Enforce Your Boundaries
This next tip may go against the nature of any small business owner who wants to stay on top of all aspects of the business, but remember: if you don’t want to communicate outside of your designated work hours, you’re not under any obligation to do so.
Set the boundaries in the beginning of the project by defining the appropriate times and channels of communication and letting clients know when they can expect you to be accessible. If you make it clear and are responsive when you say you will be, the client should be less likely to feel neglected or upset when they don’t hear from you in your free time.
Simply wait to respond to that call, text message, or email until the next business day. There’s a good chance the client won’t mind, and if they do, it’s an opportunity to reinforce your boundaries by reminding them that the communication came in during your personal time. Even though you are a service provider, you can be in control of your boundaries.
“I’ve had a couple of homeowners who have endlessly texted on the weekends. If it’s an emergency, which it usually isn’t, I will not respond until Monday morning. But these were people who could text all day. If I thought the message was coming from someone who can ask a question and be done with it, I will answer.” Janeane Severyns, Kane Home Cabinetry and Design
“At the beginning of the project, I bring up my business hours, saying, ‘I can schedule an interview during such and such hours’. I reiterate during the first interview, and I’ll say, ‘Feel free to email me at any time, but please understand I will respond during working hours.’ For the most part, my clients understand and respect my after work unavailability.” Tali Hardonag, Architect