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As entrepreneurs, we’re often putting our heart and soul into our business. Our business is our baby and we want to do EVERYTHING to keep it happy, right?
Unfortunately, we sometimes forget our own needs in the process. We’re often so consumed with our business that we don’t know how to stop.
So, in this article we’ll look at how to set boundaries as an entrepreneur.
This is somewhat of a timely exercise for myself as well, as I’m still practicing to set proper boundaries as a business owner.
Just a short while back, I basically didn’t have any boundaries when it came to my business whatsoever! I was available all the time, I’d be working pretty much around the clock and I was generally in hustle mode.
Since I’m still working in my day job, I quickly realized that this wasn’t a sustainable way to run a business. Especially because I also still wanted to be present in my relationship and with my friends and family.
So, I started setting up one boundary after the other. This is still a work in progress so I can give you some first-hand advice.
Here are my 11 favorite ways to set boundaries as an entrepreneur.
1. Get your mindset right
Okay, let’s start with the mindset, as we do so often.
Honestly, our mindset is really what stands in our own way most of the time. I see it time and time again with myself: whenever I’m stuck, it’s because of my own limiting beliefs, my fear of failure or some other fear or simply a lack of confidence.
So, mindset is really the first thing we need to tackle!
Now, I get it, your business is your everything! The only issue is, if you’re working yourself to the ground, you can’t serve it at all!
Setting up boundaries is really important to protect yourself. Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”?
Yeah, that’s pretty much what it comes down to.
If you’re always overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s impossible to show up for your business and your clients in the best possible way. So, look at boundaries as something to protect your mental health but also as something to guarantee a high standard of your services!
2. Make sleep a top priority
Next up is sleep.
Now you might say: what? What does sleep have to do with boundaries?
A whole lot, actually!
Have you ever realized that you get really grumpy and unfocused when you didn’t get enough sleep? I actually even get physically sick if I sleep less than 7.5 hours/night for a couple of days…
You can only show up as your best self if you’re well-rested. This allows you to work in the most focused way and get the best results in the least amount of time.
So, make sleep a tip priority. I’m really kind of lucky that I experience such drastic consequences if I don’t get enough sleep. Look out for what you’re experiencing after a short night and remind yourself that this won’t help you move forward as an entrepreneur.
3. Implement routines
A great way to set boundaries as an entrepreneur is by implementing routines. Routines allow us to do a certain string of actions without giving it much thought. But it’s also a great way to have some clear rules for yourself about what happens at a particular time of the day.
Start with a morning and an after work routine. Think of actions that energize and motivate you for the morning and actions that relax you and help you shift your focus in the evening. Then, get rid of draining and soul sucking habits like mindlessly scrolling through social media or checking your emails first thing in the morning.
I used to literally check my phone the minute I got up. However, I realized that this just caused a bunch of overwhelm and anxiety in the morning which is really the last thing you need.
So, I’ve started putting habits in between getting up and checking my phone that helped me have a better start into my day.
Now, my morning routine looks more or less like that:
- getting up, leaving my phone on flight mode
- taking a shower and get dressed
- brush my teeth while turning on my phone (I quickly look at the incoming messages but that’s about it)
- Taking my dog for a walk while listening to a podcast
- Meditating for 1 hour
- Breakfast and checking my phone for real for the first time
So now, the first time I actually go through my phone is about 2 hours after I get up! Ugh, so much better!
The after work routine is equally important. As entrepreneurs, we often struggle to go from work mode to relax mode and we keep checking our emails or replying to DMs etc.
This is why you should also create a few habits that help you shift your focus. What I like to do between working in my day job and working for my business is to take a long walk with my dog while listening a podcast, preparing a snack, journaling and watching some documentary videos. That helps me to get in a completely different mental zone.
Remember, you don’t need to be on 24/7. This will just lead to burn out which no one will benefit from!
4. Choose one top priority per day
Another really important aspect of setting boundaries is to be clear about your priorities. You simply can’t do everything! Some tasks will always be more important than others. And by being clear about your priorities you also automatically set boundaries.
Choose one top priority per day and work on that first or at least in the morning. Once that’s done, you don’t need to force yourself to do all the other not so important things. They likely won’t move your business, anyway.
5. Put your phone away while working
Okay, now this is a really good one: put your phone away while working!
One part where we all struggle to set boundaries is with our phone. We can access the whole world through it and particularly the social media world has endless gems to look at.
Unfortunately, scrolling through IG won’t help your business grow! Sure, being active on social is important and can be part of your growth strategy. But if that’s the case, it’s much better to set a timer and go on there twice or three times a day where you actually engage with your audience and that’s it.
For the rest, put your phone in a different room and focus on your actual work.
6. Give each day a topic
Another thing that really helped me set boundaries as an entrepreneur is to give each day a topic.
This means that I will for the most part only work on one kind of task during each day. This is what my topics look like:
- Monday: writing blog posts and shooting videos
- Tuesday: calls and client work
- Wednesday: outreach
- Thursday: outreach, Pinterest and technical issues
- Friday: Back up
- Saturday: everything for my second website
- Sunday: planning (coaching calls, content)
I’m currently only doing calls on Tuesday but I would also take them on Wednesday and Friday. But that’s it! I’m not doing calls on every day of the week. Because this way, I’d just be super scattered.
By having one main topic for each day, you’ll be able to stay in one mental zone and avoid context switching. Plus, it’s much easier to tell your clients that you’re only available on your call days if you’ve already defined that for yourself.
Btw, if you’d like to plan your content a little more in advance instead of last minute, make sure to check out this article about how to create a content calendar in Google Sheets. Or download my free content calendar template 2021 straight away!
7. Set up focus blocks and fun blocks
I highly recommend working in blocks. You probably have at least two blocks per day when you’re able to focus really well. For me that’s in the morning and in the late afternoon. So, that’s when I have my focus blocks.
The super early morning, early afternoon and evening block aren’t my high focus time so that’s when I have fun blocks or my morning routine.
The good thing about being an entrepreneur is that you get to choose when you want to work. So, choose the times when you’re naturally able to focus more easily during the day.
8. Put those blocks into your calendar
Now, those blocks should go right into your calendar!
You need to be able to see them right away. And you should especially schedule in the fun stuff! This is super important because it gives you deadlines. If you have something scheduled at 7pm, you’re much more likely to get your work done by that time. Whereas if you have all night, you’ll likely need all night to get your business stuff done (Parkinson’s Law).
So, again, make fun and leisure stuff a priority and remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup…
9. Get rid of notifications
Notifications are the worst!
They’re just soooo distracting! Every time something pops up, you get distracted from what you’re actually working on.
That really doesn’t serve you. You’ll probably get your work done twice as fast if you aren’t distracted every 2 minutes. So, turn them off! And implement the next 2 email strategies instead.
10. Only check your emails at preset times
The most common notifications we get on our laptop is probably from emails. Not only are the notifications highly distracting but you’re probably also replying to emails throughout the whole day. This makes you feel incredibly busy but you likely don’t get a whole lot done that really moves the needle.
Of course you need to check your email. But instead of doing it constantly, close your email program and schedule in specific times during the day (for instance 2 or 3 times per day) where you’ll check your email. Trust me, that’s more than enough to catch and reply to everything in time.
11. Set up an email management system
And last but not least another email tip: set up an email management system!
Along with scheduling times to check your email, also determine certain blocks during the week when you’ll get to emails that need a longer reply. This way you know exactly what needs to happen with those messages instead of running after them day in and day out.
Also make sure to set up folders and filters to manage your email even more efficiently.
I’ve actually got a detailed step by step guide for better email management. So, make sure to check it out next. And you might also like my article about how to delete more than 50 emails in Gmail to be super efficient!
Alright, so these are my 11 favorite ways to set boundaries as an entrepreneur.
If you’re not doing any of these yet, just start with one! It took my years to implement all of these into my day to day life. So, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out straight away.
Start working on your mindset and really focus on the benefits of having clear boundaries. Then, try one tip out for a week and see how you can best use it in your business routine. Over time, you’ll find that having boundaries will give you more energy and you’ll easily get your work done in less time!
Another thing that can be really helpful to get rid of stress and overwhelm is to plan ahead. This is why I’ve created a free content calendar template 2021. Make sure to download it now to get started right away!