Time for some real talk, friend. I know it’s hard being your own boss. There are days when it seems like the work doesn’t ever have an end. It’s like the never-ending laundry pile. (Any mamas relate with me?)!
Here’s the thing… Even though work can get overwhelming it’s important that we still keep boundaries within our business. If we don’t a few things can happen
1. You’ll burnout.
Burnout is a real thing. When we run ourselves too thin trying to do all things, we begin to make ourselves weary and resentful of the work we once loved. Which results in burnout. Many think that burnout happens quickly, and it can, but I’ve seen burnouts more often happen over a slow period of time.
One way you can recognize if a burnout is in your near future is if you start resenting things you once loved. Whether that be with a sigh every time you have to sit at your computer to edit photos or you immediately start regretting booking new sessions when the day comes to the booked session.
2. Your personal life will suffer.
This reason doesn’t just relate to those of us who have spouses and children. Even if you’re single, your personal life will begin to suffer consequences of not keeping to your business boundaries.
Overworking can lead to lack of sleep. It can lead to quick, unhealthy lunches (or no lunch at all). And, it can lead to you saying “no” to a much needed night out with the girls because you simply have too much to do.
3. You won’t be giving work 110%.
The reason I love being a niche photographer is because I’m able to truly focus on each one of my clients. I’m able to educate myself on all the things related to newborn photography to be the expert for my clients. I give 110% every time I show up for a session or sit at my desk to edit a new gallery.
If I’m not following the boundaries for my business, my work ethic slacks tremendously. So even though you may be getting things checked off on your to-do list, ask yourself if you’re really giving the items the full attention they need? Your answer is going to be “no.”
Now, I know that there are seasons of life that are just downright busy. And, sometimes you do have to set an evening aside to focus on all things work BUT you can’t let it become a habit.
Here are some tangible tips for setting your own boundaries within your business.
1. Choose one method for your business communication.
Facebook messages, email, Instagram DMs, phone calls, Snapchat, text messages, Tiktok, etc. Oh boy, I can’t even keep up. With questions and messages coming in from so many different avenues, it’s easy to get confused and have important communication fall through the cracks. This is why I funnel every inquiry and question to my email inbox. This helps me to stay more organized when all of my client communication is in one place.
2. STOP TEXTING YOUR CLIENTS.
Sorry for yelling. I really am. But this one is so, so important and I see way too many photographers drop the ball on this one simple rule. I am very protective over my personal phone number and guess what…I never give it to my clients.
When clients have your cell phone number, the relationship immediately goes from professional to personal and they may think it’s okay to text you any time they have a question, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
Nope, nope, nope. Not okay, my friend. The easiest way to maintain that professional boundary is to only communicate through email. I even suggest deleting your email app on your phone and only checking your business email on your computer during your office hours!
I use a free Google Voice phone number that I give to clients the week of their session so that can reach me the day of their session. They can call or text that phone number and it forwards to my cell phone. I turn off all notifications to that phone number unless I’m heading to a session, so all calls or texts that are sent on other days will go unseen.
If you go this route, it’s important to let your clients know about this boundary and that email will continue to be the best way to contact you. You don’t want them to feel ignored if their calls and texts go unanswered.
3. Set your office hours.
As a homeschool mom and newborn photographer, my mornings are spent at the school table or photographing babies. The afternoon is my time to check email and tackle other business tasks. I do not sit at my computer from 9am-5pm, and it’s important that my clients are aware of my office hours so they know when to expect a reply to their emails.
Having your office hours in your email signature is the easiest way to set that communication boundary with your clients. If your desk hours are inconsistent, then a typical Monday thru Friday, 9am-5pm signature is just fine! Just be sure to step away from the computer and phone at the end of your office hours–whatever time you decide is best for you–because now it’s family time.
If you’re a service provider, I also suggest limiting the hours or days that you see clients so as not to overload your calendar. For example, as a photographer I only shoot 6-8 sessions per month. Once my calendar is booked, it’s booked and I don’t take any more clients. This is the easiest way to avoid the burnout I mentioned above!
4. Designate a complete day off (or two) every week.
Sunday is my complete day off. I don’t check email, photograph sessions, or even post on social media. No. Work. At. All. And unless I have a maternity session, Saturdays are also days that I don’t check or reply to emails.
Choose one or two days that you can completely block off from work and designate as personal or family time. If working weekends works for you and your family, then block off weekdays instead. It’s your call!
Tell me how you keep boundaries within your business?