Being a business owner today is much (much) different than it was back in the days before the smartphone was introduced into our lives. I’m sure any entrepreneur who’s been in business for more than ten years would agree with me.
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!
Today, with technology being what it is, however, we’re expected to be on call all the time. Even those of us who provide important, yet non-essential services.
Just because mobile devices have enabled us to do business anytime, anywhere, that doesn’t mean we have to!
When we can’t get away from our work, we can experience great levels of stress; and stress is just plain unhealthy for us.
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!Click To Tweet
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?
Also published on Medium.