Step right up and learn all about boundaries in Rule Eleven of “The 12 Rules of Freelance Writing” Series. We are so close to the finish line!
Boundaries are not just for cheeky toddlers! They are for work-at-home-mums’ and dads too.
Working from home means we have to be extra mindful that our home and business life stay as separate as possible.
This is so that our home life doesn’t distract us from our business, and vice versa.
These expectations will help you effectively manage your time, build your business, provide support and ensure your clients don’t take advantage of you.
How do boundaries do all of this?
Setting boundaries to effectively manage your time.
One of the first boundaries you need to setis to protect your working time. This could be from 7:30pm until 9:30pm (whenthe children are in bed…hopefully). During that block of time you are notavailable for anything else. It is your partner who has to deal with a thirstychild, or the dishes, or whining dog. You need to simply focus on work for thatwindow.
It doesn’t have to be those times, they are just an example. But whenever you know you will ever a relatively uninterrupted block of time that you can dedicate to work, make sure you declare that as your working time. Go into your office and put up a big “Do Not Disturb” sign. Put on noise-cancelling headphones if you have to work at the kitchen table. Be sure that your family knows that this is YOUR BUSINESS TIME and not to disturb you unless it is a life and death emergency!
Wherever, and whenever this block of time falls, be sure to discuss it with your partner. You will need their help to ensure this time is undisturbed by your children. However, if it is during the day when your partner is working away this can be difficult. So how do you
- Use nap times. My youngest (16months) still has two naps a day, at least an hour each. During this time I set my son up with an activity such as play dough, drawing, puzzles, water play or in the afternoon the TV. Then I can work relatively uninterrupted for an hour.
- Ask a family member or friend to help you out by minding your children.
- Send your children to childcare a day a week.
How does this help you EFFECTIVELY manage your time? If you use batching (a favourite time management technique of mine) you will know exactly what work you need to do in that short amount of time. So when you sit down to it you don’t need to think about it. You just write that blog post or send those cold pitches. Don’t let anything else distract your from those tasks. Don’t check your personal email or social media. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t fold washing or meal plan.
These are boundaries to eliminate distractions!
Why do you need to set these?
Studies have shown that if you constantly
Don’t mix work time with playtime (and vice versa).
I find that if I can focus solely on my children for an hour, then I can work for an hour during my youngest naptime without my 3-year-old needing much attention from me. He will be happy to draw, build block towers or play with his pay dough whilst I work. However, if I interrupt that playtime with my children to look at my phone, answer emails or write then they become more needy and unsettled.
And as mentioned above you need to protect your work time. This is so important. You need to remember you are building a business. You are a professional and you need to treat your freelance writing as such.
Set professional boundaries with your clients.
Just because you are a “freelancer” does not mean that you should be available 24/7. You need to set “office hours” so that your client knows when you are contactable and what your working hours are.
Sit down and work out feasible office hours, you do not need to set these in stone nor publish them on your website or social media profiles. However, it is a great idea to have a loose schedule so that you can let a client know roughly what hours and days you “work”.
This also helps to prevent those clients who expect you to be jumping through hoops at all hours of the day and night. You need to value yourself, and your time. Set those boundaries so that you are not taken advantage of. You will thank yourself for it later.
What boundaries should you set?
- Set your “working hours” and allow NO DISTRACTIONS during this time.
- When you sit down to work do not become side-tracked by social media or emails. Just work.
- Playtime is playtime. Focus solely on your children.
- Work time is work time. Focus solely on your work.
- Set professional boundaries with your clients.