Remembering the “Self” in Self Employment

This past week has been a mess. Between power outages and just about everything else, I have felt extremely overwhelmed.

My clients are still happy, but I had to sit back for a few minutes and think. Is that all that matters? Sure, the clients pay the bills. And I’m crazy about each and every one of them, or else they wouldn’t be my clients.

But what about me?

Don’t I count?

Yes and no. As you know, “getting stuff done” is just something you’ve got to do. Whether you’re sick or a tree comes through your roof (uh huh), you can’t not work.

But it’s pretty important that you take a few minutes for a little self-care, too.

I did a little soul searching (which was more like a compilation of coping mechanisms) this week and wanted to share with you what I discovered. I realize that this post steps away from my M.O., but if I can help even one of you to feel less overwhelmed, I’ve dun good.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to get with the program when I feel like work’s taking over my life.

Make a phone call.

I called my sister this past week. And just those few minutes on the line with her were a welcome break from the chaos that is self-employment.

Remember – you have to freedom to step away from your work for a few minutes.

Take the opportunity! Just walking away from the screen for a minute or two and focusing on something that’s not work related can give you the energy you need to keep going.

Try adulting.

Last Thursday, I paid every single one of my bills. Early. Rent was due, so I paid that. Then, I pumped money into the electric, water, internet and cell phone accounts. I filled up my gas tank. I bought groceries.

Then I was broke.

But two things happened. First, the recognition that I was broke spurred me into action. I got a lot of work done that day.

Secondly, the fact that I was adulting gave me a bit of an ego boost.

This job does pay the bills. It is a viable means of supporting my family. I can do this!

Why do you do this? Is it money? To spend more time with your family? Because of your love of travel? Remind yourself of your motivation, then get to work.

Take a “working not working” day.

People seem to think that we, as freelancers, can just take off work whenever we want. And while we’re afforded a lot more flexibility than those unfortunate office-job types, that’s just not true.

But what we can do is take a “working not working” day. Plan ahead a little, and make sure your ducks are in a row. Then, schedule a day where you catch up with your personal blog, do some marketing, pitch a few publications, or just research certifications and seminars in your industry.

You’ve got the best job on the planet, and the flexibility to take a working not working day if things are starting to get to you. Use that flexibility to get your motivation back.

Sick? Take the day.

The cool thing about freelancing is that we don’t have a boss. The not so cool thing about freelancing is that we have about twenty bosses.

But, all things considered, you are the CEO. You should act like one. Other CEOs rarely have a problem rescheduling a meeting or requesting a deadline extension. You shouldn’t either.

Your clients are human and they realize you are, too. Everyone gets sick now and then, and there’s a rare soul who won’t understand that you, too, fall under the weather.

I recently guest posted on the site of a dear colleague, Monica. She’s the voice behind Fuller Life Makeover – you can see the post here.

In that post, I reminded her readers that having sick day guilt is like apologizing for being human. Don’t take on that guilt. Pick up the phone, reschedule that meeting, and go back to bed.

Manage your expectations.

Stealing a page from Monica’s book, you have to feasibly manage your expectations – and your energy. As she says, “Even with things we want to do, if you fail to look at the big picture (and a week has 168 hours) you’re just setting yourself up for nightly dates with your couch.”

You want to go to the gym, but feel guilty because you’re too tired. You want to begin that fiction piece, but… yeah. Too tired. You want to. You want to. You plan. You expect. Then you fail.

Manage your energy, and realize you’re not a superhero.

I mentioned earlier that each of my clients ended their week happy. I did not. I felt as if I hadn’t accomplished everything I’d intended to do, and that left me cross and angry with myself.

But!

Each of my clients was happy! I did get all my work done. Plus some, actually. The only thing I failed to do was set aside a few hours for myself.

There’s a very good chance that you’re doing just fine. There are only 168 hours in the week. You can’t stretch them to equal 200. Schedule out your time for your clients, and put aside a few extra for yourself, too.

For more novel balanced living tips check out Fuller Life Makeover. I tend to focus on the freelance stuff. Monica can guide you through the work-life balance stuff!

Do something drastic – but not too drastic.

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to bump you into action. Know what I did? I colored my hair candy apple red.

I’m not saying you should run out and get “I LOVE FREELANCING” tattooed on your neck. I’m merely suggesting that you do something just a little different.

Change the position of your desk.

Get a new mousepad.

Work outside today.

Whatever it takes to life you out of the doldrums. If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me.

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