Am I the only one here that longs for the days of my ‘90s youth when the only way to reach each other was by corded landlines? No? Ok, good.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a huge fan of my cell phone. I get distracted easily, I have a hard time saying no to social requests, and I feel pressure to immediately respond to texts. I’ve done ‘no-communication weekends’ where I didn’t sign into social networking and powered my phone off Friday evening through Sunday evening and I loved it! I hate my cell phone so much, one of my favorite parts of my office desk job was being able to feel like I didn’t have to respond to anyone for a nine hour block during the day.
But I can’t just shut off my phone and disconnect from Facebook anymore. As a freelance writer, it’s essential that I keep connected to my phone and email because I operate my career 100% online. That means I had to clearly define the lines between my personal and professional life.
Setting boundaries when you work your own schedule can be really difficult, but not impossible. Here are 4 tips:
- Tell them
Make sure everyone knows. Update your Facebook and LinkedIn. Tell them you are working remotely so they aren’t surprised when you get back to them at funky hours of the day.
- Create a schedule
Make a legit schedule to give to people that tells them when you are definitely busy. Something like, ‘I’m unavailable from 10am-3pm during the week.’ Let people know that these hours are the hours you expect to be left alone unless it’s an urgent matter. This should help prevent of frivolous texts when people have to stop and think about if it’s within your working hours or not (even if you aren’t working during the entire time block, shhhhh, no one will know and you’ll still feel like you have some undistracted work time.)
- Require notice on social requests
People that don’t work traditional office hours are going to be really excited that you are now ‘available’ during the week. ‘I wonder what Lisa is working on today? Maybe I should call her and see if she wants to go to the zoo instead of work.’ UM. OF COURSE I WANT TO GO TO THE ZOO INSTEAD OF WORK….and that’s why I require a two day notice when my friends and family ask if we can spend time together. Because I am impulsive and will say yes if I don’t.
Don’t accept impromptu invitations to hang out or that will turn into a pattern for yourself. Tell your friends and family that you need to be asked at least two-days before if they want to do anything during the day. If you think that sounds strict, realize it’s actually a completely reasonable request. Remember, you are your own boss, and a two day notice is a pretty lenient requirement from a boss to let you skip your work to go play.
- Be flexible sometimes, too.
Your friends and family are going to ask you to go to swimming pools, museums, hiking, garage-sailing, theme parks, and other places that would otherwise be packed on the weekends. Go. Give in, sometimes. Hopefully, they can ask in advance, but if not, don’t miss a great opportunity by turning down every single last-minute request you get. That’s the beauty of making your own schedule. You get to go do the fun things during the week you forgot all about while you were stuck at your traditional office job all week! Being able to leave work to go do something you don’t want to miss is one of the biggest perks of being an independent worker. Find a healthy balance.
Your friends and family don’t know what your schedule is. A lot of them don’t know how hard you truly work, because freelance work can be incredibly hard to quantify (especially when you are coming for the corportey-monthly metrics and tangible goals world). Unless you tell them otherwise, people are going to try and get a hold of you at any time during the day and evenings. Hopefully, once you’ve laid down the law, people will respect your space now that you are working on your own set schedule. And just in case you’re one of mine, I’m should be available on the weekends and after 4pm on the weekdays :).
How have you set your own boundaries with those close to you while working on your own schedule?