You’re Freelance? Be kind to yourself.
I want to ask you to be kind to yourself. Being your own boss is a wonderful marvelous experience, and I’d say 99% of people I meet would never want to go back to being fully employed, but we don’t always do ourselves any favours.
Whatever you want to call it; freelance, entrepreneur, self-employed, you are now solely responsible for bringing in the money and if you’re not careful you might turn out to be the worst boss ever.
And you’re in good company! There has been a 50% increase in women going into creative self-employment in the last decade, so know that you are in good company.
You can’t possibly know everything straight away
Working for yourself, means generally and especially at the start that you have a lot of different tasks to do, and sometimes learn.
You need to be a bookkeeper, digital marketing expert, public relations whizz, accountant, creator, web designing, brand specialist, administrator, spokesperson, computer technician and all-around wonder woman. Don’t be surprised if you’re not amazing at all these things straight off the bat!
Allow yourself time and space to learn, don’t berate yourself if you’re not on top of everything all the time. And don’t be frightened to ask for help. That might be in the form of friends, other freelancers, people you meet at a networking group, coaches and mentors, blogs posts you read and hints and tips you pick up.
Things might take longer than you think
It’s really easy to see other people doing the same thing as you that appear a lot further along, wiser, with more clients, more press attention, more money. What you don’t see is the years it took them to be where they are.
We all go on a journey. No-one wakes up and has an amazing business straight away. Overnight success? It’s a myth!
Have a root around in the pasts of some of the people you admire and aspire to be like and you’ll see years of work that has gone into where they are today. Feels good to know that it takes time.
Remember you are right where you need to be. If you were further ahead you probably wouldn’t be ready and when you get there you will.
It takes a while to be established as a brand and for people to know who you are, so go easy on yourself.
There are only so many hours in the day
I’ve coached women who feel that they should be getting more done. But when you get down to brass tacks they might have children to pick up from school, dogs to walk, they might still be doing a few hours employed work for someone else, maybe they only have 2 days a week in their business, there are a multitude of things that can get in the way.
And they’re frustrated and ashamed that they aren’t plowing through their to-do lists as fast as they would like.
Remember there are only so many hours in the day. Be realistic about what you can do in a day and then cut an extra quarter off (maybe even half). If you do more than great. But getting through a realistic to-do list and feeling great is a lot better than feeling shit because you haven’t done half the things you wanted to do.
Sit down at the beginning of each day and work out what you can realistically fit in – 2/3 biggish tasks is probably the limit!
Use your calendar
An electronic one if preferable! (this just underlines my paranoia that if I have a paper diary I could lose it on the train and then where would I be? If you are good at not losing things and love paper then go for it!)
Block sections of your day up and assign tasks in your diary. Got to write a blog post, create a date in your diary for it. Need to finish your tax return, make space in your diary for it. Planning and breaking up your day and week will help you focus and get jobs that need doing done.
And don’t forget to add some nice things too.
Don’t feel guilty if you take a break in the middle of the day
I loved it when I read ‘The Artists Way’ years ago and it suggested that I should make a date with myself each week. So I (try) and block out a couple of hours each week to do something with myself. You could for a swim, watch a movie, or check out an art exhibition – but something that poured some love back into your cup.
I spoke to a fabulous client this week, who suggests that people look at the tasks they have for the day and work out which ones at depleting and which ones are replenishing. If you don’t have anything that replenishes you, fit some in, otherwise, you’ll end the day totally knackered.
And it doesn’t have to be massive. A nice cup of tea can be replenishing, alongside a walk around your garden. Just something you can fit in to fill your cup back up.
We love the idea of being freelance and having an afternoon off. But when it comes down to it we feel guilty. Everyone else is working on a Wednesday afternoon, we couldn’t possibly just float around the shops…could we? Yes, you can. Enjoy your new-found freedom - freedom, not prison.
Around your personal life, your social media usage, time on the laptop, weekends and evenings.
Only you can choose where these boundaries lie, but it’s worth making them consciously and almost creating an agreement with yourself, that you must try to stick to.
When you feel work creeping in the back door, you’ll be better able to stamp on it. Protect your ‘me’ time. Someone who is constantly working and being busy (I know, I’ve been there) is a bore.
My boundaries include not checking my phone in the morning until after I’ve dropped Robin off at school. Not working when I’m with Robin (I do sometimes slip up on this one). Not working at the weekend. Only working a couple of evenings a week.
And yes sometimes I do work at the weekend if I absolutely must, but it's definitely few and far between!
Make a contract with yourself
Imagine you are your boss. Hang on a minute, you are! What would you contract look like? If it includes working long hours into the night, having to answer emails while in bed, working in your holidays, answering emails when out with your mates, 50 hour weeks. Would you want to work for this person?
Create a contract that includes how many hours you want to work a week, how many weeks holiday you get, when it’s ok to answer emails, how much self-development budget you are allowed for the year, away days to inspire and refresh.
If you’re going to be your perfect boss, what would you want?
And remember, be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best that you can.
And if you're interested in finding out what it might be like to work with me as your business coach, supporting you to grow your business in a loving, caring, sustainable way - check out my Clarity and Confidence programme x
And just in case you're wondering the people in the picture are my best friend Cathy and my daughter Robin, who always keep my feet firmly on the ground, without whom I certainly wouldn't be where I am today - so Cathy & Robin, from all my heart, thank you xx