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How to Fiercely Protect Your Time When You’re Self Employed

Does this sound familiar: “Hey, could you pick up that prescription for me? You’re not busy, right?”


If you’re self employed, you’ve probably heard a question like this a time or two. Sometimes, because you have a flexible schedule, friends or family might assume that you’re available at any time to take their dog on a walk, pick up a sick kid from school, or even better, just sitting in your house waiting for someone to drop in unannounced.

The truth is, self-employed people have to protect their time even more than the average 9-5er. After all, your business depends on it.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Be Bold

The first step to protecting your time is to be bold. Unfortunately, if you don’t respect your work time, no one else will either. You have to be willing to put your phone on silent and click off of your emails. You also have to be willing to stand up to the people who constantly abuse your time. (Yes, even if it’s your mom.)

The truth is, sitting down and resenting everyone for bugging you when you’re trying to work is only going to make you angrier. You have to be the one who reminds friends and family that you are working hard. Not only that, you work often, and when you work, you need to concentrate just like everyone else. It won’t be easy to be bold and stand up for yourself, but it will get easier with time. The sooner you do it, the better.

2. Set Business Hours

One of the reasons people become self-employed is because they absolutely love the flexibility of a work day that’s completely controlled by them. However, you’d be surprised how productive you can be if you set business hours. That’s doesn’t necessarily mean working from 9-5 every day, but it might mean letting those closest to you know that 3-6pm is your writing time so you won’t be available for phone calls, emails, or quick chats whatsoever during those hours every day.

The more your set a routine, the more your productivity will skyrocket. Then, the more work you have and the more you talk about it and set stricter hours to get it accomplished, the more those around you will respect your time.

3. Take a Break From Time to Time

This tip might seem counterintuitive to the ones above, but the truth is that you can’t work 24/7 although most entrepreneurs are guilty for trying to do so. Breaks not only allow you to spend time with family and friends but they also give you valuable re-charge time that allows you to have even more energy to tackle your work week.

So whether you take off the whole weekend or just every Wednesday to have lunch with your other half, it’s create to carve out some specific time for rest. Otherwise, you’ll get a reputation for thinking work is more important than family, and that isn’t good either.

Ultimately, it’s a fine balance when it comes to your work schedule as an entrepreneur. Some weeks you might have to work harder than everyone else while other weeks might have incredible flexibility. Either way, the best thing you can do to protect your time is to try to create a schedule and let others know about it. This way, your loved ones know when you’re working but more importantly know that you need some solitude and time to make that work worthwhile.

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Financial Writer and Blogger
Catherine Collins Alford is a nationally recognized author of the book Mom’s Got Money, an award-winning freelance writer, and the co-founder of

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