Being a business owner today is much (so very much) different than it was back in the days before the smartphone was introduced into our lives. And with more and more apps that enable us to conduct business on our phones it’s more and more difficult to keep our business and personal lives from merging into one, big, blob!
I’m sure any entrepreneur who’s been in business for more than ten years … even five, would agree with me. Am I right or am I Wrong?
Before the smartphone came on the scene, when we were through with our workday, we were through with work for the day. We turned off our computers and carried on with our personal lives, not really giving work a thought again until the next morning. We’d enjoy a quiet dinner at home or out with friends. Maybe even a date or family night. With no interruptions! Weekends were our own as well … no worries about being interrupted while out and about or simply sitting at home relaxing with our family.
With technology being as available and sophisticated as it is today, however, we’re expected to be on call 24/7. Even those of us who provide important, yet non-essential services.
Just because mobile devices have enabled us to do business anytime, anywhere, doesn’t mean we have to BE available and respond anytime, anywhere!
When we can’t get away from our work, we can experience great levels of stress; and stress is just plain unhealthy for us. Even if we don’t respond to those pings and dings letting us know we have a new email, or someone posted something on social media, we still hear them and know they’re there. They still interrupt our brains.
Part of the problem is we fail to put boundaries in place when we start our businesses. We answer emails at all hours of the day and night. We respond right away to social media messages. We reply to texts the minute they come in. It’s no wonder clients expect us to be available 24/7 … we are!Stop feeling guilty about not responding to an email that comes in at midnight!
Over the years, I’ve learned to establish boundaries, so my clients understand our team works a regular business week. Issues are addressed during business hours; and while clients do have contact information for emergencies, they understand what constitutes an emergency (their website and email are down, right in the middle of a huge promotion), and what doesn’t (they’ve left something to the last minute and think we can swoop in and rescue them from their own bad planning).
But hey, come in close, and I’ll let you in on a little secret … it’s completely OK to be unavailable!
You shouldn’t feel guilty about not responding to an email that comes in at midnight. You shouldn’t feel badly about having to turn down a rush project a client has left ‘til the last minute. You’re running a business, and you can’t let people walk all over you!
Those are boundaries. And, if you don’t already have boundaries in place, I suggest establishing some right now.
Here are a few things you can do to start regaining more control over your downtime:
- Start by establishing boundaries. Make a schedule, and decide what days of the week you’re available, and what your business hours will be.
- Notify your team members, clients, and colleagues about your new business hours. Explain what constitutes an emergency, and what doesn’t. Let them know you’ll be sticking to the new arrangement.
- Consider setting up an autoresponder for your Facebook page and your email, so when someone messages you, they’ll know when to expect a response.
- Turn off your notifications. Yes! This is an important step. It’s tough to resist the urge to check your phone every five seconds, but the temptation is even greater when you keep hearing those pings and dings, and there are red notification bubbles all over the place. The best way to deal with this? Turn the notifications off, and set an alarm at various intervals, to remind you to check in on all those channels throughout the day. Or, better yet? Hire someone to keep those things under control for you!
Do you have boundaries in place? What do they look like? Do you have any additional boundary-setting tips you can add to this list?
In business since 1991, Terry Green is the founder/CEO/President of BizEase Support Solutions, an American-based, online marketing support company comprised of a team of talented professionals from around North America. BizEase excels at providing speakers and business coaches worldwide with seamless online marketing solutions, from setting up ecommerce solutions, membership sites, web design and maintenance, to writing blog posts and managing Social Media and PR campaigns. BizEase clients (who span five continents) take great joy in allowing the BizEase team to take care of the details so they can get back to doing what they do best! Click here to get our bi-weekly tips ezine delivered to your inbox every other Friday, with tips on plugins, apps, and tools to make you more productive today!