In business, as well as in our personal lives, it’s absolutely crucial to establish boundaries. Without clear boundaries, we cannot plan our time or focus our energies properly, and we become vulnerable to the motives of others. We can also become too distant from others, or too dependent on them. This can lead to low self-esteem and ultimately prevent us from moving forward toward our personal goals.
When we get our priorities right around ourselves, our business, our family, and our friends, we can lead much more fulfilling lives. But first, we need to be clear about how our business is affecting our life. Are we working ourselves into the ground, therefore limiting the quality time we spend with our family? Are we becoming less and less available, therefore damaging relationships with friends? Often when we are overworked, we start to feel guilty, but we also fear failure. And when these two powerful emotions collide, it can be extremely damaging to our health. How can we set realistic expectations around these issues and work within a manageable framework, rather than punishing ourselves for not accomplishing more?
Starting and growing a successful business can be a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding. If you worry about your personal and working relationships, or you just need some guidance to help you separate your business life and your personal life, this chapter should help you get on the right track.
The Importance of Clear Boundaries
“Few people do business well who do nothing else.” – Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773)
This is an old quote, but it still holds very true today. It tells us that unless we remain well-rounded individuals, we will lose some of the qualities that help us make our business a success. Spending too much time on business and not enough time with our family and friends is a recipe for disaster. We also need quality time for ourselves. Without this balance in our lives, we inevitably find ourselves overworked, which leads to careless work and more stress.
By setting clear boundaries, you can allow time for your friends and family, and get their support in times of need. You may be aiming to achieve certain goals, but if you alienate the very people that can give you the support you need, your achievements will actually feel very hollow. After all, it’s your friends and family that give real meaning to your life. If you’re only interested in your business, you’ll end up a very lonely person indeed. Stay focused on your ambitions, but also strive for balance in your life so you don’t alienate friends and family.
What Is The Ideal Work-Life Balance?
Like many things in life, the answer to this question depends on your unique aspirations. You need to know what your limits are. You need to know what you want to achieve, but you also need to know how to go about it without hurting those around you. How can you use your strengths to maximise the time you spend on your business, and optimize the quality time you spend with family and friends? By asking yourself the important questions, you can learn what is actually possible and how you can reach your professional and personal goals.
Having a good work-life balance doesn’t mean an equal balance. The number of hours you work and the number of hours you spend with family and friends will vary from one day to the next. You need to be flexible to allow for changing circumstances and the ongoing needs of others. If you are single, the right balance for you will obviously be different from if you are married with children. The right balance will also depend on your ultimate ambitions. Are you young and starting a new business that you want to grow into an internationally-recognizable brand? Or are you an older person who wants to run a small local business? Both journeys are equally as valid, but they may require a different set of boundaries around business time and personal time.
At the heart of a successful work-life balance are achievement and enjoyment. We need to work toward both of these things in each area of our lives: business, family, friends, and self.
What Does Success Really Mean?
For most people, success isn’t just about achieving a certain status and acquiring more money. It’s about building strong relationships, helping others achieve their goals, and finding happiness in our work and personal lives. Simply put, success is accomplishing whatever goals we set for ourselves. It means different things to different people, but we must set the benchmark for success ourselves.
Success is also understanding that the journey toward a better self is never ending. It is being fearless but at the same time respectful. Essentially, to be truly successful, you need to be conscious of others, committed to your work and private life, and consistently communicate your feelings. This way, you can achieve your goals with pride, and avoid undervaluing anyone in the process.
Are Your Boundaries Weak?
Many newbies in business allow themselves to be treated poorly by their clients, and even by their work colleagues. It’s important to be consistent when communicating with others, so they know what your expectations are and how you expect to be treated. If you don’t set the right tone from the outset, people will try to shift the boundaries and make you do things that disrupt your work and life balance. You teach people how to treat you – this applies in our business lives and our personal lives. If you recognize any of the following, you may need to set clearer boundaries:
- You find yourself working on one project, when you should be working on another
- You agree to do more work for a client, even though you already have enough on your plate
- You answer the phone, even though you told everyone you’d be out of the office
- You work later every day in order to complete “urgent” tasks
- You keep getting emails from a client, when they should be emailing someone else
- Colleagues interrupt you throughout the day, when you need to complete an important task
- You promised to have a family day out, but you don’t want to let down a client
By setting concrete boundaries, you will send a clear signal to others. Sometimes, it’s better to say no to someone than to acquiesce. If you don’t respect your own time, others will think you’re always flexible, and this could lead to burnout.
How to Set Clearer Boundaries
Teaching people how to treat you is as simple as setting boundaries and enforcing them. Decide what is acceptable to you in the way you work and communicate with people in your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the best way for someone to contact you or your team? Phone, email, *Facebook, Skype, text, or some other way?
- What are you not willing to do when it comes to your work?
- Can someone contact you during your day off?
- How late will you work on a normal working day?
- How much advance notice do you need from customers to complete an order?
- How do you handle last-minute orders?
- If you work from home, when and how should your family communicate with you?
Working smarter is about setting the times when we want to work (that suit the customer and the business) and having a disciplined routine. It shouldn’t be about working around the clock. It’s nice to be busy, but you also need to work efficiently. While it’s fine to break the rules from time to time, you need to be clear about when something is urgent and when it can wait.
Communicate Your Expectations
Most people won’t be offended if we politely lay down the rules about how we would like to be treated at work. If you set clear boundaries from the beginning, everyone knows where they stand and this will help alleviate future conflicts. If you can’t meet a friend for coffee one day, just be honest and say you need to work. If you’re always available whenever people ask for your time, people will start to take advantage of your flexibility.
Limit Your Availability
If you reply to every email or text the second it arrives, you’re setting a standard that people might expect of you every time. Try to set aside a portion of time each day to return calls, attend to emails, or check social media.
If you tell people you always work on a Monday morning and they see you having a coffee with a friend, you can’t blame them for thinking your working times are flexible. The only way you can expect people to respect your boundaries is if you stick to the rules you lay out. In a similar scenario, if a family member catches you chatting to a friend on the phone in your home office, they might not respect you working space in the future.
Working From Home
People need to know when your working hours are and when they are allowed to interrupt you. Simply communicate with your family – let people know when they can and cannot disturb you. Then try to stick to your routine. This not only helps you plan your week, it also discourages interruptions from those around you.
You also need to establish a particular work space that you feel comfortable working in, and that people know is your working area. Once this has been defined, tell your family that when you are in your work space, you shouldn’t be interrupted.
Extra Tips to Get the Work-Life Balance Right
Here are some more simple but effective ways to make sure you get the balance right between your work life and your personal life:
- Don’t abandon your hobbies. They are an excellent source of relaxation
- Stay physically active. Even it’s a daily walk, exercise is great for the body and mind
- In social situations, try to avoid talking about business unless you’re asked
- Let those close to you know about your work, but don’t talk about your business all the time
- Schedule time every week to spend with your family and friends
Taking It Further
Finding the right balance between your work and private life is crucial to long-term physical and mental well-being. When you’ve set clear boundaries, you can also enjoy better relationships with family and friends. Ultimately, it’s a case of planning and communication. It’s not complicated, but it’s still something that many newbies in business struggle with.
Why not take the time to evaluate the boundaries you have set around your work and personal life? It takes time to strike the right balance, but when you get it right you’ll be more productive in business and get the respect you deserve.
If you are interested to explore further on this topic you can always set up time to connect with us by clicking here http://www.businessfreedomgroup.com.au/10k-session/