Do you find it really hard to step away from work at the end of the day? It might be responding to a client’s email after hours, making that last content adjustment, or checking a quick slack channel message. Whether you realize it or not, you might be letting others, or even worse, yourself, cross boundaries. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, it’s hard to turn it all off. Our work bleeds into our life and our life bleeds into our work. Because of that we need a little help from some of our favorite boundary apps.
But first, let’s understand what a healthy boundary is. Having a boundary in place means you’ve drawn a line in the sand on the type of behaviors and actions of others you are and aren’t comfortable with. Boundaries help you navigate relationships with friends, colleagues, customers and clients. It’s important to be open with your clients and customers about your boundaries because it helps them know what they can expect from you. Remember, sometimes it isn’t clients crossing your boundaries. It could be you!
As full-time business owners, we understand that it’s difficult to log out of your email and put down the phone. Having a healthy work-life balance is essential for strong interpersonal relationships, and boundaries are a way for you to keep that balance. We love the countless business tools and apps out there, so we searched for something that makes enforcing boundaries a little bit easier. Here are our six favorite business apps you can use to stay within your boundaries and make that work-life balance more attainable.
First, let’s dig into some important boundaries you need in place. Because although these boundary apps will help, you need to first lay the foundation.
Why Boundaries Are Important
Boundaries can mean a lot of different things to different people. In personal relationships, we define boundaries as behaviors or actions that affirm a mutually respectful relationship. In our business, we have boundaries for the simple purpose of work-life separation.
Setting boundaries in a work environment is super important because it’s foundational for having a respectful working relationship with a client. Without baseline respect and understanding, the relationship leaves you feeling drained and unfulfilled. Every relationship in your life should add to it in some way. Not take away from it!
One of our favorite books right now is Take Back Your Time by Christy Wright. Especially if you struggle with aligning your priorities and setting boundaries. If you are a total book nerd like Abbey, then check out some of our favorite must-read business books.
Boundaries with Clients
Boundaries don’t have to be complicated. For example, in order to safeguard your time, you might have set working hours. Maybe you have a set number of clients you work with each month or orders you can / will fulfill. Setting boundaries is what will allow you to say no with confidence.
Some boundaries are in place for mutual respect and understanding. For example, informing clients ahead of time that you have some days off. This allows you to check out in peace and your client knows what they can expect from you. Knowing your boundaries and enforcing them with clients can be a really hard thing to do. No one likes to say no! But setting and enforcing boundaries isn’t a bad thing. It can save your sanity, make you more productive and a more enjoyable human overall! That’s the goal right!?
Boundaries with Yourself
Sadly, this is a boundary we seem to break the most often… those boundaries with ourselves. When your boundaries aren’t respected, it can feel a little disheartening. Have you ever reflected on how you feel when you cross your own boundaries?
It might be working outside your stated hours, neglecting to take care of yourself because you’re too busy, or you end up doing a project you’re not happy to be doing. We’re all guilty of crossing our own boundaries! Sometimes, the situation calls for it, and it can’t be avoided. But that should be the rarity, not the habit.
Crossing your own boundaries negatively impacts your life because there’s no longer any balance in what you’re doing. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your well-being to get work done! Boundaries are there to keep your life enjoyable and your work efficient. It’s okay to put yourself first and enforce your boundaries with others, even if it feels awkward to do. Enforcing and sticking to your boundaries is a form of self-care and respect.
Now that we’ve set the foundation, let’s dig into these boundary apps that can help you stick to the plan, say no when you need to and find a better balance for your life.
6 Apps to Enforce Boundaries
Slack is an excellent communication platform used by teams of all sizes. It’s super easy to engage with clients over texts, photos, videos, voice messages, and more. You can use it for group chats or one-on-one texting. We love Slack because it keeps our work and personal lives separate. Communication apps like Slack are helpful when you need to speak with clients, but you don’t want to give them your personal phone number.
You can also choose hours to receive notifications from Slack. We receive notifications during working hours, but anything after that won’t be seen until the next business day. We love Slack for enforcing our working hours and separating our work from our personal life.
2. Focus Booster
Are you struggling to set time aside to get tasks done? Focus Booster is an amazing multi-tool app for everything time-related. Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro Technique to help you get your tasks for the day done as efficiently as possible in the shortest amount of time. You’ll get frequent breaks, too!
Focus Booster tracks how much time you spend on a task and how you use your time. It uses this data to help you stay more productive throughout your work day. This boundary reinforces our values of getting work done, doing it well, and allowing our minds to rest. We love this app when the work day drags on and we need extra help focusing!
3. Boomerang for Gmail
If we had to pick a favorite from this list, it would probably be Boomerang for Gmail. Boomerang is a Gmail add-on. With Boomerang, you can schedule an email to be sent for later, remind you if you don’t hear back within a certain amount of time, and pause email notifications for an allotted period.
The pause function is magical! It allows us to get important work done without being distracted by our inboxes. Boomerang has a ton of other amazing and helpful features too, so we recommend this app for boundaries and productivity!
Have you ever had such a hectic day that it’s hard to slow down and think? We’ve been there, too. Calm is a meditation app with free and paid versions of meditations. You can do anything from one, five, or even hour-long sessions to calm down and refocus yourself. Calm is great when we’ve gotten a bit too stressed or ignored our stress signals. While we may not be able to drop a project, this app helps us refocus so we can get the job done.
This app is the cutest (and maybe the saddest, depending on how you use the app) on this list. Forest is an app that helps you unplug from your devices and focus. When you open the app, you input how long you want to be away from your device. The app will plant a tree on your screen. As your time counts down, your tree will grow! However, if you decide to break your focus or switch to a new app while you’re still in your focus time, your tree will die.
This app is great if you need a little motivation to stay focused. It’s also really satisfying to have a cute little tree at the end of your focus session! It’s like a reward. This app is an amazing tool for getting off our phones and focusing on ourselves.
Since day one of our business, Asana has been a huge savior to our sanity. We use this completely free tool to manage all of our projects. But the most important board we have is our “weekly priorities board”. This board is sacred for holding only those tasks and projects we have space for this week. Everything else goes on a back burner board. We still can’t believe this tool is free! Check this out if you want to learn more about how we organize our own Asana boards for our business.
Which Of The 6 Boundary Apps is Your Favorite?
Now what one will you incorporate into your business and overall lifestyle? Boundaries are a critical aspect of showing others (and yourself!) respect. Boundaries ensure your business is sustainable and that you can show up as your best self. When you stick with your boundaries and enforce them, you’ll have successful and meaningful relationships built on mutual trust and respect. Do you use any of these business apps for sticking to your boundaries? Did we miss any boundary apps you love? Let us know in the comments below!