For many entrepreneurs, working 24/7 is often the order of the day; after all, that business isn’t going to build itself, right? But poor boundaries can lead to increased stress, a poor work-life balance, and ultimately burnout.
With good boundaries in place, entrepreneurs are able to establish priorities, set goals, and develop systems to achieve those goals, creating a pathway that leads to success.
1. Establish Your Priorities
Your priorities and values play a large role in establishing boundaries needed to reach entrepreneurial success. Whether your priorities are family-based, financially driven, or a combination of both, you have the benefit of creating a life that allows you to live out the priorities you establish.
Take the time to write out what really matters to you, and be specific. Then allow those priorities to be what motivates you to live within well-developed boundaries.
2. Set Your Goals
If you’ve taken very many trips around the sun, you’ve likely heard the benefit of setting goals by now. It’s not new information. But within the context of being an entrepreneur, setting goals based on your priorities moves you one step closer to success.
For example, if you have established that spending more time with your family is a priority, you might set a goal to attend all of your daughter’s at-home soccer games. Then, as you are planning out your workweek, you’ll take that goal and incorporate it into your schedule. When that unavoidable meeting pops up, your stress level about missing a game is reduced because you know you’re there for most of them. When your stress level is reduced, studies reveal you are more focused and your brainpower is improved, factors critical to your success.
3. Develop a System
Within the context of setting and keeping boundaries, you’ll want to develop a system that helps ensure you are keeping your priorities and reaching your goals. One great way to do that is by establishing a routine check-in with your calendar from the week before. This allows you to assess how well you scheduled your days and what steps you need to take to pull things back into alignment with your priorities.
4. Manage Expectations
A common misconception about entrepreneurs is that they are available 24/7. Boundaries related to your workflow are perhaps the most difficult for most entrepreneurs to keep. It’s easy to fire off a response to that incoming, late-night text message, but doing so may communicate more than you realize.
Begin early on by communicating your boundaries to your clients, vendors, and employees, as well as your family. Establish a workday, email response times, and the ways that are acceptable for communication.
5. Own Your Calendar
Your time is one of your most valuable assets, and when managed well, it drives you forward toward success. The goal of your calendar is to be a tool that keeps you on track within the boundaries, goals, and priorities you have established.
For example, if you schedule 90-minute blocks on your calendar throughout the day and assign your projects/tasks to those blocks, you will begin to eventually train yourself to block all distractions that aren’t related to that project during that time.
Additionally, calendaring things such as dinner nights and/or movie nights with your family may keep you focused and determined to complete your projects scheduled for that day.
6. Learn to Say No
The word “no” can often have a negative connotation, however, when a gracious no is used correctly, it gives us plenty of room to say yes. The word no gives us the freedom to focus on our business and protect our boundaries. Try adding the word “no” to your regular vocabulary and watch your calendar open up for things you never knew you had time to do.
Boundaries are the key to unlocking your entrepreneurial success. Being intentional with your priorities, your goals, and your time will allow you to create a business you’ll love and a life worth living.