Updated November 7, 2023
Which holds more value: Your time or your money?
I look at it like this: Value your time, and the money will follow!
Nothing is more disheartening than working a ten-hour day and having nothing but frustration and exhaustion as the outcome.
Your time is precious. Protect it fiercely by establishing clear boundaries.
Implement systems that safeguard your time and uphold your limits. If individuals refuse to respect these systems, they forfeit access to your time—plain and simple.
Here are 5 systems I’ve implemented to protect my time daily:
📥 Managing inboxes
My email inbox is one of my biggest pain points. Watching the number of unread messages climb as I tackled other tasks drew me in like a decadent peach cobbler hot out of the oven.
To combat this distraction, I’ve established a folding system for incoming emails. Examples include categories like:
- Emails to answer this week
- Emails to answer the next day
This approach helps me resist the urge to respond immediately.
Additionally, I hired an executive assistant to manage my inbox. Having someone else screen and categorize my emails has significantly lightened my load and ensured I effectively used my time.
📆 Utilizing Scheduling Software
When I started taking on clients, I managed client scheduling manually through emails, often allowing expectations that disrupted my set process. I allowed people to skip steps I had set up for myself because I didn’t want to inconvenience them. But to honor my time, I needed to be firm with my scheduling process.
I use Dubsado for scheduling, although numerous alternatives exist. When a potential client emails or DMs me they want to talk, I pass on my Dubsado link (you can see it here).
Those serious about my time will complete the form and schedule, while others can reach out when they’re ready—respecting both their pace and my process.
Sticking to a scheduling system and process eliminates the back-and-forth emailing when manually finding a time that works. It allows you to set aside time to sort out client issues efficiently and with ease.
Interested in trying out Dubsado? Click this link and get 20% off your first month or year (please note, this is an affiliate link).
⏰ Honoring Work Hours
My work hours are set from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. During that time, I place a low priority on responding to personal messages. My friends know that messages sent during work hours might not receive an immediate response.
The same is true with my client communications. Inevitably my clients will email me outside of work hours. I stay true to my boundaries. My clients understand my hours and response times.
If you set, apply, and honor your boundaries consistently, your clients will do the same for you.
📲 Using Different Business Lines
Do your clients know how to communicate with you?
If not, make sure to include this language in your onboarding process. Set the stage early so you are on the right track for a low-stress working relationship.
My clients know that emails are my preferred way of communication, but I have a few who prefer to talk it out. I have a business phone number different from my phone number.
This is extremely helpful for my clients who prefer to call rather than email. I encourage leaving voicemails and assume no action is needed on my end if they don’t leave a message.
🏃🏽♀️ Responding to Tardy Clients
In the era of virtual meetings, the chance of being late has greatly increased.
It’s amazing how that works: the shorter the time to arrive at a destination, the higher the chances of being late. That’s the story of my life, but I digress…
My rule is simple: if a client doesn’t show up within 10 minutes of the scheduled meeting, I proceed with my day.
Re-engaging is on the client, not me. They can reschedule if they wish, but I won’t wait more than 10 minutes—considering it’s a virtual meeting. I value others’ time and expect the same respect in return.
So, what does protecting your time look like in real life?
Here’s a story to help you better understand…
Recently I had a client who needed help with bookkeeping for legal matters. This client had become a trusted friend, and I was eager to assist.
Initially, I provided the necessary help according to their instructions. However, the back-and-forth stretched for months, exceeding our agreed-upon time and budget.
I was now working at a loss.
It finally reached a point where I felt my work would never satisfy them.
Despite the client being a friend, I had to prioritize my time, energy, and finances.
It was DIFFICULT to find a way to terminate the business relationship.
Sending that “this will be the end of our engagement” email was so hard. I even had my EA help me write it! And it took the whole day to finally press “send”.
After sending it, there was no response. It reinforced my belief that they were taking advantage of my time and goodwill. It affirmed that ending the relationship was the right choice.
The point here is YOU ARE VALUABLE, AND YOUR TIME COMES WITH A PRICE TAG.
Your best clients will understand that and work within your boundaries.
Your best clients will recognize this and respect your boundaries. Aim for a win-win relationship with every client.
If the thought of a client induces anxiety, reconsider the relationship. Your time and peace of mind are invaluable.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational and conversational purposes only. Emails, blog posts and social content from Obih Collective Inc. are not legal tax advice. Please consult a tax professional before making any tax decisions based on this information. Links included in blog might be affiliate links. I may receive a small commission if you purchase a product or service by clicking on a link I provide. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my work.