One of the reasons I gave up the dreaded J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) rat race and decided to go on my own is because I’d simply had it.
I wanted to own my time again and I wanted to be my own boss. The burnouts weren’t worth it. The long hours for minimal pay made me unproductive and unhappy.
I gave up my J.O.B. because I wanted my life back and I wanted an income that made a difference in my life. And as my anti-climactic epiphany… scrubbing toilets and cleaning up other people’s messes is just icky.
Amen to me! (See? Always knew I was a smart chick!)
Aaaaaannnnddd… maybe, that’s you, too.
Maybe you’re still working that dreaded J.O.B. but contemplating on giving it up for self-employment. Or maybe you’ve already started a home-based business. And you probably have it in your head that nothing can be worse than that dead-end job or corporate hellhole you were in the past however many years.
You’re also probably thinking that this “going at it alone” shtick is going to be a piece of cake. No more 80-hour workweek! Sandy beaches and long vacays, here I come!
::Please insert frantic brake pumping and the sound of squealing tires here::
Umm… No. Not exactly.
Not to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t actually work that way. Not all the time, and especially not when you’re starting out.
Take me as an example. Every day is a bit of a struggle (granted a fun one!). It’s an endless juggle—I have to be the CEO, the writer, the editor, and the secretary. I pay the bills, work the schedules, and scout and book the clients. I’m a one-woman productivity super-machine. And sometimes I’m more like a limp spaghetti noodle, with overloaded brain leakage from my ears.
Do I get burnt out?
Well, I’m still here.
I’m still writing, and I haven’t tried looking for a job yet. I get tired, yes of course I do. Maybe even burnt out some days, when the world feels a bit heavy. But with time, I was able to work through the kinks and make things work for me, regardless of the occasional bad day.
It’s all about time management. Or even better: as Maren says, time optimization. And it’s something I STILL struggle with. Daily. Hourly even.
I know you’ve heard this all before, and it’s not anything new. True.
But you need to realize time management isn’t about keeping an iPhone or Blackberry and logging in meetings and travels, or scheduling time to write that all-important report. That’s part of it, sure.
But that’s not everything. Oh contraire mohair!
Some people fear working on their own because they fear that they don’t know how to structure their day to ‘get r done’.
Listen… it’s not that difficult. It all begins with one question:
What is important to you?
What is important to me is to achieve a work-life balance that allows me to earn enough for a comfortable lifestyle. By this, I mean a lifestyle that I can actually live, and not the lifestyle that I can theoretically and financially afford, but never have time for.
Know what I mean?
Good time management is essentially… achieving a work-life balance.
OK, so now I’m sure what’s drifting through your brain is “Wait… but Cori, how do I DO it? How do I MANAGE?!”
Here’s the deal.
There are three important things that you should try to accomplish on a weekly basis, come rain or shine; work, play and study. These three things are important for your business and your life. If you do them well, then there’s no reason for you not to achieve success as an entrepreneur.
Decide how many hours you will work on a weekly basis. Whether it’s a 40-hour workweek or an 80-hour one, you decide. It’s all on you. This is one of most empowering things that I’ve ever encountered—and this is one of the many reasons why I continue to choose to be self-employed.
I try to schedule things early in the week. By Monday each week, I’ve already divided and assigned my hours to all of my clients and projects that need me for that week. At the same time, I give myself some flexibility to allow me to shift schedules when the need arises.
It’s important to think ahead and think for your client. This helps them manage their project and at the same time, it helps you manage YOUR time.
It’s called being pro-active. Look it up. Again, it’s nothing new, but it’s very important for any line of business or any job for that matter.
There should always be room for study. There’s a reason why many companies provide job training for their employees. Learning is important and lots of people learn from their jobs—but it shouldn’t be the only source of your continuing education.
It’s a little harder when you’re self-employed. YOU need to find time to get yourself up-to-date. YOU need to schedule time to learn new or improve upon existing skills. This is what will make you competitive, be on top of your game and keep clients coming back for more.
You need to find time for your family and your passion. Find a way to earn a decent living that will allow you to afford and live the lifestyle that you want. You need to play to achieve a balance in your life. Find the time and schedule it. Don’t wait, just do it. Just doit mon, just doit! (Yes that was my lame-o attempt at a Jamaican accent, stop laughing!)
Oh and FYI… it’s OK to schedule play-time any day of the week. That’s the nice thing about being self-employed.
You can watch a movie at 11am on Tuesday or play hooky and hit the beach on Monday, and nobody will give you crap for it. Heck twinkle toes, you can even go dancing on a Thursday night just because you feel like it! (Just make sure that it doesn’t mess up that project you’re working on, thankyouverymuch!)
Play is important. Play keeps you grounded and loving your life, so that on those days you feel over (or under!) whelmed, you just keep swimming.
And… there you have it.
The perfect-o recipe for work-life balance.
1. Working, studying and playing are equally important.
2. A smart and happy worker is a productive one.
3. And when you’re productive, you can really kick some you know what! Ka-POW!