Boundaries – are you making this mistake without even realising?

Sam Milburn Digital Marketing Online Business Manager

Something a lot of my clients can struggle with is setting boundaries. Especially when you are in the coaching or mentoring sector.

It’s totally understandable when your soul purpose is to help people and provide advice and support.

Even product-based business can fall into the trap of their business overtaking their personal life and so need to set boundaries on where the business time ends and their personal life starts.

If you are feeling like you don’t have any time right now to take on more clients, before looking at your processes one of the things you can look at are your boundaries and see if you have fallen into the ‘no boundaries’ trap without even realising.

Ditch the personal chats

Communicating with clients now is far easier than a telephone call or email. We are accessible at all times of the day. Things like whatsapp make it incredibly hard for us to switch off. If you find that you are setting up whatsapp chats that clients are using between sessions as an almost ‘free advice’ helpline, or for customer support, then you need to really consider how much of your time and energy that is taking up.

This is where facebook groups come into their own. They can be a hive of information for your clients and customers, and another way for them to access you, but in ‘your’ time.

If you must have that direct line of communication that can’t be by email, then you can set up an alternative to whatsapp for business use. Signal and Telegram are good examples. That way you can keep it separate to your personal life and check it as you would an email for example. You can also make it clear to clients that you only reply to messages between certain times with an autoresponder.

Out of Office

Your out of office function can be used for so much more than just an out of office reply.  Right now I’m homeschooling and so my hours are quite frankly, weird! I’m not available at the same times as I used to be, I’m getting up quite early and working late. So I have my out of office on all of the time to explain to my clients that this is what’s happening and I update it every week. It explains that I may not be able to check their emails right away, and what to do if something is really urgent.

It then takes a heap of pressure off of me and I don’t need to ‘worry’ when I’ve got my ‘mum’ hat on. Sadly this situation can’t be helped, but if you make it very clear to your clients and audience what’s happening and what they can do if they need you right away, then it really does set up those expectations and keeps everyone on the same page.

Holidays

Book your holidays in. Including a day off here and there to re-charge in the middle of the week. And make sure your clients know in plenty of time. It’s important that you have time off, but it’s equally important that your clients or customers are aware. If you are service based business this can be as simple as adding it to your email footer a few weeks before. If you sell products online you can add it to your homepage in a banner across the top.

It feels more official when you do this. It’s almost setting aside non-negotiable time. Once you communicate it to your clients, you are also less likely to go back on it. Set it in stone and make sure you do it (and enjoy!)

Time Blocking

Another really good way to not only help with boundaries but to review your time is time blocking. We know that starting and stopping isn’t hugely productive. I get that at the moment we don’t always have a choice! (homeschooling mamas I hear ya!) But if you can time block your day into hour chunks, and get into a mindful practice of ‘this is what I’m doing right now!’ it’s an excellent way of setting micro boundaries during the day.

You will also feel more in control. I know this as time blocking is something I’m relatively new to. And when I do commit to time blocking (and often I can only time block an hour at a time right now) it makes all the difference to my work/life balance and my wellbeing generally.

The outset

Something you can also do is set your boundaries at the outset. A little policy that you can attach to your contract if you are a service provider outlining how to contact you, how long it takes to reply etc. Setting up the intentions right from the start is THE best way. If you are a product based business, make sure it’s clear on all of your ordering pages and sequences what the process is how long everything can take, and how they can contact you. Having this all clear on your website gives you peace of mind when it comes to getting orders ready, and people know exactly what to expect and aren’t chasing you. FAQ pages are also super helpful.

I hope that’s given you some great ideas of where you can start to set some boundaries!

If you want to know about the actual apps and software that myself and my clients use in their businesses to help streamline and save time (oh time don’t we love you!) then check out my free download – 12 Tools To Streamline your Business – you’ll love it!