Setting boundaries with clients is vital to creating the separation between an employee/employer relationship and instead create a client/service provider relationship. When you work with clients you want to make sure you establish boundaries early on in the relationship so your client goes in knowing what to expect from you in terms of communication and workflow.
Here are my top five tips for some ways I set boundaries with clients:
Boomerang inbox pause
I only check my email 3 times per day to focus on client work and giving them my full attention. Inbox pause has been huge for me to stay more focused on what I’m trying to accomplish without a notification dinging on my phone. Inbox Pause stops new emails from coming into your inbox until you’re ready for it. It’s actually proven that only checking your inbox a few times a day reduces stress and boosts productivity.
Schedule my emails
If I am working late at night I will schedule my emails to go out the next morning so clients don’t get used to me responding late at night and expect an immediate response. I also will do the same thing if I’m working on the weekends. When I’m working on the weekend, I will always schedule my emails to go out on Monday morning. It’s also good for my clients too so they can enjoy their time away from work to enjoy their life without interruptions.
Intentionally not reply (right away)
This one is super tough for me and sometimes I break my own rule but I intentionally will not reply to clients at certain times because I don’t want to set incorrect expectations with turnaround time. As an online service provider, we all know there are times where you’re completely swamped and times where things are a bit slower than usual. If I’m having a period where things are a bit slower and I can get to things faster, I’m sure to keep those boundaries to ensure my client’s expectations haven’t changed because things will always get busy again.
Always send a client welcome packet
This one is one of my favorite ways to send boundaries right from the start. Write out your boundaries in a welcome packet. Your welcome packet should include your preferred method of communication (Slack, Voxer, FB messenger, email, etc.) and your office hours so clients know how you want to communicate and when you’ll be available for them. If you do find yourself working outside your office hours, be sure to schedule your emails so they’re in your next working day office hours like we discussed above!
Decide your time off first
It’s so important to make sure you’re scheduling your personal schedule first - vacation, appointments, half-day or full-day meetings, etc. before you block time for your clients. It’s important because you can let them know way ahead of time if they can expect things to take X amount of days longer or you will have limited communication with them during X week. If you’re unsure how to time block for your clients, I have a blog post you can read here.
The more you communicate with your clients honestly and openly, while maintaining your boundaries, will create a better experience all around for both of you.
Rooting for you,