Setting boundaries in your work and personal life can be challenging, but when balanced highly rewarding. It can be hard to know where to draw the line or even understand our own personal boundaries. What are you willing to accept or not accept? How do you separate your work from your life? Or your life from work? Setting boundaries is important for your own health and will allow you live with more balance between the two. Remember, you owe it to yourself to be happy.
Determine your boundaries
The first step in setting boundaries is determining what boundaries you want to set. Take time to think about what will work for your life and business and how the two are separated for you. This is something that only you can determine and it may take some trial and error to figure out exactly what kind of boundaries you need to help you draw the line between work and life. Set clear boundaries for yourself and then test them out to see what works best and what doesn't.
For me, I try to have set office hours for working on my business and set family time dedicated to my husband and son. This means that I have to get up early and stay up late some nights to work and that I have to put the phone down during family time. Having dedicated time for each allows me to be more focused on that task during its time and less distracted thinking of all the other things I "should" be doing. I also make sure my customers and clients are aware that I can only be reached by email unless we schedule an appointment so that work does not overtake life unexpectedly with calls. The last thing I try to do is to turn my brain off from work during family time. This is by far the hardest thing and something I have yet to master, but it is one thing that helps to truly draw a line between work and life. I know that if I am spending time with my family but my brain is still thinking about those projects or ideas, then I am not fully present in the moment and letting work take over life.
Hold yourself accountable
It won't do you any good to set boundaries if you don't hold yourself accountable for them. Sometimes this means to bring in an outside source who can help you stay on track and make sure you are sticking to your boundaries. Maybe it's simply printing a list of your boundaries and hanging it on your wall or fridge as a reminder of where to draw the line. You could even create a check system for yourself for when the lines are blurry and you're not sure what to do. Regardless, it's important to hold yourself accountable for what you set out to do. Make sure that you stick to your boundaries and it will quickly become second nature.
I like to have a set schedule and routine so that I now when I am working and when I am playing. I think that this helps in creating those boundary lines and keeps you on track. But at the same time, the key to a successful routine is being flexible. I learned this lesson hard after my son was born. So often I would find a good routine only to have it thrown off the next day and have to completely shift gears. But that's life. Things change. Stuff comes up. Our schedules get rearranged. Sometimes we just don't even have a routine. Being flexible will help you to keep your boundaries firm will still rolling with the punches. Understanding that things will not go as planned some days will remind you that it's all about balance.
Give yourself grace
The lines will get crossed. Things will be unbalanced. Sometimes your boundaries will disappear. It's inevitable. But realizing that this will happen and that it's ok is the first step towards more joy in your life. I'm sure you've heard me say it before, but giving yourself grace for those times is essential.
Figuring out where to draw the line comes from practice and patience. Over time you will see where you should draw the line and when you feel like you are overstepping the boundaries. If you find yourself feeling guilty about working when you should be at your daughter's soccer game, then you need to set a boundary. Make it a rule that you don't work on game days. If you feel like you are falling behind and never get any work done because you are always doing something around the house, set a boundary. Determine a schedule for house work, or get some help, that allows for more work time. You might be thinking that it sounds good but is impossible to obtain. If you really say that you don't do any work on Saturdays then you will never have time to work. But in reality, it will start off that way, but then you will adjust. You will figure out how to become more productive in the time you do get to work so that you don't have to do extra work on weekends or feel guilty about spending time with your family.
The lines are different for everyone, but there are lines somewhere. If the boundaries are blurred in your life, it might be time to step back and evaluate how you spend your time. Work on setting realistic boundaries in your life so that you can better define your work/life balance.