Today I was talking to my friend Jamie and I asked her how she creates boundaries in her workday when people ask her to meet up and she technically does have “free” time (i.e. no clients or appointments with other people). One of the things that challenges me most (always has!) about working for myself is creating boundaries in my workday for me to get my own creative work and writing done – especially when it comes to managing requests from others.
She said, “Make appointments with yourself — and keep them. Even if it’s just to have some time to yourself. Literally put it in the calendar.”
I know it may sound like a simple idea, but I hear the same challenge from so many entrepreneurs and people who work for themselves – it can be difficult to keep a consistent work schedule when you’re the only one holding yourself accountable. It’s all too easy to let your own plans to write or do your creative work slide when someone else’s agenda comes into the mix – especially when the social plans would actually be really fun, probably more “fun” than working.
Time management is arguably one of the biggest challenges of being a solopreneur (i.e. working for yourself).
When I first started working for myself back in 2010, I would say yes to almost every daytime invite I got. My ex-boyfriend used to call me a “professional bruncher.” I think I was just high on the fact that I could do whatever I wanted, instead of sit in a cubicle. So I did.
As time went on, it became more and more imperative to schedule time for not only my creative work, but my self-care — and if I don’t stick to my boundaries, it will show in my work, in my energy, in my relationships, in everything.
Especially those beautiful, sacred, precious morning hours. Those are the best hours (for me) to get my most important tasks done for the day, my most creative words out onto the page. If I don’t hold them sacred, if I let other people’s energy start infiltrating my system (i.e. social media and texting), my energy starts to splatter all over the place.
Sticking to creative work boundaries and self-care boundaries can be HARD. How easy is it to cancel your meditation, exercise, or writing in order to say “yes” to plans with someone who wants to meet for coffee or get on a call? So easy. So, so easy. And often, we don’t really think about whether this phone call or coffee is something we’d proactively schedule for ourselves, and it suddenly becomes someone just wanting to “pick our brain” – and then instead of using that time for creative work, our brain becomes…well, picked.
If I don’t have an “ACTUAL” appointment in the calendar, it can be difficult for me to articulate the fact that I, in fact, have a boundary. I’m not sure why this is. Probably because I actually don’t have as strong of a boundary as I think. My boundaries are leaky. I have leaky boundaries!!!!! I have boundary permeability.
But when Jamie said, “make an appointment with yourself and keep it,” it felt really freeing to me.
Oh, yeah, I have appointments from 9am to 1pm. Appointments with MYSELF, yo!! Appointments with my writing. That feels so good. Otherwise, the day will get away from me and I’m writing at midnight (And I’m writing at midnight a lot these days).
I liked this article: Avoid Solopreneur Fatigue: Survival Tips
“Because things can get disorganized as a solo team, make sure you set clear boundaries with family members and friends. Notify them about your working schedule, and stick to it. You’re not free to chat or have a three hour lunch just because you work for yourself.”
Some people have the opposite problem – working ALL THE TIME and not creating any boundaries to have a life outside of their work. This article touches upon that: The Key To Having A Life Is Setting Hard Boundaries
But what he says at the end of the article can apply to either type:
“Think about the most important things in your life, and set hard boundaries to protect them. At first, it may feel uncomfortable to tell people “no,” but the more you do it, the easier it will become, and the happier you (and your loved ones) will be!”
What do you think? Do you have challenges creating boundaries for yourself when it comes to your work, self-care, or any other “appointment” that you make for you?