Self-Care: Setting rules for your business

Self Care: Setting rules for your business

I was just about to come here and write a post about how I’m all sick and hopped up on cold meds and can’t focus enough to write a blog post. And then I open my calendar and what do I find? A half-written post about self care when you run your own business. What a perfect topic for today!

When you are a freelancer, and especially a creative, it’s important to set rules and boundaries for yourself and your business to keep your sanity and continue to love your job every day. Ignoring the rules and saying yes to everything may earn you a one-way ticket to burnout city, which is the last place you want to be when it’s your responsibility to pay the bills.

So, here are a few of my rules for keeping myself and my business going strong…

1. I set strict boundaries for the days I do not work or have meetings. For me, that’s Sunday and Monday since I teach aerial classes on Saturday. I may work, but I will not work for anyone else.

2. I don’t answer emails or requests at night. (hint: turn off email notifications so they only come in when you want them to) I don’t stop working at the same time every day, but generally if an email comes in after 6pm I won’t be attending to it until the next day. Patience is a virtue.

3. I schedule everything. Interruptions and requests come in all day long. I rarely stop what I’m doing to answer an email or meet up with someone. (Unless you want to meet up for ice cream, then I’m definitely available) Everything goes into my schedule. You want to meet with me – I’m available on Thursday afternoon. This is not me being difficult or inflexible, it’s me understanding the amount of work I take on and knowing the best way to handle everything.

4. I don’t say yes to everything. I’m all for saying yes and trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone, but sometimes a request comes in and my gut just says, “Nope.” And so I say nope too…nicely. You can always turn down projects by saying, “I don’t think this is the right project for me. You might find another designer at ________.”

5. And lastly, like today when I’m totally sick, I clear out my schedule, ignore everything, and take care of myself. I do a couple little things here and there because I love it and I can’t help myself. But I take sick days as a damn good reason to have some time off and not feel guilty for ignoring my email.

What rules do you have to maintain your business and yourself?


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  1. says

    It’s taken me awhile to set up boundaries, but boy does it feel good knowing that I’m off the clock. Before I set up boundaries, the weekends didn’t feel like anything special, but now I look forward to them since I know I can take a break from client work!

    Feel better!

  2. says

    Oh this is such a timely post for me. I think boundaries are important whether you are running your own business or working for someone else. I have been struggling with illness this winter and have not allowed my self any downtime to get better. I was too worried about letting work pile up or missing deadlines. Having the flu hit on a snowy commute home, while already fighting bronchitis was what it finally took to realize I need figure out these boundaries and get some self-care schedule in pronto!

    Getting sick is the pits. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  3. says

    I really need to get better at time management. So much of this would help me a lot, especially with my anxiety. It just feels like such a slow process for me because there is so much that I need to get through, from my messed-up sleep schedule to my motivation problems to not knowing whether one day will be so slow that I’ll be paralyzed by anxiety about money. :(

  4. says

    Great tips! Setting boundaries is something I’m working on but haven’t completely figured out yet. I often feel anxious because I have so much to do, so many ideas, and so much growth that I almost can’t keep up with it. This makes it hard to take a break, but I know I need to.

    • sarah says

      Making a plan and setting daily/weekly/monthly/and yearly goals will be a giant stress reliever. Anything that doesn’t move you toward those goals isn’t a priority. And once your goals are done for the day, you get to be done too :)

  5. says

    These are such good tips – I especially struggle with ditching the email and stepping away at a certain point of the day AND choosing days that I WILL NOT blog.

    • sarah says

      I’ve found turning off email notifications to be really helpful. I open my email three times a day, take about 20-30 minutes to answer as many items as possible, and then close email until next time.

  6. says

    I have a hard time creating boundaries maybe because I just started my business. After reading your blog I understand why I need to start creating a plan to put into place.


  7. says

    This are great tips! The hardest thing for me is setting specific times to meet up with people. I want to see them, so my first instinct is to go with whatever works soonest, not what works best with my work schedule.

  8. says

    Love this! My favorite thing about being self-employed right now is being able to take care of myself. I worked a lot through illnesses before and my body suffered a lot. Now I have to recover every now and again but I’ve been feeling a lot better. Great post as always Sarah!

  9. says

    It’s so hard setting boundaries but I’ve been doing it lately to save my sanity. I don’t get any updates on my phone for emails or etsy messages, and I’ve had people get mad that I didn’t reply to them on a Sunday but I just need days to myself, ya know?! haha

    • sarah says

      I have had that happen too! Like multiple emails saying ‘pleeeease respond to me!!!!’ I’m like…it’s SUNDAY, have a little patience. Blogging is never an emergency haha

  10. says

    I have such a hard time following through not answering emails on the weekends and after 7pm weekdays. It took me getting sick this weekend to actually stick to my guns. I was a medicate mess, no one should read that. From here on out 2 hours on the weekends for support tickets and everything is a no go.

    Feel better soon.

  11. says

    Boundaries are everything!! I set up daily “off-hours” and try to limit social media time. I could seriously spend all day on Twitter!