If you’ve ever gotten to the end of your work week and realized that you’ve been working non-stop and are completely burnt out, but don’t actually know what you did in your business to move the needle forward, this episode is for you! Today I’m talking about setting and communicating boundaries so that you can run a business that actually allows you to live the life that you’ve been dreaming of while still serving your customers and clients well.
In this episode, I share:
- Why boundaries are important in both business and life
- Why over-communication is key
- How setting boundaries can actually increase your clients’ respect for you
- Different ways to honor your boundaries – even if you are a service-based business
Find it quickly:
- 3:12 – Why boundaries matter and which ones you need in your life.
- 6:23 – Creating a time budget
- 9:36 – Creating an ideal work schedule
- 10:54 – Communicating and honoring your boundaries
- 17:52 – Responding to inquiries without sacrificing your boundaries
- 19:43 – Why you should turn off all notifications
- Financial Peace University
- Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor
- Called to Create by Jordan Raynor
- Natural light alarm clock
This site contains product affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the chat! You can listen to the full episode with the player below or continue scrolling for a full transcript.
I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that you didn’t become an entrepreneur to just work another 9-5, or worse, become a slave to your business. Because let’s be honest. When you work for yourself it can feel like the work never ends. That there’s always something more to do, and until you grow out a team, that usually all falls on you.
Most of us start our businesses out a passion that we have for something. Whether that’s photography, marketing, making clay earrings, you name it – the possibilities are endless.
But what we didn’t realize is that being an entrepreneur means we wear a LOT of hats.
Not just the CEO ha. We also wear the customer service hat. The custodian hat. The marketing hat and the admin hat. Literally, all of the hats.
With lots of hats on, it can be challenging to balance the demands of running and growing your business with your personal life. But like I said before, we didn’t start our businesses to become slaves to our businesses. We started them for freedom. For time freedom and financial freedom and so many other freedoms that running your own business gives you.
But while freedom is an incredible benefit of entrepreneurship, it won’t just happen.
Running a business that actually allows you to live the life you’re dreaming of requires balance and sacrifice.
And it requires setting boundaries.
Why Should You Set Boundaries In Your Business?
In today’s episode, we’re going to be discussing some essential tips for setting boundaries in your business. This will allow you to maintain a healthy work-life balance and actually experience more of the freedom that you set out to create in the first place.
First, we’re going to be talking about why boundaries matter and how to figure out the kind of boundaries you need in your life and business. Spoiler alert: this is going to look different for everyone.
Then, we’ll talk about some practical ways to start implementing boundaries in your business TODAY.
So first – why are boundaries important?
I know so many entrepreneurs are creatives at heart, and that talking about boundaries can feel kind of icky. We want more freedom, right? So how could boundaries help us get more freedom? At first, it might not feel like that makes much sense.
But there’s a quote I love from Dave Ramsey that really helped me understand the power of boundaries.
Dave Ramsey is all about budgets. I heard this quote when we started going through Financial Peace University and struggling to create and stick to our own budgets.
Dave says that if you don’t tell your money where to go, you’ll wonder where it went.
And boy was that true for us in our finances. Until then, I had always felt like a budget was restrictive and anti-freedom. That having one meant you couldn’t spend. That quote and Dave’s teachings helped me understand that budgeting was a tool for MORE freedom. That by telling my money how I wanted to work and planning that out (aka creating a budget) meant that I was in control of my money and it was working for me. I was no longer guessing where my money was going – I had a plan for each and every dollar. And that first budget helped us stay disciplined and pay off our truck loan two years early.
And it really made me start thinking about my time in the same way.
If I don’t have a plan for my time, especially in my work, then I’ll wonder how I’m spending it. I’d get to the end of the week, feeling like I worked nonstop and then wonder what I actually did.
It wasn’t until I had a plan for both my time at work AND a plan to stop work that I finally felt in control of my time. And I think as Christian entrepreneurs this is even more important. Because while we’re called to steward our God-given gifts & talents well, we’re also called to steward our time well. To love our families well. To take care of our bodies well. That means we need to also be prioritizing our time outside of work. Setting boundaries is a key part of making that happen.
The Time Budget
Think of it as a time budget. Allocating the time you want to work and what you want to work on. That way when you’re working it’s focused and fruitful. This gives you the freedom to shut down your computer & the million tabs in your brain to be fully focused on the other areas of your life as well.
Today I want to help us start creating that “time budget” for ourselves. But here’s the thing. All of our time budgets are going to look different, in the same way that our financial budgets are going to look different. It depends on so much – our goals, our priorities, our families, etc.
For example, there was a season of running our business that we lived in an RV with no kids and wanted to ski 2-3 times a morning. So our time budget allocated for that. We got up super early to start our morning, do our devotional, and get on the mountain. That way our work day could start later and still be productive.
Now in this season, I have 3 kids under 4 and run a totally different kind of business. I only want to work 2 days a week max. I’ve cut back a ton of services. This allows me to focus on what I love the most and what serves my people best.
M boundaries in this season are way more restrictive work-wise because my goals, priorities, and family life have changed.
The first step in setting boundaries really comes down to defining your own limits. This means having clear goals, identifying your priorities, and knowing what your ideal balance looks like.
I actually don’t love the term work-life balance. I think it’s easy to think that it should all be equal somehow to feel balanced. That’s not what it is. Balance to you is going to look different than balance for me.
It’s prioritizing both your life & work well, not necessarily evenly or what others may consider “normal”
Once you’ve taken some time to think through what that ideal balance looks like for you, it’s time to put your boundaries in place. This will protect that balance and create your time budget if you will.
If you still struggle with the idea of boundaries feeling restrictive, I just want to encourage you. Boundaries are what allow us to actually live out the priorities that we say matter most to us.
It’s where the rubber meets the road.
The Ideal Work Schedule
So the first step in actually setting boundaries is setting your ideal work schedule.
Can this change? Sure. Do things come up? For sure. Kids get sick, meetings get moved, you plan vacations and trips, etc. The goal here is to set a standard set of work hours. You then have the freedom to adjust as necessary. This is simply the baseline that you start from.
So how many days a week do you want to work? What hours do you want to work those days?
This may not look the same every day – take an inventory of the personal activities that matter to you. Do you have a Bible study you want to attend in the morning one day? Maybe you’re like my husband Pete and want to schedule a mid-day pickleball game at the rec center.
Take a look at your calendar. Think about the life priorities that matter and the business goals you have, then build your work schedule around that. Try this even for 2 weeks and make adjustments as needed.
Communicating Your Boundaries
Once you’ve created your own boundaries for work, now it’s time to communicate those boundaries with others, especially your clients.
The first practical step I want you to take is to communicate your work hours & response expectations in your email signature.
This could be as simple as listing your “office hours” under your signature or letting people know to expect 2 business days for a response.
Another way you could do this is by using an auto-responder for your work email.
We use this in Daily Kairos so that we can respond immediately to inquiries while setting expectations for how we can help them and how quickly we’ll get back to them. For example, our auto-responder lets them know we’ve received their email and then it sets an expectation for a response time.
The autoresponder lets them know that we’re a small, family-run business and not huge company with outsourced customer support. We handle everything in-house and our response time reflects that. It also let’s them know that we practice Sabbath and don’t check email on the weekends.
By being clear in that autoresponder we’re better able to set expectations on how we’ll serve our clients. That way, they know when they can expect help from our team. Since we are a small team handling lots of requests, we also include some helpful links based on frequently asked questions.
You could do something like this and break down your support. For example, you could say something like:
“If you’re a current client, here’s how you can contact me or when you’ll hear back from me (for example, placing a support ticket in a different way to expedite a response)”.
“If you’re a student here’s the login link.”
“If you’re interested in working together here’s my booking link”
There are all kinds of ways to do this. The key here is to think about what you’re most frequently asked and respond preemptively.
Honoring Your Boundaries
Another way to honor your work hours and boundaries in email is to utilize the “send later” feature.
Let’s be honest, there are still nights that I check my email at 10 pm. Sometimes days don’t go according to plan, our childcare cancels and my work day doesn’t happen. Or I just want to get ahead of my work day and knock out some email responses. Either way, I’m not sending those emails at 10 pm, because I don’t want to set the expectations with clients that I’m available for them then. Instead, I’ll write my email and schedule it for my next work morning. The same goes for answering emails on the weekend.
We learned this tip the hard way when we first started our business and were answering emails all day every day. We were essentially teaching our clients to expect our response any time and that we’re always available to answer them. That’s just not the reality nor what we wanted our balance and boundaries to look like.
Using a “send later” feature in your email app is a great way to stick to your communicated boundaries with clients even if you happen to work outside of them that day.
This brings us back to an important point: communication.
Communicating your boundaries with clients is extremely important because it’ll help you serve them better and lead to way less disappointed clients. My clients right now know I work two days a week, but they also know that I’m available to them all week on Voxer. This means that they don’t expect me to be doing deep work like reviewing their funnels or helping them integrate tech and things like that, but they know if they have a quick question as they’re working on something that I make myself available just for them.
Have Separate Expectations
This leads to my next tip for you: having separate expectations and boundaries for active clients vs everyone else. As I just mentioned, I give my current clients Voxer access to me. This is because I want to provide extra support for them while they’re working on their funnels without me increasing my set work hours. Most of the time, I can easily answer Voxers on the go so that they’re not getting held up in their own work and still feel supported by me. They also know that if they want more extensive help or a detailed review of an email or sales page or something, I’ll get to that on my two work days. I usually also over-communicate when I’m answering a Voxer to acknowledge that I have a set time to review that on This date.
No matter what the support looks like that you provide your clients, I do recommend setting clear expectations with them about how quickly you respond and how to contact you. My clients know that if they email me a question, I likely won’t see it outside of those two work days and that voxer is exclusive, quicker access to me. So think about if you want to provide a different level of support or a quicker response time for your active clients and how you can build that into your boundaries.
Boundaries for Service-Based Businesses
Now for some of you that are service-based businesses, you may not want to only check your email twice a week because you feel like you’ll miss out on inquiries and thus miss out on bookings.
Good news – there are awesome tools like Honeybook to help you solve that problem.
Honeybook is the CRM system I use to book clients, and I have certain notifications set up on my phone for inquiries. I also have templates created for my response to those inquiries, so I can get back to them quickly and easily without sacrificing my work boundaries.
I could do a whole episode on the importance of a CRM, especially in how your response time to inquiries matters, but let’s just say that you can still create systems and templates to get back to inquiries in a timely manner without having to be on your computer or phone all day every day.
Find a good CRM, put automations and templates in place, and be strategic in how you use those with notifications to make sure you’re on top of inquiries in a timely manner. And if you want to give Honeybook a try yourself, you can use my affiliate link at jordanjones.co/honeybook to lock in a free trial and a super-discounted price.
My Biggest (+ most controversial) Tip
Okay, so speaking of notifications for inquiries… I have a kind of controversial opinion here.
I’m a big fan of turning notifications off.
Again, I mentioned before being selective about this. If you have a type of business that needs to respond quickly, then allow ONLY those inquiry notifications from Honeybook. Or use a “focus” feature on your phone to allow notifications during work hours.
But I’d argue and challenge you to turn off ALL of your phone notifications.
They’re a distraction and a time suck and will drag you into living constantly in the urgent part of your business, instead of focusing on what’s important.
If you need help with this, I highly recommend checking out Jordan Raynor’s book Redeeming Your Time. I’ve mentioned Jordan before in the first episode of this podcast on what it means to view our work as worship because his book Called to Create had a huge impact on me as a Christian entrepreneur. This other book I’m recommending, Redeeming Your Time, I also LOVED – and for totally different reasons. It’s a really practical look into how we can redeem our time as Christian entrepreneurs and how we can set better boundaries, especially around the tech in our lives. It was super challenging and encouraging to me, and I’d definitely check that out for some detailed tips on how to do that in your own business and life. I’ll link that up in the show notes for you.
In the meantime, start turning your notifications off – especially your email notifications. Or better yet, just delete the app from your phone or move it to a different screen. You do NOT need to be seeing your new emails pop up every time they come up. It’ll just give you more anxiety and open a loop in your mind to think about responding to that, which isn’t going to help you stick to your own set work schedule and boundaries.
A Life Boundary Suggestion
I’d also recommend NOT keeping your phone in your bedroom. Put the charger in your kitchen or your bathroom and buy a good old-fashioned night light so that you aren’t tempted to pick that phone up and scroll or check in on work first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
I have a bunch of tiny children who like to wake me up if I magically sleep past 630, but on the days that I still set alarms, I love using a natural light alarm clock for this. Essentially it mimics a sunrise and gets brighter and brighter before your alarm actually goes off.
There is no excuse to keep your phone next to you while you sleep.
This boundary isn’t necessarily just for work, but I promise you it’ll be SO good for you. Phone boundaries are a big struggle for so many of us, not just in our work but with social media, texting, everything. In the same way that we can become slaves to our businesses, we can become slaves to our phones. So a big part of setting boundaries means using your phone wisely too, instead of letting your phone control you.
Why We Practice Sabbath
One thing we personally did to implement a strict boundary around this was to start practicing Sabbath.
We’ve changed the day that we’ve observed Sabbath – right now that’s Friday night to Saturday night for us. I love that it honors the original Jewish Sabbath, especially with my Jewish background (listen to the episode that explains that here), but it is just a really sweet time for us to log off all of our work and social media and just spend time together as a family and with God.
Honestly, I’ll probably do an entire episode on why Sabbath is important and how it’s changed our lives and businesses, but suffice it to say – it’s super important and will go leaps and bounds in helping you set work boundaries while honoring and glorifying God in both your life and business.
For us, this means that our work boundaries are even more strict during that time – as in, there’s no work. Not even Voxer for my clients. But they know that – and fully expect and respect that time of rest for us.
This again brings us back to one of the most important parts of setting boundaries – and that’s communicating them.
Boundaries = Respect
No matter what your schedule and boundaries look like, I encourage you to be as clear and forward in communicating them as possible. This was something I was honestly a little scared to do at first in our business. I felt like my clients wouldn’t like it or they’d think we were lazy somehow. Like if they saw that I was skiing on a Tuesday morning instead of working on their project, wouldn’t they be mad? Turns out, the opposite was true. Because we were so clear in communicating our expectations and boundaries, they respected our decisions and time boundaries. You just have to make sure to stick to those boundaries and still serve your people really well.
Again, in the same way that a budget gives you the freedom to make your money work for you and your goals, your work boundaries are going to give you the freedom to steward your time well in a way that both grows your business and serves your clients well without sacrificing the things that matter most in your own life.
Which if you’re listening to this podcast, I’m going to guess that’s what you’re all about to.
Doing great work that you love without sacrificing the ones you love and the things you love most.
And my hope and prayer for this episode is that it encourages you to change how you view setting boundaries in your business and that you’ll take the first step in putting them into place for yourself.
If you do, I’d love to hear about it! Would you shoot me a DM on instagram at @jordanjones.co and let me know which part resonated with you the most, and which tip you’re going to implement this week?
I’d love to encourage you & cheer you on. And if you have any other tips that have helped you, I’d love to connect and hear those too!
As always, thank you so much for tuning in to today’s episode, and I’ll see you next time on the Work & Worship podcast.