I have been writing web copy for a pretty big project for the past month or so, and I must admit that it has tested my patience. It's almost finished I'm glad to say. The biggest challenge of this project has been establishing boundaries.
What are your hours?
I started off letting the client know what hours I would be available. I explained that I begin working at 5:00a.m. each day and break late in the afternoon to pick u my kids and spend time handling homework, snacks, etc. I am available until 6:00p.m. This is not a strict schedule; I'm frequently working later on some days, but I allow "work hours" where I can be contacted by phone, email and Skype. I let clients know that I check my email once more in the late evening around 10:00 p.m. I am not available on weekends unless prior arrangements are made. I mean half the fun of freelancing is being able to set your own schedule, right?
Off to a rocky start
This client contacted me whenever he pleased: as soon as I needed to leave to pick up the kids, late in the evening when we were having dinner and on weekends. I had to politely remind him more than once that I was not sitting by the computer on the weekends waiting for his emails and Skype messages (Okay, I didn't say it like that). Eventually, he got it.
Time is money and so much more
If you don't set boundaries with your clients, you'll wind up feeling like you're on call 24/7. That's a recipe for burnout and major resentment. Establish reasonable hours and let your clients know when you are available – even if you freelance part-time. It's good business and puts clients at ease. But draw your line in the sand and don't waver. Take care of yourself and protect your non-working hours like gold.