I’m kinda hard to get a hold of. Today, people seem to feel entitled to getting a hold of anyone and everyone they know (or follow online) at any time they please. To me, that’s some serious boundary issues, yo.
People often talk to me about how hard it is to reach me in a way that feels a lot like they’re trying to make it a bad thing, sometimes even a sad thing. They’ll say things like “Oh girl you need some help with those emails!” or “I can’t imagine being as busy as you are- you are so hard to get a hold of!”
Well, guess what. I have help with emails. I have an auto-responder that lets people know I’m probably not going to get their email, but I think they’re beautiful and awesome for being a part of my tribe and I want to be authentic in the way I live.
I also have a virtual assistant (hi, Kena!) whose sole job is to handle my inbox for me. She handles the customer service aspect of the emails and places anything that needs my direct attention in a folder that I check once a week for about thirty minutes. If I don’t get to them all, they wait till next time. If I never respond it’s because it wasn’t a priority for me at the time. If something is urgent, Kena contacts me on Voxer to let me know.
I’m learning that people are deeply offended by other people’s boundaries, and that they’d rather think you are so incredibly overwhelmed, stretched soooo thin that you can’t even check your emails, versus accepting that what’s super important to them isn’t as important to you (i.e: whatever they emailed you about).
I’m not that busy. I do homeschool my four children, run an online business from home with my husband, and travel full-time in our camper. But that doesn’t mean I’m busy- it just means I have a very full life.
In this full life, I choose to be very careful with what takes up my time. It’s why I’m a ruthless editor of what comes into my home, of what gets a place on my calendar, and of what I commit to.
I teach other women how to be intentional with their space and their time, and I’ve received major public press for it, yet nearly every week, someone in my life seems shocked and appalled that I actually practice what I preach. Or rather, that they didn’t fall on my list of “worthwhile” tasks.
What’s funny to me is that if I responded to every single email, text, missed call, or social media comment, I would be such a hypocrite. People would be infuriated to learn how I really spend my time. But, here I am walking the talk by choosing one social media platform to be very active on, limiting my text time, and soaking up my family instead of emails, and I still get annoyed comments when someone finally finds me (via a live stream or in person, usually).
I’ve had people post to my public Facebook page (which is run by my lovely social media manager. Delegate, delegate, delegate) in a rage, trying to embarrass me or finally get a hold of me. I’ve had people post in my super amazing Facebook group telling me how hard it is to reach me and saying that it’s bad customer service (note: they’re usually not actually a customer, and my customers know that I have Kena hired solely to serve them and I always respond when they need me).
Here’s the thing – whether you’re an online influencer or a mom of a newborn who hasn’t worn a bra in three weeks (been. there.) you are not obligated to everyone all of the time.
You can respond to that text in an hour, or in three days, or never. *gasp!* Yup, never.
Last week was my writing week (I batch all my writing so it gets done within a few days and gets filtered out over the next month), and I’m always less available by phone during that week of the month. By Friday I had 19 unread text messages highlighted in red on my iPhone messaging app. That doesn’t have anything to do with popularity, it has to do with BOUNDARIES.
I responded to my husband, my mom, and my two closest friends of course. But I chose not to respond to a lot of other people who were reaching out for reasons less important than my writing and my family.
Listen, the fact that someone has your phone number doesn’t give them any right to reach you at any time and expect a response.
You can’t please everybody and you can never be perfect in anybody’s book, so it’s best to just do what works for you, what makes you authentic and happy and purposeful, and let the rest go.
Because you know what? You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. You have to choose. And I would rather be hard to get a hold of by the people who don’t share my living space than by the people who do.
1. Stop checking your phone all the time.
Seriously, knock it off. You’re training people how they can treat you and how accessible you are to them. Pick a place in your house (or at your office if you work) and keep your phone there. Set certain times for checking it and stick to them. For more tips on how to break the habit, read this.
2. Stop responding to every single thing that comes in.
Just because it’s time for you to check your phone does not mean you respond to everything you see on the screen. I have a few times a day for checking my phone, and usually I’ll only respond to the key people in my life or anything that’s pressing (i.e: a time-sensitive email that my assistant is telling me to look at).
3. Be mindfully present.
If you’re taking a walk with your kids, then walk with your kids. If you’re at a stoplight, be at the stoplight. Don’t also be texting or checking email. When we multitask like this, we’re just robbing ourselves of the day and half-assing a couple of things instead of whole-heartedly being available for one thing that matters.
We’re also letting someone else steal away our current moments by sharing the time with them as we respond to whatever they sent us.
Are you hard to get a hold of or do you struggle with the desire to be everywhere all at once? Share your heart in the comments and let’s start an encouraging conversation.