The phone pinged. 10pm plus change. I was walking past it at the same time and casually glanced at the screen, without picking it up. Hmmm. A one-line business question popped up, sent from a reasonably new client. It wasn’t a sister-friend or my mum sending an urgent message or prayer request, in which case – reply instantly or a.s.a.p.
Question for you (without pressure to answer here; it’s more for reflection): do you have a call or message protocol set with your clients, work colleagues or managers? Ever roll your eyes, sigh in frustration or punch a pillow at certain times or on particular days when the phone pings or rings? That might be a clue showing there’s some fine-tuning to do in terms of your hours of access for work-related conversations…and that’s okay.
Anytime I find myself close to being irritated by the phone, it’s a reminder to reset the relationship with it and put it in its place – out of my face.
You’re not being unfair for wanting some time for yourself and close loved ones without having to talk business, pie charts, stats, figures and files. We’re not robots designed to recharge electronically; it’s healthy to have intermittent ‘timeouts’ between us and the gadgets that strive for our attention. These days when a mini-computer is often making noise to get ‘lift up’ in the palm of our hands, it can lead us to question whether it’s our phone or we are its person.
So, I’ve gently oriented this same client (who is quite nice) a couple times about sending messages in the daytime on weekdays only, please and thanks. Wasn’t piggy about it, and they were quite understanding. Those boundaries are for me too (here’s why), like yours are for you as a home business boss, remote working employee or indie consultant. Or maybe you’re a parent and prefer to focus on the family exclusively on weekends?
When you enjoy what you do, it can be tough to ‘turn the tap off to use water wisely’ sometimes, and when you work-from-home, the line between work and home can get blurry.
But whose business is this anyway? Why would anyone start a business only to become a hostage to it? How can we feel at home if we are constantly bombarded with career-work? Priorities and pace are key.
Yes, there are seasons when you might have to work late nights at home researching, typing or editing something and other times when you’re relaxing with a hot drink and a book, movie, documentary or YT video after a long day. In both of those cases, I’m figuring the last thing on your wish-list is taking a late non-urgent call from a client. Even if you’re interested to know what it’s about, it’s important to remember that whatever action you (or I) take at that time will set the tone for the future.
An e-mail? – possibly, but not a call or pressing message ‘holding you hostage’ because you – know – they’ve – seen – that – you’ve – read – their – message – but – aren’t – replying. Tuhn-tuhn-tuuuhhhnnnn!
Close longtime clients, that’s totally alright. They tend to be very understanding and if they do send a WhatsApp message here and there it’s usually so they don’t forget and are willing to wait until you reply. I’m thankful for that. Same for you too?
Remember when Natalia Amador mentioned how she sets her work hours, in this podcast episode? And when Scott Carson shared here about being consistent with your wake-up-and-work rhythm whether working from an office you travel to or your home workspace a few steps away? Well, those tips are so helpful and worth applying in real time as you start outlining when you (mostly) work best and how you prefer clients and colleagues to connect with you.
How you set your work hours while at home will influence how well you serve your clients or customers. We want to serve from a place of refreshment, not frustration. Remember this post about those two words – work + home? Two words, two purposes – one place.
A while back I designed a printable .PDF called ‘The Business Clarity Map” and it shares the essence of what’s in this post – ideal client (lots of lessons to be learned from the complete opposite too), best business hours, preferred workspace, knowing your intricacies, being honest about your ‘do-not-press-here’ buttons and more.
Visual reminders can help nudge us in the direction we need to grow to serve others better, especially when we forget why we set healthy boundaries for our businesses and lives in the first place and when we’re tempted to ‘burn the candle at both ends.’ Yes, there are probably gonna be marathon days and tedious tasks in between, but that’s all a part of it – muscle-building moments, but let’s still monitor our patterns.
So what are the best business hours for you (and your clients) while you’re working from home?
Do your clients and colleagues know or has it felt too awkward to gently but firmly give them that memo. You might be pleasantly surprised that your ideal client or motivating manager appreciates your honesty and gives you grace because they recognize you’re more focused, present, diligent and enthusiastic when you’re refreshed and not stressed – especially in this global season where we all could do with feeling and showing some more compassion.
Here’s hoping. For your health, state of mind and the joy factor where work is concerned, it’s worth a try. Pace yourself, sis.
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