Boundaries: How to Set and Keep Yours

Jun 26, 2022
Boundaries: How to Set and Keep Yours

Sue, a VA Connection community member, reached out to me this week for help with client boundary-setting. She said that her clients want their work done immediately, often outside of her usual working hours.

She’s not alone. This is a common complaint in the VA world. Many times, Virtual Assistants think it’s the client’s fault, and that they need a “different” kind of client. But what’s really happening is that VAs don’t SET and STICK to their working boundaries when interacting with clients. That’s what causes the rub.

I know that one of the reasons you want to be a VA is so that you can decide when you’ll work, where you’ll work, who you’ll work with, and how much you’ll earn. But that means you can’t let your clients run the show when push comes to shove.

There are two emotions that motivate this.  One is fear. Fear that your clients will go away if you don’t jump every time they call. So, you jump. The other is people-pleasing – wanting them to really like you at all costs.

The result of this jumping and people-pleasing is that we train our clients to think that we’re working all the time (because we’re responding to them all the time).

This next piece is important because attitude is everything.

I’m not suggesting getting all badass with your clients. You don’t need to take a hard stand to hold the line. It’s much easier than that and requires far less energy.

What I want you to do is decide ahead of time when you’re going to work. Then do it. Period.

Here are some true story examples and solutions from my own experience:

  1. My client emails me on Thursday night at 7:30 PM (after hours) about a task she wants me to handle. Then she texts me at 8:30 the next morning (before hours) to make sure I got the email. I wait until 9:00 AM when my day starts and text back “I’ll take a peek when I get to my desk and get back to you.”

  2. My client emails me on Saturday and asks me to do work for them that afternoon. I don’t respond to the email and email them about 10:00 AM on Monday. “I was away from my desk enjoying the weekend. I’m just seeing this. I can fit it into my work queue at 3:00 PM today. Does that work for you?”

When scenarios like this happen, I don’t get emotionally charged up. I don’t get angry. Hopefully, I don’t even see the client communication until it is time for working hours. But if I do, I just let it flow right over me.

The result? The clients that I want to work with will respect me. They treat me with courtesy and kindness.

Here’s an example of an email I got from a client today with a work request:

Hi Belinda,

I’m wrapping up my email newsletter draft today and expect to send it to you by tonight.

Will you have time to do your magic and schedule it to go out via MailChimp next Tuesday or Wednesday?

Happy Summer!


I bet you’d love to have that email in your inbox as much as I loved receiving it. It’s up to you to make sure that happens. You’ve got this.



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