3 Biz Boundaries I Love To Free Up Your Time

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Are you a "tell me what you need and I’ll help you" type of person?

Coaches and all of us helping professionals often posses keen "attunement" skills. Meaning, we naturally sense when someone may need help or is feeling stuck.

But when does jumping in to help someone, shift from helpfulness to distraction?

Setting boundaries and sticking to them doesn’t make you a bad person…it makes you a better coach!

Here are 3 common situations — and what to do in each — where you don’t need to be available 24/7 in order for your clients to feel the full measure of your caring and support.

Tip #1 Do You Have Clearly Defined “I’m available for you” Hours?

To grow your business (and to keep from getting burned out) you need to set up the days where you’re available to answer client emails or phone calls. For example, in my business those days are Tuesday – Thursday.

And what happens if a client emails or calls outside of those times? I let them know when we first start working together what my office hours are. I share that if they email or call outside of those times, I may or may not be available to get back to them. I also let them know they are my priority before answering other email or phone calls so just as soon as I’m in, I’ll be responding.

On occasion a client will email on Friday, and then again on Monday if they didn’t get a response. Here is what I do in that situation: I answer their email, then, at the end I write:

"I want to be sure you know that I’m always happy to answer questions and coach via email Tuesday – Thursday. Days outside of that range I am
typically not at my computer so anything sent Thursday evening may not be responded to until Tuesday."

Tip #2 Prioritize What Makes You Feel Like You

Yes, it takes a big investment of your energy and attention to grow your business, but that doesn’t mean it has to consume your life. And if it is, this is a sure sign that you’re struggling with taking on too much and not thinking strategically enough.

How to escape? First, what is it that lights you up? For me it’s riding and spending quality time outside with my horses. I love nature and breathing fresh air. Plus, I find this time acts like an instant shot of espresso for my creativity.

For you it may be early morning work-out sessions, singing, dance classes or even bowling. What’s important is to engage in some type of physical activity 3-4 days each week. What’s key here is not just to think about it, but to sign up for an activity that keeps you accountable. Then, build your work time around it. For example, my team knows mornings are my horse time each day, so they don’t schedule anything that would conflict.

Even if you’re not quite sure yet what activity you’re going to engage in, slot an hour into your calendar anyway, because unless you create the time, you’ll never make the time.

Tip #3 Say ‘No’ With The Same Joy As You Say ‘Yes’

Most women are uncomfortable saying ‘no’ and that discomfort is expressed as a defensive tone of voice. Why? Because women hate hurting someone else’s feelings, or they feel they have to ‘get tough’ in order to stand up for themselves.

The opposite is true. When you say ‘no’ with clarity, conviction and an absence of guilt, you’re standing in your power. You’re self-respect and your credibility are intact, and you will (mostly) avoid power struggles.

Want to practice? Try saying the following sentence out loud, while feeling concerned you may get push-back from the receiver:

"I’m sorry, but I can’t be available at that time. I have other priorities I already committed to that need my full attention."

How did if feel —defensive or even a little argumentative?

Now, say the same sentence out loud, while feeling fully confident, knowing that you’re respecting yourself and the commitments you’ve already made:

"I’m sorry, but I can’t be available at that time. I have other priorities I already committed to that need my full attention."

The best boundaries can be set with the energy of giving (not taking away)

Giving, gratitude and appreciation are core values for me, even when declining an opportunity, saying ‘no’ to someone or setting a clear boundary. Feeling connected to your core values will help you stay in a place of compassion, without tipping the scales into the zone of guilt, repeated apology or feeling badly.

Remember, boundaries don’t cut off opportunities…they define what you allow into your life!

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Comments

  1. Great article, thanks Kendall! For #3, my favorite go-to phrase is “I would be glad to help you with that. My next available time is…” Works like a charm 🙂

  2. Wonderful advice and very cleanly given. Work I did around Distraction this summer let me know that Distraction is asking me to do exactly what you spelled out here – set good, clear, boundaries. We often think boundaries are “mean” but I love what I’m finding (and what Brene Brown found in her research) – it’s hard to be compassionate when someone is walking all over you. The clearer someone is with their “no” the more trustworthy their “yes”. I know this is true for me.

  3. #1 is GOLDEN. Thanks Kendall!

  4. Great reminder to feel empowered when holding up our boundary. I particularly resonate with #2 – I workout or do my yoga practice every morning before I start my client hours (a couple of exceptions for my European clients but I made it very clear about this intentional breaking of the rule) and it helps me to stay focused and creative.

    Women coaches often make the false assumption that they will lose the client or become “unloved” and “unaccepted” if they don’t cater to the clients’ every need, but then become resentful when they lose their “self” in the process, compromising the quality of work they deliver, thus creating a no-win situation for everyone involved. We have to become aware of this fear and challenge our limiting beliefs.

  5. I love no.1 and find my clients respond really well to the clear guidelines.

  6. I love saying no and my boundaries with clients are relatively solid.

    I’m adding Pilates to my calendar! Always makes me feel fantastic.

    Carla xo