Working as a freelancer brings lots of freedom. We set our own schedules, work in a career we love, make great money, and are valued for our work. Sounds perfect, right?
Well, with so much freedom, things can get a little…let’s say, gray. Unlike working in a typical, 9-5 office environment, freelancers’ hours can vary, which means clients can encroach on your personal off time if you don’t set boundaries.
And work can be a bit more undefined. Unlike a traditional job description, you could get hired to work as a freelancer with a client who piles on LOTS more responsibilities that you didn’t anticipate (which is called “project creep” or “scope creep”). You should always be on the lookout for when a client adds extra tasks to an already planned project. (As an aside, ensure you have your deliverables well documented from the start!)
So, how do you know when to say enough is enough?
Between setting realistic working hours and deliverable expectations, how do freelancers set boundaries with clients?
Changing Your Mindset
Working late into the night, taking our computer with us on vacation, answering emails on the weekends—these are all options as freelancers, but they’re not mandatory. However, sometimes we feel like these are mandatory tasks. (“If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid!”) We think we need to get something done and so we sacrifice our free time because we didn’t set boundaries—with ourselves and ourselves.
If setting—and enforcing—boundaries is perpetually on your to-do list but you never actually cross it off, then this book pick is a must. Bonus: It’s more of a workbook than a book with actionable exercises designed to help you implement boundaries in your personal and professional life.
As The Set Boundaries Workbook: Practical Exercises for Understanding Your Needs and Setting Healthy Limits by Nedra Glover Tawwab says, “Boundaries are ways to communicate our needs to others via words and action. They are also perimeters that we establish with ourselves and others. Therefore, boundaries aren’t just about telling other people what to do but are also about holding yourself accountable for creating your life.”
We added the emphasis since we often look to our clients and blame them for not respecting our boundaries. But too often it’s that we don’t hold ourselves accountable and we think saying “no” is the only way to set boundaries (spoiler: it’s not).
The workbook opens with an exercise where you can explore what boundaries mean to you. It includes a checklist to help you determine what areas you’re neglecting due to unhealthy boundaries.
We can’t do it all—and we shouldn’t try!
With this foundation in place, the workbook will help you:
- Set limits and expectations—with yourself and with others.
- Practice moving through the discomfort (and, frankly, guilt!) that comes with enforcing boundaries.
- Communicate your boundaries.
- Continue advocating for your boundaries in your personal and professional relationships.
Once you’ve tackled the writing prompts, checklists, and more, it’s time to practice setting and maintaining boundaries in the real world. We’ll be cheering you on (and Freelance Success Framework students can always reach out to set up a live Coaching Call!).
What are your best tips for setting (and maintaining) boundaries? Share your experience in the comments below!
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