by Kristi Brown | Featured Contributor
No thank you.
Nope, but thanks for asking.
Not doing it.
Most women I know struggle saying it. They want to be the best.
If you are also a business owner, especially one that works from home, saying it becomes even more daunting. So instead of politely, graciously, firmly saying “no,” we just make it all fit.
We tell ourselves that sending this email only takes a second. Being on that charity board that meets for 2 hours. Every week. You’ve got time for that.
Or sure, I can make the cupcakes for my daughter’s little league team between client meetings and getting the dry cleaning for my husband.
But the truth is that setting and respecting personal and business boundaries is an important strategy for any business owner who works with clients, and even more so for those who work from home.
Learning to say no to the things that aren’t the RIGHT things is a skill that all business owners need to develop.
Boundaries are vital to our success, and when they are lacking, we often don’t think through the long-term consequences until we are stressed out, burnt out, or a combination of both.
So, here are few key boundaries to consider:
1.) Set Business Hours
Just because we live in an uber-connected world where people can reach out to you 24/7 doesn’t mean you should be available 24/7.
You need to protect your personal time from a constant onslaught of people wanting your attention. Your family, spouse, and friends deserve your attention, too. And for your own clarity and sanity, you can’t make yourself available non-stop.
We tell our clients what our hours are and the best way to contact us. Even in an online world, or an online business, you should have posted hours and well-documented and followed processes for communication with you or your business.
Set regular business hours for yourself, too, and stick to them!
Let’s be honest, no one can work 24/7 and live a happy, balanced, fulfilling life.
2.) Take Responsibility
If people are contacting you all hours of the day or night, it’s your fault. Start fresh and create processes that will end that.
Maybe start a new policy of not putting your cell phone on your website. There are plenty of apps that give you a new phone number to use, then send people to voicemail if they call during off hours.
Don’t guilt trip yourself into feeling like you have to answer emails immediately, either. Some of the most successful people around today only open their email twice a day.
Let’s face it, email is the biggest disruption to productivity in the modern world, which means that being productive hinges on minimizing it.
3.) Quit Giving Away Your Services
If clients pay you for your experience and expertise, but a mooching email from a friend causes you to just give away your services, this is a new boundary you need to create.
It is unprofessional to give your services away.
In my opinion, too many business owners give away their time and expertise, then wonder why people won’t pay them their service fees.
You paid to get to your professional skill and knowledge level, so stop getting sucked into two-hour ‘let me pick your brain’ meetings. This isn’t good prospecting. It’s rooted in guilt and fear.
Those who respect your work – and will pay you for it – will not be the ones who want to pick your brain for free.
4.) Schedule Everything
Learn the art of time blocking to keep your day on track. Even if time blocking isn’t for you, schedule the important tasks that you know need to get done.
Need to write a blog post every week? Put it on your calendar.
Want to have a date night once a month? Put it on your calendar.
And if you need to connect with people on social media, schedule it. (And limit it to the assigned time slot!)
5.) Consider the Possibilities
Have you ever considered what happens when you say no to something? You open up new possibilities. Things will fall into place. New things will be created. Ideas will come.
If you set and adhere to your boundaries, you will become a better person and a more successful business owner. You will feel more creative and less tired. If you don’t believe me, try it for 60 days and tell me how you feel afterward.
I promise you will love it. 🙂