Locked Up but Not Closing Up: What My Small Business Taught Me About Saying “No” & Setting Boundaries

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The first message I received yesterday was from my neighbor across the street. Her boyfriend’s car was stolen overnight and a lot of other cars were reported ransacked. She recommended we check our cars and also lock them up.

Amusingly, my husband’s car has been sitting out front for some time with a dead battery. Oh, and the key has been stuck in the ignition. In addition, the car has been unlocked for weeks, because that’s just the type of neighborhood we live in! (You better believe that was taken care of yesterday!)

As I prepared myself for the day, I began to think about the phrase, “Locked Up.” Outside of even our homes and vehicles, we need to be locked up…  Personally, professionally, etc.

Nearly 40 years have passed in my life, and many of these years were spent with my mind and soul unlocked. They’ve been open for the taking, by anyone and everyone.

Other people’s moods and ideals were able to overtake mine as if I were a zombie.

My schedule was shaken as soon as someone asked for a moment of time.

My self-care was non-existent.

While it may make me sound as though I’m uncaring and ungiving, recently I’ve been padlocking my entry points. I’m only allowing myself to digest sights, sounds, food, social media, etc. that I want to see. In addition, the only resources I expend are those I pre-allot.

Do I want to help the world?


But I can’t make an impact when my own resources are running dry (or completely depleted).

Locked Up but Not Closing Up: What My Small Business Taught Me About Saying “No” & Setting Boundaries

I was in business for nearly six years before I saw how I was leaving myself wide open.

Recently Perry Marshall was a guest on the Positive Productivity Podcast, and we had an intriguing chat about the 80/20 rule. During the chat I realized I had two clients who were taking up 95% of my time while contributing 5% of my income.

My resignation letters hit my sent file shortly after Perry and I hung up. Although I have great respect for these clients and the work they do, I realized that considering the direction I was trying to steer my business in, they were the rudders keeping me pointing in the wrong direction.

Just a few months later, Jarrod Haning was on the podcast (his episode has not yet been released as of when I when I write this). He shared that the majority of struggling entrepreneurs have to-do lists full of activities they either a) shouldn’t be doing or b) should be delegating.

Up until that point, I thought I was on a roll. I thought I was on the upward path, making progress on the 80/20 rule. But my journal with that day’s to-do list was open next to me, and my jaw dropped as I reviewed it.

80%+ of the tasks were those I didn’t need to do, ie. clean out my inbox, reschedule appointments, etc.

My friend, my calendar is swamped with client calls and work. The last thing I need to worry about is whether my inbox has 266 items in it or less than 50. In all actuality, I have team members who could and would manage my inbox if I just asked.

But I hadn’t asked.

By leaving my own to-list unlocked, I had allowed my day and mind to be filled with meaningless activities.

Immediately after, I had another “aha!” moment. My awesome podcast production manager and I were in the midst of a late night brainstorming session when she said, “I think you should cut back to 5 episodes a week.”

Her words alone provided me instant relief, and I think I surprised her when I responded, “How about 2 episodes a week instead?”

I had allowed my podcast to take over my schedule, and in the process had been focusing on quantity over quality.

I haven’t posted a blog in months before this entry because all my (strained) creativity was going in to the podcast.

And it wasn’t good.

Actually, it’s not that it wasn’t good. I hear only positive feedback about the podcast. But it was burning ME out AND burning out the listeners. (If you’re looking to launch a podcast, do NOT do a daily show unless it’s focused on the news or a daily short! You don’t have time for it and neither do your listeners! You CAN get MORE downloads off LESS episodes!)

Immediately, I locked up my podcast recording schedule. My calendar is not accepting new recording sessions for the next six months, and even then I will only record two episodes per week.


Knowing that 3-8 hours per week (minimum) has instantly been reclaimed for me, my team and our clients is more than just a little bit… relieving.

I used to think that locking things up made them less accessible. The process of locking up my calendar, my to-do list and my client list (to start) makes ME more accessible FOR me, though.

I’m locked up but not closing up.

And to me, that’s a win.