Have you ever felt like all you do is attend to your clients’ needs throughout the day? 

Are you prioritizing work over your personal needs? 

Do you struggle to decline client requests, even if they’re unreasonable? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you understand how frustrating and tiring it can be when you lack boundaries between your work and your life.

With the holidays just around the corner, many creative entrepreneurs are looking forward to spending some quality time with their family and friends. It’s a time meant for making wonderful memories with your loved ones and taking a break from your usual busy life. After all your hard work this year, you deserve to relax and recharge yourself!

But if you have been so used to living your life on autopilot, going at full throttle every single day, it can be a challenge to make yourself slow down. Believe me, it’s very easy to continue to overstretch yourself. If you want to truly protect your peace and practice self-care, you need to be intentional about it.

Yes, many people rely on you—your employees, creative partners, clients, and other industry peers—but don’t forget that you should take care of yourself, too! Your well-being is just as important.

But how can you do that? By establishing holiday boundaries! Set realistic expectations with the people you deal with. Follow these best practices to safeguard your schedule and enjoy your holidays without unnecessary stress.

Make people aware of your limits from the start

People can’t respect your boundaries if they don’t know what they are, so you should be crystal clear on your working hours, time off, and guidelines for setting appointments from the get-go. Mention these details to your clients during their initial consultation, and reiterate them throughout your work together. It’s better to be upfront about your ground rules prior to contract signing, so they are fully aware of what they’re getting into. The last thing you want is for them to feel misled or let down in the future.  

Stick to your boundaries

Guess what? We actually tend to be the most flagrant rule-breakers of our own boundaries.

How many times have you checked your email messages during no-screen days, continued answering calls well past your working hours, or agreed to a meeting at a moment’s notice?

Here’s the reality: When you fail to observe your own boundaries, you are setting a precedent for others to ignore them as well. You also create an unrealistic expectation that you respond immediately to messages no matter what time it is, which is dangerous territory to walk!

It is always easy to find something to add to your to-do list, but knowing when to call it a day is also part of responsible time management. If you don’t stop when you’re supposed to, you’ll never be able to find balance and get your life back! Remember that it’s all about working smarter, not working longer.

Let go of the fantasy of perfection

Many times, we can’t help but obsess over every detail of whatever project we’re currently working on. We want to ensure that everything is seamless and perfect. But in your tasks, you should learn to strive for finished rather than flawless—you will find flaws everywhere if you look at anything for too long.

Remember that we are only human, and we do make mistakes. Errors and oversights are also more likely to slip by you when you’re overworked and exhausted, so advocate for yourself and nurture your personal time!

Stand your ground

Most of us have experienced a time where our clients or colleagues have crossed the boundaries we’ve set. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable for people to push the limits. While this may be annoying or rude, try to be empathetic. They may have simply lost track of time or forgotten what you’ve said before. Keep it professional by gently reminding them about your boundaries.

However, if it happens too often or seems deliberate, don’t be afraid to put your foot down. If a client consistently shows that they can’t respect your boundaries, it may be a sign that you’re better off dissolving the contract. Keep in mind that your relationship with your clients should go both ways, and you can’t put a price tag on your peace of mind or sanity.

Delegate tasks effectively

Before you craft that out-of-office message and go straight to your holiday getaway, make sure you’re not just handing over a list of tasks to your team members. You need to provide thorough direction and context so they can confidently meet the goals you had in mind. It may take some extra time to prepare them, but doing so ensures they don’t need to keep you on speed dial, and you get to completely relax with no distractions.

While these tips will help you create and enforce boundaries during the holiday season, I encourage you to start building them into your business year-round. Remember that you are human—not a robot! Free yourself from guilt and unreasonable expectations. Ultimately, clear and firm boundaries will make you a happier and healthier entrepreneur!