A colleague of mine recently confessed something that truly shocked me. She is a hardworking professional, someone I respect and admire, someone who exudes competence, authority, and wisdom – yet she told me this unbelievable story:
She had just agreed to work with a new client, and to begin their partnership she was to attend a training to familiarize herself with the client’s policies and procedures. The meeting took over three hours, and at the end of it, she examined the contractor’s agreement that the client had drawn up. In it, the terms of payment were outlined clearly, but nowhere was there any indication that this training session was to be paid. The client expected to not pay her for the training, and to never let her know upfront. Stunned and speechless, she signed the document, and that was that. She said nothing to change that expectation.
Does this sort of thing ever happen to you? Do you find yourself allowing others to eat up your time in ways that don’t feel right to you?
I am all about generosity with my time and energy, and there are also ways that, if I’m not careful, I can easily cross the line into wasting time or giving it away.
So, how can you better honor and respect your time, and hold it as sacred and valuable? The key here is to address it head on. When you establish rules & boundaries for your time, it helps you – and those around you – respect it more.
Here are a few ideas to think about:
Protecting Your Time with Clients:
If your work schedule or ways you’re moving through your schedule aren’t working for you, it’s important to communicate that to your clients and the people in your community. This can make even the most confident of us quail a bit, but take heart: I have never lost a single client due to changing my schedule. The key is to let clients know that your schedule will be changing with integrity and in a way that’s aligned with your energy. The new schedule will benefit both you and your client because with a schedule that TRULY works for you, you’ll have even more energy to serve them.
Let your clients know that your schedule is changing by sending an email that says something like this:
“Dear X, I’m excited to let you know that as of October 1, my hours are changing. My new hours are [insert new client hours here]. This schedule will allow me to focus even more fully on you, and serve you in even stronger ways than I have in the past. If you have any questions at all on this, please don’t hesitate to contact me.” This is a simple, fuss-free way to create new boundaries with clients.
Protecting Your Time with Clients in Session-Based Appointments:
With session-based appointments, it is easy to run overtime, and if it happens once, it tends to continue over and over. It’s easy to get annoyed at clients for this or to get frustrated, but the truth is that it’s on YOU to end your sessions at the appropriate time.
Here are some tips:
- Five minutes before the end of the session, directly tell the client that the session is ending and it’s time to wrap up
- Lead them to this with some wrap-up questions or instructions
- If the issue persists: Send clients an email letting them know that while you’ve been giving extra session time until now, that starting immediately, you’ll be honoring your session time. Let them know that this will help you serve more effectively, and will help you act as a model for them.
Protecting Your Time with Team Members:
I hear from many folks that there are sometimes team members who haven’t been taking on responsibility, or are doing something the wrong way over and over, and those mistakes are costing time & money. If you have trouble setting boundaries, you might feel awkward, uncomfortable, or guilty about rocking the boat and letting that person know they have to take responsibility. But in your heart, you know that saying nothing will never solve it. The process here has a few steps.
- Get clear on what the team member hasn’t been doing or has been doing incorrectly – both for yourself and for the team member. I highly suggest doing this in person or over the phone – NOT over email. Ask questions with curiosity so you can best understand why your team member is having trouble and so that you can also together find ways to solve it.
- Let them know the consequences or repercussions of this: for example, “Every time you make a mistake with scheduling, it costs me time and my clients are not happy” or “When I need to go back and correct mistakes that were made, it takes away time from projects I am responsible for.” It is important that your team members understand exactly how their mistakes are affecting you, your clients, and your business.
- Ask what support they need so they can do it correctly and in the right time, and give them a clear timeframe by which the issue needs to be resolved.
- If the problem is a recurring issue then it may be time to acknowledge that the job is not a good fit for that person, and you need to let him or her go.
These are just a few examples of setting boundaries to honor your time. When you set boundaries in these ways, you create a paradigm that fosters your ability to work more efficiently, and value each moment.