Technology has many advantages but also some disadvantages. With the rise of technology and social media it has been impossible not to be “on” almost constantly. On the flip side, it is so nice to be able to catch up with others or receive answers quickly. In a day and age where everyone expects everyone else to be available 24/7 it is important to know how to handle this when it comes to your business.
Establish Priorities and Parameters
It is hard for a client to know what boundaries not to cross if you are not establishing those parameters. Every business has different schedules. Working from home has lent a bit of flexibility when it comes to business hours.
Make sure you figure out what schedule is right for you. You may work a 9 to 5 schedule. You may be in a different time zone than much of your clientele, or you may find working in the morning and then after you put the kids to bed best. Regardless of what works for you, make sure to let your clients know when they will be able to reach you.
You need to ensure you have let your clients know when you can be reached. It is hard for clients to be sensitive to your boundaries if you do not let them know what they are. This does not mean you cannot be reached when there is an emergency, but this firmly states what a normal workday will look like for you. If people choose to still try to contact you, they cannot be shocked when you do not respond immediately.
Practice What You Preach
If you expect clients to respect your boundaries, it is important to do the same for your clients. Make sure to reach out to them during their business hours and only send correspondence during your work hours. If you send an email at night, clients may assume you changed your schedule and try to do the same.
It is important to set rules for yourself that you can stick to not only respect your client but also take care of yourself as well. A good rule of thumb is if you are working outside your office hours, leave correspondence in your draft box to send off the next morning during your typical work schedule.
Protect Your Time
Lastly but certainly not least, you need to protect your time. This is an integral part of this process. If you happen to be on your laptop or your smart phone and see a notification pop up, do not engage.
It is easy to think it will be a quick reply and then back to what you were originally doing, but emails or messages will easily suck you in and you end up spending way more time than intended. You may need to institute policies at home to give your family your full attention. Try leaving your phone in another room, turning off notifications, or put it on do not disturb.
Applying these steps, you will find freedom for yourself and more meaningful time and memories with your family. In a culture that has you feeling like you are constantly on call, it is important to stand your ground and start the investment now. Future you will thank you.