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As a marketing manager, you probably went into your current role with the hope of enjoying some freedom from flexible work practices. I know that was part of the attraction for me, for having my own business. Unfortunately, like many marketing managers I have met, you may have ended up swapping one role for 10 in the form of responsibility, and perhaps ended up with a to do list which is more demanding and unreasonable than ever before.

When your livelihood depends on keeping your job, it can be easy to fall into a habit of being available more or less 24/7 and acquiescing to every demand. This is a trap I definitely fell into (especially since having my own business) and I see many of my clients (marketing managers and business owners alike) who work in service oriented businesses fall into the same pattern.

As I can attest to, working yourself into the ground to meet every demand of your role does not work out well. All work and no play makes Jack not only a dull boy, but a tired and cranky one who is not going to be able to create their best work for anybody in your organisation. So just how do you keep your boss and colleagues happy while still having a life when you are a one or two person team marketing team?

Over the years I’ve learned that it all comes down to the expectations you create and the boundaries you set. In spite of my early trepidations, I’ve discovered that it is possible to set clear boundaries with even the most demanding boss or internal stakeholders, and they will respect you more for it.

I thought I would share a few of my favourite tips and strategies to help you reclaim your sanity, and your weekends, from even the clingiest of colleagues (or bosses!):

1. Determine what your boundaries are. It is impossible to set boundaries unless you yourself know the parameters. As a marketing manager, you should have the option to keep conventional business hours if you prefer but you still need some time off, then technology and working remotely should be an option as well. Perhaps you want to work Tuesday to Saturday (sometimes), or take a few hours every afternoon to pick your children up from school and work extra time in the evenings after they are in bed. Deciding what work life balance means for you and how you want to fit your work in around other priorities is the first step to setting boundaries effectively.

2. Start as you mean to go on. The easiest way to set clear boundaries with everyone around you is to establish them from the beginning. When dealing with new stakeholders, make it clear that you don’t work after a certain time at night or on weekends and stick to it. If the expectations are laid out from the start you are far less likely to run into difficulties.

3. Respond to emails after hours but don’t actually do the work. If your boss is used to you being available 24/7, you will probably need to retrain them gently. Ignoring people on the weekends is not likely to go over well but what you can do is respond to their emails immediately with a deadline for when you will complete the task. Acknowledging their email or answering their call reassures them you are available for them and setting a clear timeline also tells them you aren’t working after hours. You can respond with something like ‘let me take a look at it first thing Monday when I am back in the office and I will have an answer to you by lunchtime’.

4. Be proactive where possible. When I have a client (in my case) who has regular monthly or weekly tasks, instead of waiting until they give me the go ahead to do them (often at the last minute or on the weekend), I get in touch and suggest I get started at a time that suits me. This means that instead of slaving away over the weekend I can have the job done in my normal working hours. As an added bonus, it makes me look like I am super organised, which is never a bad thing!

5. Know when to seek outside help. If you are constantly drowning under a workload that keeps you stressed 24/7 it may be time to start outsourcing some of the less important tasks or find someone to collaborate with (maybe another marketing manager or get outside help from a marketing agency like Next Marketing) to help take the load off. An external resource could take on tasks that allow you to claim back some of your life without compromising on your level of service.

As a marketing manager, it’s easy to become so absorbed in the demands of your organisation that you forget the whole reason you decided to be a great marketing manager. Setting firm boundaries around work and your personal life may be challenging at first but it will definitely pay off in the long run as you get to enjoy the freedom of working for yourself and a healthy work life balance.

How do you set boundaries with your boss and internal stakeholders and ensure a healthy work life balance?