No, it's not Bruno; we can talk about him. It's that other B that causes us so much strife. BOUNDARIES.
Some have many; some have few. Some of us are rigorous with keeping our boundaries; others are more fluid. However you perceive them, boundaries are crucial to our success as full-time freelancers (and kind of important everywhere else in life, too!).
But what are they?
A boundary is an edge; the outside edge of a location for that matter. It's the point at which something stops belonging to one space and becomes property of another. Countries have boundaries; moles do, too. So - and this is important - do people.
Our boundaries are what keeps us, well, us. They're an indicator of what we tolerate and what we do not. They define what we do, say, and accept in ourselves. They draw a line which others may or may not cross (depending on how well we know that person).
We have boundaries to protect ourselves; physically, emotionally, and mentally. The 'outside edge' of what we deem to be acceptable behaviour, language, or thought keeps us safe because, when the boundary is crossed, it alerts us to something dangerous.
Our boundaries give us clarity. Like a pane of glass, our boundaries are there - hidden in plain sight - always offering us a clear line on which we can measure our perception of the world around us. They make things pretty damn clear for people around us, too. If you're making your boundaries known it becomes easy for people to keep within them, outside of them, or to smash them completely (Those people we do NOT need in our lives, for what it's worth).
The boundaries we create dictate what and who we trust and respect, and how other people can both trust and respect us. As soon as someone oversteps the mark and crosses a boundary without permission it's a sign of disrespect and our trust in that person is degraded.
If we have boundaries, how and why are we breaking them for ourselves?
There are many ways we subconsciously devalue our boundaries and make it easy for people to do the same. One way is by giving away our time.
A significant pitfall of being a creative freelancer is THE CLOCK; it becomes both our slave and our master all at once. This time-freedom gives us the ability to work literally whenever we want. 7AM? Gotcha. Sunday afternoon in front of the TV? You bet.
When we say to our clients or peers "Don't worry, I can work whenever; I'm always available." we are trampling all over a boundary which we must - and I say MUST because it's important - uphold. Our time is our own, not theirs. As soon as you advertise that someone can access you and expect work at any point you've given away one of the core things which makes freelance work so appealing to so many people. And I mean, you're not a creative streaming service; nobody can sign into you and download a new logo or business card at the drop of a hat!
Because you're the boss (Yes, you are!) you are at liberty to say what you want and need; what your boundaries are. No client will ever think ill of you for that and, if they do, they're not worth taking on as a client.
Instead of saying that you're always on, advertise when someone could expect to hear back from you or when it is appropriate to contact you. Anything outside of that is a breach in your boundaries.
So where then are your borderlines? What boundaries have you set for yourself and your business? And, how are you strengthening and upholding them?
If you find you're struggling with defining and keeping strong boundaries in your work life, drop me a line and let's talk. I support people just like you to better define their professional freelance life around their boundaries and what truly matters to them.