We all know that setting boundaries, eating healthy, exercising, and meditating can improve our overall well-being. But putting all of those things into practice, especially as a busy creator, is easier said than done. Recent data shows that despite all the knowledge we possess on how to improve our lives, Americans struggle to put those habits into practice.
Content creators are uniquely at risk for poor mental health and declining life satisfaction, due to working long hours, managing multiple tasks, and a lack of boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
The good news, though, is that a healthy and happy mind is within your reach. Let’s talk about why boundaries for creators should be a priority, and how to take the idea of boundaries and apply it to your life to help protect your mental health and overall well-being.
How to set boundaries with family, friends, and partners
When you work for yourself, have a flexible schedule, or work from home, your family and friends might feel like you’re available to them at all hours of the day. This can seriously affect your work quality and even your mental health.
So learning how to set boundaries with family, friends, and partners is crucial. Here’s how to do it:
Put your phone on silent mode during working hours
Having your phone set to silent or “Do Not Disturb” mode during the day might help you avoid constant communication with people. It’s can be difficult to ignore our devices when a parent calls or a friend sends a funny TikTok. One of the best ways to prevent this is to turn off those notifications while you’re working. If you’re looking for a stronger boundary, you can even try leaving your phone in another room while you work. Both approaches will help limit distractions and help you use your phone more intentionally when you do use it.
If you’re uncomfortable with potentially missing a family emergency or another important call, decide a frequency with which you’ll check your phone. Give yourself five minutes each hour or two to check in and make sure all is well. This is a great compromise that allows you to maintain your boundaries, while still being able to be there for your loved ones if you’re needed for whatever reason.
Explain your work
Another scenario that can benefit from some boundary setting is when family or friends just don’t understand what it is you do for work. They might feel that they can stop by for tea or coffee in the middle of the day because you work from home. Or they might see that you’re posting on your social media channels but not responding to their message and wonder why.
Having open and clear communication about your work and what you do as a creator can help set this boundary. Your family, friends, and partners should respect your work, even if it’s outside the traditional definition of work. Give them as much information as possible to make it clear that what you do is important to you. You can also ask them to respect your boundaries and not assume that you’re always available.
How to set boundaries with your students, clients, and audience
In addition to setting boundaries with the important people in your personal life, you also need to set them with your clients, students, and audience. With social media and email, it’s easy to stay connected even during off hours. But constant connection can have a serious impact on your life quality and happiness.
So, here’s how to set boundaries with your students, clients, and audience:
Set clear working hours
Everyone needs a break sometimes, even creators. Decide what hours during the week are your “working hours” and inform your students and/or clients. Let them know that these are the only hours when they can reach you and expect an answer.
That’s the easy part! The harder part is to keep to those “working hours” and resist the temptation to answer comments, DMs, emails, and text messages outside of them.
To help you do that, the best thing you can do is delete any tempting work-related apps from your phone. You might also want to separate your work and personal email so that you can still deal with personal errands.
Avoid having work apps like Slack, Discord, or whatever else on your personal phone or even personal computer. The technological separation will make it easier for you to avoid checking communication channels after “office hours.”
Turn off notifications
A great place to start setting boundaries with your audience is to turn off your notifications for social media apps. The dopamine hit we get every time there is a notification is what makes social media so addictive, but it can also be a great source of anxiety.
So turning off notifications will allow you to be in control over your social media consumption. And it can help you decide when you want to check your comments and DMs with intention.
How to set boundaries with yourself
The last place to set boundaries—and maybe the most difficult one—is with yourself. Setting boundaries with yourself is equally as important as setting boundaries with your family and audience. But it is often the one place where boundaries are neglected.
Here are key things that will help you have healthier boundaries with yourself when it comes to your personal and professional work:
Learn to manage your time
Learning time management skills can have a huge positive impact on your mental health. Time management is all about learning how to do work efficiently so you can set your working hours and have better boundaries with your work.
By learning to work efficiently you’ll be able to have a better separation between work and personal life, which will greatly improve your overall mood and life satisfaction. Having this boundary in place will also help prevent burnout. So, it’s important to find a time management strategy that works for you.
You might implement Pomodoro Technique, or try the Getting Things Done method to sort your life and tasks and help you manage them efficiently.
British entrepreneur and author of Working Hard, Hardly Working, Grace Beverly uses a time management technique where she breaks down her to-do list into three categories:
- Quick ticks: tasks that will take less than 5 to 10 minutes to accomplish
- For example: answering friend group messages
- Tasks: tasks that are more complex and will require around 30 minutes to accomplish,
- For example: outlining a lecture
- Projects: tasks that are bigger and usually consist of more than one task so they need to be broken down,
- For example: launching a digital product
Remember, doing your work in the time you give yourself and sticking to your schedule is respecting your boundaries in action. So, be diligent with your time and find the best time management solution that works for you.
This packet has note-taking templates, productivity methods, and more all to help you better manage your time.
Schedule time off
If you only take time off when you’ve finished your to-do list you might never take time off. For most content creators and business owners, the to-do list is never-ending.
One of the best parts of being a creator is that you work for yourself and can set your own schedule which allows you to work whenever you want. For some people, that might mean working weekends or evenings. When your work schedule is so flexible, it can be very easy to neglect time for rest.
Be mindful of when you need to rest. Schedule time off into your calendar and choose what works best for you. If you prefer to work on the weekends, find other days during the week to recharge. If you find it useful, you can track your non-work activities with a habit tracker.
And don’t forget vacations! While it might be harder to take longer time off when you work for yourself, factor in those few weeks a year to really unplug.
Keep your promises
We tend to value promises we make to other people much more than we value the promises we make to ourselves. However, a promise you make to yourself is just as important as a promise you make to a friend, client, or partner. So treat them as such.
If you promised yourself that you’ll take weekends off, or that you’ll have a social-media-free day, keep those promises.
Evaluate your projects carefully
It’s very easy to say “yes” to every single new project, client, or exciting business idea. It’s only natural that you don’t want to miss out on opportunities. However, saying “yes” to everything that comes your way is one of the easiest ways to let your boundaries slip.
Before agreeing to a new project or an opportunity to do something, take the time to truly think about it and evaluate if it’s worth your energy, time, and effort. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does this project or opportunity bring value to my life?
- Will this project or opportunity consume more of my attention and effort than I can afford right now?
- How will this project or opportunity improve or grow my business?
- How will my business be affected if I pass on this project or opportunity?
- Do I have the time for this project or opportunity or will I have to work overtime?
Carefully evaluating each new project you take on is one of the most effective strategies to implement when you’re learning how to set boundaries for your business. You’ll be much happier if you only take on projects you’re truly passionate about, and being selective will give you more time to work on projects that you love the most.
The importance of boundaries for creators
Whether you’re a part-time or full-time creator you’ll find that setting boundaries can greatly improve your experience. It might feel uncomfortable at first but soon you’ll be managing your time better, taking intentional breaks, and interacting with your students and audience in a reliable way.