The limits you establish need to reflect your needs and lifestyle, and reviewing them at the end of each month is a great way to stay ahead of burnout.
Practice, practice, practice.
Re-establishing your boundaries takes a personal level of commitment, so if you’ve been struggling to enforce them, it’s time to take a quick peek in the mirror. Are you adhering to the boundaries you’ve set? Or are you letting others dictate your schedule?
People won’t respect your boundaries if you’re not practicing them regularly. For example, if you tell a client you’ll be out of the office on Friday, don’t wake up and respond to emails that morning. Though this might be second nature for you, you need to practice sticking to the policies you put in place.
Holding yourself accountable will allow you to remind yourself of the boundaries you set and why you set them in the first place. If you’re quick to say yes to new projects, practice slowing down and thinking it through before making a final decision. Take your workload and wellbeing into account. While practice makes perfect, continuously reinforcing your boundaries is one of the best ways to re-establish them.
Be crystal clear from the beginning.
When setting expectations, it’s essential to make them crystal clear from the get-go – especially with new clients. Otherwise, boundaries will blur, and people won’t know they’re infringing on them. Defining your boundaries in each contract is a great way to do this. Then, from day one, clients will understand when you’re available, how best to reach you, and when you might not be responding to them at all.
Of course, you cannot re-establish boundaries without setting them in the first place. With an ever-growing business and clients coming along, your boundaries should be at the forefront of each new conversation. Make them clear and nonnegotiable from the start, and you won’t have to worry about trying to implement them later on.
Delegate when needed.
Do you ever feel like your business’s own worst enemy? You’re not alone! We often establish boundaries, only to take on more work and say yes to things we might not have enough hours in the day to accomplish. That’s where delegation comes in. To re-establish boundaries, you might need to lift some of the weight off your shoulders.
Finding someone who can ensure you’re able to unplug, disconnect, and take care of yourself is vital to the success of your business. It’s understandably nerve-wracking to give up control, but the time you save will allow you to become a better entrepreneur, wife, mom, and friend.
Give yourself grace.
When setting, revisiting, and enforcing boundaries, accept that you will slip up. And that’s okay! There will be times when you take one too many calls or let work creep into your regular sleep schedule. Deadlines will be missed and brunches will be skipped because, at the end of the day, we’re human.
Give yourself grace and understand that establishing boundaries takes more than simply writing them down on a sticky note. They take practice and a whole lot of mindfulness. Try not to dwell on what you’ve done before, but what you hope to do in the future. Let go of the idea of perfection, and you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to meet your goals – that added pressure isn’t doing anything for you!
Looking for guidance in setting boundaries and creating a fulfilling life of abundance? Jen’s a pro at saying “no” and protecting her time and space — and she’s here to help others build a life they’re proud to share. Connect with her, and get ready to see your world change!