Creating Boundaries Between Work and Play
Creating personal boundaries can be quite a task when you own a small business. A large portion of this pertains to those that work at home. Time at “home” and time in the “office” can, more often than not, blur into one line. These boundaries must be drawn, not only in a professional context but also within your family.
Do you always answer the phone when it rings? With a small business blooming, it can be a helpful call, or a distraction to throw you off of your game. It’s a toss-up. How do you exit a personal conversation politely when you have work to do? It can be a careful balance to maintain relationships. Respect for time can be a struggle. You must utilitize all of your social tools to have certain rules with clients and family regarding time, space, and resources. The last thing you want to have to deal with is forgetting a social engagement and having your work bleed into family time. Those relationships can spiral quickly when your priorities are not firmly in place.
Social engagements are important, but clients must be a priority or your small business will flounder. Having a client show up to your house at night or on a weekend will not only be uncomfortable for you, but unappreciated by those that consider your personal time parallel to their personal time.
Some ways to curb these possible issues are tools of time management. Time management is a frequent topic of small business blogs. To be frank, if you are poor at time management your small business will fail. Since managing your time is an all-too-common topic on blogs, I would like to introduce other tips to balancing time and creating boundaries.
First, and I believe most importantly, learn to say NO. You may think this is easy, but when your child is home sick or your mother calls with something “important” not saying NO can cost you an easy afternoon. Lines must be drawn and family and friends will become secondary, at least for the moment.
Contradictorily, you must also be flexible. Learning to “let go” of a particularly stressful situation can only help the mental health of your family. NO is not a fun word but YES, when it is unexpected, can be a joy. Flexibility must also be a tool used toward clients or, in other words, bosses. This seems like a strange concept but having multiple clients requires a lot of give and take. You rely on their time and vice versa. Being flexible but firm can only increase a mutual understanding of personal and business boundaries.
You must schedule time for yourself and, in the same token, cut time that is wasteful. This is at the core of time management (that phrase again!) but essential to your success. Your family and friends are important. So are you. Take that bubble bath, go work out in the morning. It is the little things that will increase productivity and create a work environment meant for thriving.
Take breaks at work. This seems not only tedious but most times impossible. Creating boundaries like setting a physical time to “clock in and out” is essential, but sanity can be kept in little ways also. Eating lunch at the same time everyday is a tiny routine that gives your brain a rest. There is a reason kindergarteners get nap time. Lunch is nap time for grown-ups. It’s ingrained in us our whole lives for a reason. Remember that if you can’t work, you don’t work.
Keep yourself healthy, relatively happy, and firm in your decisions. Creating boundaries requires a steady mind behind an easy smile. Hopefully these tips hit home and help you realize that your small business is rewarding and worth the sacrifices that you and your friends and family will give up. Boundaries are required but while they do hold you to your choices, they will help you much more than they will hurt you.