October 6, 2020
October 6, 2020
Anxiety. Burnout. Unproductivity. Sleepless nights. Not being able to turn off my mind.
I’m sure any solopreneur or any business owner out there has experienced these feelings while trying to run their business. I know I have. Which is why one of the most important things I’ve learned as a solopreneur is what boundaries I need to set for myself to avoid those feelings and enjoy my life and job.
Here are the most important boundaries I’ve set that have made the biggest difference:
This is the one I probably have the hardest time sticking to, but it’s also the one that makes the biggest difference in my productivity and mental state. I’d gotten into such a bad habit of constantly wanting to refresh my email or instagram to see if there was anything new.
The problem is that, not only was this an extremely distracting habit, it also left me feeling anxious all the time. It left me not wanting to respond to an email right away and then thinking about it for hours until I did or required me to leave my original task to take care of it. It left me wondering why I wasn’t immediately getting the engagement I wanted on instagram or mindlessly scrolling.
Nobody needs an immediate email response from me. Checking and responding to email twice a day easily fits my 24-hour response rule. And the latest posts, stories, and likes on instagram aren’t going anywhere.
I’d also like to note that weekends are NOT one of my scheduled times for either of these activities. It’s time to recharge and disconnect that I definitely need to help me feel refreshed by Monday.
This boundary is basically my way of enforcing the first boundary. In an ideal day I enjoy a super focused, productive work time. I finish everything on my to-do list in the scheduled work time and have spare time to do whatever else I’d like. The only way that’s possible is by avoiding distractions and focusing on the task at hand.
Keeping my phone, notifications, and temptations away from me is the only way I can accomplish this. The days that I end up giving into distractions I feel like I spend the whole day trying to get work done that could’ve taken half the time.
Ironically, I set this boundary for myself about a month before Covid closures hit and I was forced to stay home. But that just made it even more evident how effective this is when it can be done. When I’m at home I just don’t have the same level of attentiveness to what I’m doing. I feel more laid back and like I have all the time in the world to get something done because I don’t have anywhere else to be. But when I go work in a coffee shop or now in our apartment’s community space there feels like a limit to the amount of time I want to spend there so I need to wrap up my work before I go home. And that time limit is key.
I am not creative or focused in the afternoons. And when I try to be I end up just wasting my afternoon and hardly getting anything done. It was one of my biggest struggles when working a 9-5. So now that I can set my own schedule, why am I still trying to force creativity to happen in the afternoon? In the morning and night I’m so inspired and excited to create, whether it’s on client work or a personal project. So when I allow afternoons to be filled with fun or even less creative tasks, the day flows much more smoothly. Don’t fight your natural tendencies.
This is a new boundary I implemented this year and it has been the most effective change I’ve made. I love batch-working, but meetings were the one thing that got in the way of that. It felt so hard to get into a creative zone when I had to break for a meeting.
Plus, as an introvert meetings tend to drain my energy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy meeting with people, but I always felt tired after a call. Having a meeting in the middle of a Monday left me not wanting to do creative work the rest of the day. Having all my meetings on Thursdays lets me get in the right headspace and stay there for a single day of meetings.
The one thing that held me back from originally doing this was the concern that other people would have a problem with it. I will occasionally have a meeting that doesn’t happen on a Thursday if it doesn’t work for someone’s schedule, but for the most part it has been way simpler that I could’ve imagined.
I’m always learning new ways I can improve my mental health, creativity, and productivity and these have been the best I’ve come up with at this point. Of course I’m not perfect at keeping all of these boundaries, but it’s so noticeable when I do.
What boundaries do you set for yourself?
You might also like: