On my entrepreneurial journey I have met many people who, like me once worked within a more corporate environment with “proper” jobs before they decided to run their own petite business.
Along with this “proper” job came corporate conditioning, which included set office working hours week in week out with little flexibility.
On the flip side when you work for yourself there is flexibility and many perks. You are your own boss. You get to decide how, when and where you work. You could have a duvet day and stay in your pyjamas if you wish. You could start early and finish early to get outside and make the most of the sunshine. You could go to a nice cafe to work. Or join in with a yoga class during the day. Or even spend some time with your loved ones and family on a jolly outing.
There are so many things you could do. But do you?
As in reality working for yourself means responsibilities. You may not take up the perks because there is too much work to do. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. If you don’t continue to show up and keep the marketing momentum going where will your next client come from? If you don’t answer emails immediately will they just build up into an inbox overload? If you are not productive day in day out then what? Will everything grind to a halt?
Maybe. But one thing for sure is that this is the ideal way to burn out.
It seems many petite business owners end up working longer hours, for less money than the corporate job and rarely feel able to switch off.
When I started out I had a Blackberry. Remember them? (Not the fruit).The social revolution was just getting going. My working hours tended to be along similar lines to my corporate job. And my Blackberry had an off switch. So during the evenings and at weekends I’d turn it off. That would be my working day done.
However it wasn’t long before the social boom truly arrived and the expectations and ease of being online pretty much all the time increased. And I realised the importance of the digital detox and being more selective on how I choose to spend my valuable time. So much so I was asked to share some more about the benefits of getting offline for our sanity and well being during an interview with BBC Radio Scotland along with a lovely chap from Google.
Why the interviewer asked do you run a social media consultancy and yet are an advocate of digital detox’s? (*it was Susan Calman – she was in Strictly you know?!)
My answer was simple. Yes I loved social media and being online, and of course my business. However I’d learnt the hard way about the importance of time out.
If I didn’t ensure from time to time I slowed down and tuned out, no one else would. I worked hard, felt passionate about my work and would often have my foot to the floor full steam ahead growing my business. But I couldn’t sustain this momentum for long before my brain was frazzled with too much information and I felt overwhelmed and anxious with all the doing and busyness.
Something had to shift. I realised that if I was to carry on I needed to do things differently. Instead of pushing myself even harder, like so many of us do I began to notice the signs of when it was my time for a breather. I would plan ahead for time off and scheduled in social updates to keep up appearances if need be. And my lovely Mum monitored my emails for any client emergencies.
When you are your business you have to put yourself and your well being right at the top of the priority list.
So I did. Following my time out and digital detox I always felt rested, recharged, reinvigorated and raring to go with my work on my return. My own digital detox would become a regular thing.
But then times changed.
Our smart phones got smarter. We’ve ended up more connected than ever. Now we can work and be accessible anytime, anywhere. Even if you are in what appears to be a remote place, off-grid you can pretty much guarantee there will be WiFi. And it will be faster than your home office.
Being connected 24/7 means we can run our petite businesses on the go. But our smart phones need special handling. We have to be strict about turning off notifications and removing the social apps. Because if we are not diligent we end up giving away a lot of our time, energy and focus every day to things that are not really a priority for us.
Emails arrive in our mailboxes any time of day or night. Social media is an addictive habit that’s becoming harder to break. There are so many distractions surrounding us online and off enticing us to give over our attention. We are encouraged to do this, read that, be better, go faster, quicker, more productive and do, do, do.
But we can say no. Not any more.
If the first thing I do in the morning is grab my phone suddenly I am transported to another online dimension. Engrossed in other people’s lives. Whizzing through pretty or motivational images on Instagram. Scrolling down scanning the twitterings on Twitter. Popping over to my email boxes. Yes boxes, I currently have three. Wondering what the weather will be like for the day and instead of looking outside just check out the app. Then of course I end up on Facebook. Just because.
And I am still in my pyjamas and haven’t yet eaten my breakfast.
However, if I decide to get myself ready first it has a significant effect on my day. I ease in to it. I can hear myself think about what is a priority in my world. I'll write a to do list for the day. I feel calm and focused. Productive. Ideas pop into my head. My day flows with more ease. I focus on one thing at a time. I’ll respond to emails once or twice a day. I enjoy being on social media for less time but am able to keep up, connect and share. I feel more present in reality instead of being immersed in others virtual lives. There is more time in my day for me and my petite business. Everything feels so much better.
But it’s not just about whether or not we are online. The changes I needed to make included how I work. Before I thought it would be fabulous to have a virtual business so that I could really live the dream and work from anywhere. Back in the real world I soon learnt that I am a people person. I need to see human being’s face to face. I thrive seeing my clients in person and online. So my work and services changed to reflect this.
And what about the work / life balance?
Is there such a thing? This is still a work in progress however now I don’t work Monday to Friday like the old days. Monday’s are for admin. Tuesday to Thursday are working days and for seeing clients. And as for Friday’s they are dedicated for domestic goddess duties and for me. And the phone is switched off during the evenings and at weekends.
But it is still a challenge that I have to constantly work on. And I know what life was like before the internet and social media. Do you remember those days too?
Back in my teens and early twenties I lived and worked in France as a holiday rep. In those not so ancient times no one had a mobile phone. We had to buy a phone card and use the phone box down the road if we wanted to call anyone. Very occasionally when I remembered I'd call home just so my parents knew I was still alive and I’d send and receive letters via the post. No emails. Proper handwritten letters.
No one knew what I was up to unless I told them. Thank goodness! We were on the cusp of learning about this new fandangled thing called the World Wide Web that was going to change everything. And yet this way of life has become a distant memory.
Become a priority in your own life
It no longer matters if you work in corporate or run your own petite business. Even if you’re the most productive person in the world everyone needs a little time and space to just be. To hit pause for a moment. Tune out. Reflect and enjoy the moment.
And ask am I living my best life?
Am I living and working how I intend to?
Am I a priority in my own life?
Because if the answer is no you’re the only one who can do something about it.
Take a look at the brand new Bloom From Within Sessions. They could be just the ticket for you to focus on you, your intentions, priorities and desires so that you grow, bloom and transform into everything you’re destined to be and more. One of my lovely clients said to me this week that as a result of us working together she is earning more money, has more time off and is working less hours than she has ever done before. You can too.
As for me soon we’ll be heading back to France for our long overdue holiday and Mr M announced he will not be checking his work emails whilst we are away. Neither will I. Everything can wait.
We will be en vacances and enjoying taking our time out.
And I won’t have to text him whilst we are sitting outside a cafe to ask that he puts down his phone and talks to his wife who is sat in front of him..... Happy days.