Five things I’ve learned since going Self Employed
Starting out as self-employed a few months ago, the time has flown by to the point where I am wondering what on earth I have been doing. And, more importantly, why isn’t That Works For Me fully launched yet?! The reality of course is that there is much to do and I want to do it properly. And, as has become my mantra, these things take time!
Reflecting on my first few months of working alone, here are five things I’ve learned since going self employed. And I think these things probably apply to most people starting out…
Plan Activity Week-by-Week
I have three and a half days in which the girls are at nursery or having a ‘Daddy Day’ – this is my work time. Occasionally I have some bonus-time during naps or I carve some time out in the evenings but between washing, cleaning, bag-packing and all that other fun mum stuff, that’s it. A girl’s gotta sleep! Years of office work means I know when I am productive and how much I can get done. So I plan accordingly using a spreadsheet which is basically a ‘to-do’ list for each week. I have my list of things to do every week (social media, accounts, system checks etc.) and then other things that actually move That Works For Me forward – the ‘big activities’. This means that one big activity can take me three weeks to do. It’s frustrating but acknowledging this up front helps me manage my own expectations and I can sometimes look for other ways to find more time; whether that be asking my husband to pick up more family tasks or having the girls spend extra time at nursery or with their grandparents.
Learn when to compromise
Yes, I am desperate to fully launch everything now and yes, I want to get selling – but these things take time. There’s always a balance between speed and quality, especially if I want to get this right first time! Sadly, what we’re doing doesn’t come straight out of a box so the time must be taken to do it properly. I’m learning to compromise, some activities need to be done perfectly, others are fine as they are. As a natural perfectionist this one has been my toughest but also most productive lesson.
Know your limits
I learnt very early on how easy it is to drift through a week without having achieved anything real. For example, when I was teaching myself a bit of web development in the very early days, I watched hours and hours of YouTube tutorials trying to make sure an image changes size between a phone and a PC. I still haven’t nailed it! In fact I acknowledged the limit, gave up and called in an expert. I realised that wasting hours on something I was unlikely to do in the future probably wasn’t the best use of my time.
One of the reasons I decided to become self-employed was to balance my life with my work. Not just my family life but also myself. This means looking after myself, something I have very much neglected in the past.
For me, this is eating well and exercising. After sorting out the girls, exercise is the first thing I do before work. It leaves me energised and clear-headed for the rest of the day. The exception is on Wednesdays when I go to an incredibly relaxing candlelit yoga class in the evening after the girls are in bed. It’s heavenly!
I’m feeling more healthy now than I have done for years, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays when I stick to my meal plans!
Moments that matter
I am deeply passionate about flexible working, as is everyone else involved with That Works For Me, and we are here to bring work-life balance to people’s lives. This means our own lives as well as other people’s.
I always vowed that if I had children then I would bring them up, I didn’t want them being brought up by someone else while I worked all the hours under the sun. For me that defeats the object of having them in the first place. That’s not to say that I’m with them all the time, they go to nursery and they have lots of sleepovers with their grandparents. But the majority of the time they are with my husband and I. This means that whilst I have a tonne of things that I need to do and not very much time to do it in, if it happens to be 25 degrees one Wednesday afternoon then I will put my laptop away and go to the beach with my family. Because if I can’t do it now then when can I?
There you have it, my top five things I’ve learned since going self employed. What are your top tips for starting out? How do you make the best use of your days? Share them with us below or on our threads on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.