How to Set Healthy Work Boundaries: 4 Tips for New Freelancers

Setting work-life boundaries isn’t selfish – it’s actually essential to your success as a freelancer.


You started your freelance career to experience more freedom. But maybe you’re so focused on your success that you feel like you have no work boundaries. 

Been there. 🤦‍♀️

It’s easy to accidentally slip into the belief that you need to always be “on.” Especially if you came from a traditional 9-5 role.

But setting healthy work boundaries actually fuels your motivation, consistency, and passion. All this leads to bigger results and happiness as a freelancer. 

Are you ready to ditch the stress and create work-life boundaries that actually benefit your freelance career? Here’s how.

How to Know It’s Time to Set Work Boundaries

Has something like this ever happened to you? You’re about to go to a dinner with your girlfriends – one you’ve been looking forward to all week.

But as you head into the restaurant, your phone pings with an email from one of your freelance clients. You feel a pit in your stomach as you open and read the note.

Throughout dinner, the email is in the back of your mind. You’re anxiously waiting to get home and answer the client. But all the anxiety makes you not feel fully present with your friends.

Once you get home, you realize the email probably could’ve waited until the next day. And now you’re bummed because you were totally distracted at your dinner.

Scenarios like these signal that it’s time for you to create work boundaries.

It’s not always bad to work on the weekends or late nights sometimes if you’re enjoying the process. But identifying the areas where you need boundaries comes back to your energy.

Are you feeling excited and energized doing extra work? Or are you working from a place of burnout and anxiety?

Here are the emotional signs that it’s time to create work boundaries:

  • Resentment.

    You’re starting to resent one of your projects or freelance clients. Maybe just seeing an email from them gets you frustrated.

    Resentment could be a sign that you’re not happy with the rates you set, or the client is overstepping a work boundary. Deep down, you could even be frustrated with yourself for being in the situation.

  • Anxiety.

    Does the sound of a new email bring you total dread? Are you always worried you’re not doing enough for your clients?

    Feelings of anxiety are usually signs it’s time to get curious about your mindset regarding work-life boundaries. It’s time to give yourself permission to be in control of your workload and what stresses you out.

  • Unmotivated.

    Has the stress led you to no longer feel excited about your work? I won’t pretend your freelance career will always be rainbows and butterflies. There are times that you work harder or feel more stress.

    But the days you’re excited and energized about your work should absolutely outweigh the times you’re not feeling it.

If you’re feeling any of these ways, you’re not alone. It’s common for new freelancers to go through a time where they feel like they’re slipping back into a 9-5 role.

But this frustration phase can lead to a breakthrough where you finally set work boundaries and create a career you love on your own terms.

4 Practical Ways to Set Work Boundaries

It may seem like always being “on” is the key to success. That you need to hustle harder, work more, and always focus on your work. 

But overworking only leads to burnout and overwhelm. When you’re properly recharged, you’re more likely to be open to opportunities and solutions – and doing your best work.

How do you make sure you’re protecting your energy and properly recharging? By setting these four work-life boundaries:

  1. Set your working hours – and stick to them.

    Did you leave your 9-5 only to start working 8-8? As a freelancer, you get to set the hours you work. But it’s up to you to stick to them!

    I work best in the morning – so I get most of my work done between 8 am – 2 pm. Of course, there are busier seasons when I work more. But I promised myself a while ago that I’d stop working 40+ hours a week.

    Having trouble putting your work down? Hold yourself accountable by scheduling something at the end of your work day. Remember, our work expands to the amount of time we give it – so work smarter, not harder.

  1. Manage your client’s expectations.

    The most effective way to set work boundaries is to set client expectations upfront. Let clients know when you’re available and what your response time is. I always tell my clients that I will get back to them in 24 business hours.

    If you tell your client your working hours are between 9-4 pm, don’t respond outside those hours. If you do, you could set the expectation that you’re always available.1

    As freelancers, we tend to get frustrated with our clients for overstepping. But more times than not, we haven’t properly introduced the work boundary. Once you do, your client will likely have no problem respecting your boundary.

  1. Protect your headspace.

    These days, notifications and technology are trying to get your attention all day long. Between emails, social media, and apps – your phone is always pulling you out of the present moment.

    One of my top work-life boundaries is to protect my headspace, flow, and working momentum. Silencing your notifications is crucial to stay focused, in the zone, and present during your time off.

    Yes, that includes turning off your email notifications. I recommend removing your email app from your phone so you only check your work emails during designated times.

  1. View yourself as an equal to your clients.

    Are you having a hard time setting work boundaries? This could be a sign that you’re viewing yourself as an employee to your clients instead of an equal. 

    Practice viewing yourself and your clients as equal peers. Your work brings massive value to the table. Your client benefits from working with you just as much as you benefit from working with them!

    When you see yourself as an equal, it becomes easier to prioritize your own needs and career.

Creating and sticking to work boundaries takes practice. You may even feel resistance and fear at first, which is normal. But remember this…

Work boundaries enable you to be more energized, focused, and excited about your work. In turn, you create even better client experiences and client results. 

So, setting your own work boundaries ultimately benefits your clients. This mindset shift can help you give yourself permission to create boundaries.

Developing the Mindset to Set Work Boundaries

If you’re having trouble sticking to a work boundary, you could have a limiting belief holding you back. Maybe deep down, you’re worried you could lose the client and wouldn’t be able to replace them. 

The solution is to develop the mindset that there is an abundance of client opportunities. And if a client *did* decide not to work with you, you’d simply find one that’s more aligned with your values!

I use this example to show how our deep, subconscious beliefs can hold us back. But it’s not always easy to identify – and change – these limiting beliefs on our own.

That’s why I’d love to introduce you to Master Your Mindset.

Master Your Mindset is an incredible course and community that helps you become intentional about your mindset and life.

Are you ready to finally allow yourself to run your career and life on your own terms? Find out more about Master Your Mindset here.

Want to Watch Instead?

View my Youtube video on how to create healthy work boundaries. Subscribe here for more tips on building an intentional, mindful freelance career. 🙌

Resources:

  1. Ted.Com

About Sarah

I’m an entrepreneur on a mission to help other people become entrepreneurs.
My blog is a place where I provide business building advice and explore how we can create more meaningful work.

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