I’m coming to the end of my third anniversary of choosing to work for myself instead of working for someone else. It has been quite the learning curve and roller coaster ride—and yet, the thought of returning to the 9–5 workforce fuels my hustle. I’ve decided that going back is not an option.
One of the steepest curves I had to learn was balance. “Work-life balance” is one of those phrases everyone promises, but no one honors. Most people are willing to work through their lunch breaks, route their work emails to their personal smartphones, answer emails before and after working hours, and work from home after 8 hours in the office. Leaving the office served as my mental trigger to the transition from the end of a workday to beginning of mommy duty. Working from home made it harder to signal the end of a workday. I found myself working day and night—trying to talk to clients while chopping onions for dinner or emailing clients while at pushing my kids on the swings—I never created boundaries for the work-life balance I desperately needed.
Start setting boundaries to Jedi-mind-trick your brain to shut down the same way your computer does at the end of the workday. It took a couple of weeks for my clients to embrace my new boundaries as well. I stopped answering calls after 5 pm. I stopped responding to emails sent after 5 pm. And, I refrained from responding until after 9 am. There were a few clients who were upset that I didn’t answer their weekend phone calls—but I was okay with that. In order to keep everything in line and on track, you have to be very clear about where the lines are drawn. Otherwise, slowly but surely, things will start falling by the wayside. Before you know it, you’ll be in over your head, burned out, and stressed to the max.
Set your boundaries now—you won’t lose clients for it, you’ll only gain their respect.