Most weeks, I talk with people who are drunk on the flexibility of self-employment.
It’s a type of intoxication that I know well; hell, it’s an intoxication I shaped my early professional life around. Going to the grocery store in the middle of a weekday is, to me, one of the great pleasures of life, along with scheduling appointments with doctors and hairdressers without having to ask anyone else’s permission and being able to stuff my laptop and calendar into an overnight bag to make on-the-fly trips to be with people I love going through tough times or even just to change my scenery.
Like all forms of intoxication, though, what can first feel like giddy, sparkly nirvana can turn into headaches and hard-knocks when we take it too far.
For these folks I coach who are in the early days of their professional freedom, the mite-too-far often first presents as a nagging feeling of not getting quite enough done to feel satisfied, a feeling of not quite having a grasp on all that they’re juggling.
My first question, “Do you have any daily or weekly routines?”
This is most often met with confusion.
When we’re employed by others, our employer provides the de facto structure to our days and weeks. They tell us when they expect us in the office, what they expect us to get done, what our priorities are, etc. And like the fish unaware of the water in which it swims, the structure is so normal to us that we don’t really even notice it… until it’s gone.
The confusion tends to be followed by resistance: I just got rid of the structure! Don’t make me take it back!
This I also find completely understandable. So here’s my pitch: Schedule like Gumby. Remember that green, claymation character who was all sorts of flexible without completely losing his shape? That’s what we’re shooting for here.
Creating structure for your days and weeks isn’t about marching yourself into a cage of your own making. It’s about giving yourself guidelines in support of getting done what you most want and need to get done – on your personal and professional fronts.
My schedule, for example, creates time for self-care things that I value like meditation, movement, and daily downtime with Theresa. It also ensures that I complete critical weekly tasks so that I (pretty much) always have a grip on things like my meetings, bookkeeping, upcoming events, and my bigger picture goals and projects.
My schedule also means that when life throws me a curveball – say, I get a nasty bug or I grab that aforementioned weekend bag – I know exactly what I’m reprioritizing so that important things don’t fall into a crack and disappear.
In those times, I can flex like Gumby without getting bent out of shape at all.
(And with that, I apologize for that last analogy. It’s terrible. Just terrible. :-D)
Folks in the newsletter community got gift-wrapped with their Monday email a template of the weekly organizational tool that helps me plan, track, and flex, along with some other fun bonuses including an invite to my weekly community video-based gathering, Chomp & Chat. All we’re missing is you – join in here!