The Structure Problem
Structure is an issue that most self-employed service providers struggle with. ADD coaches, in particular, often suffer from self-imposed pressure to always "be there" for the client. ADDers frequently need accountability and follow-ups, and many coaches fall into the trap of thinking that in order to be a good coach, they have to be available all the time.
This is simply not true. The first rule of being a 'good' coach is to be a 'good' person!
In order to be a 'good' coach, you must feel good about yourself and your life. You must be a happy, fulfilled person who has a surplus of positive energy. You cannot serve your clients well if you are overwhelmed and over-scheduled. You have to have a life outside of work. And in order to do this, you must have boundaries in the business.
Business boundaries come in the form of schedules. The business is OPEN certain days of the week, and CLOSED other days of the week. On those OPEN days, the business has certain operating hours.
No matter how great a coach you are, no matter how many people you are helping, and no matter how much good you are doing in the world, you cannot forget that your ADD coaching practice is a business, and businesses need boundaries.
If you forget this fact, you will struggle both emotionally and financially.
What To Do
First, decide what your working days are. What days of the week will your business be OPEN? What holidays will you have off? How much vacation time will you allow yourself?
Then, decide what your working hours will be. Establish your operating hours for each working day.
Next, figure out which days you will actually be coaching in your work week. Don't forget that you need time every week for administrative, marketing, and planning tasks.
Finally, stick to it! If a (potential) client calls on Sunday, and Sunday is not a working day for you, wait until the next business day to return the call. Clients won't respect your boundaries if you don't respect them.
A Living Example
Many self-employed service providers fear that limiting their availability means that they will lose clients. I have found the opposite to be true.
Here's my favorite example: A former client of mine is a massage therapist. When we began working together, he was working 7 days a week, taking clients any time of day or night. If a client called and wanted a massage at 6:00 AM, he'd do it. If another client wanted a massage at 10:00 PM that same day, he'd do it! He was so scared of losing a client that he burnt himself out being on call all day, every day. To make matters worse, he could barely make ends meet. He simply wasn't getting the number of clients he needed to sustain himself and the business.
We both knew that he needed to decrease his working days and his operating hours, but it was hard for him to get over his fear of losing clients. Eventually, he did. He cut back to 6 days a week, started attending exercise classes in the mornings, and decreased his evening hours.
To his surprise (but not to mine), business picked up. Most clients were happy to book an appointment within his new operating hours, and he let go of clients that weren't. His stress level decreased, and he found himself giving better massages, which led to more referrals.
This former client checked in with me about a week ago, and he was happy to report that business is booming! He has been booked and making great money.
While this client is not a coach, I have seen this scenario happen over and over again with myself, my colleagues, and my clients who are coaches.
When you let the boundaries blur between yourself and your business, you will struggle with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. When you take care of yourself, your business will take care of you.