When you are your own boss, the schedule you create is yours.
Of course it’s yours! You are your own boss! You didn’t earn the vague title of entrepreneur, business owner, freelancer, or my all time favourite, ‘consultant’ without a little head smarts.
During my first 2 years running my own business, creating and maintaining a healthy work schedule was one of the toughest things to do.
When do I start my day? How many breaks should I take? When do I want to be working and when do I have time for other things in my life like sleep (what a joke), social time, exercise or being part of humanity?
This is where, and I will not stress this enough, it’s important to have a mentor or business coach to help you. You need to admit you don’t know what you are doing.
Admitting that you don’t know jack about accounting, marketing, closing, etc. will be your saviour.
It should have been obvious, but my mishaps in creating a work/life balance pretty much switched from working for large corporations to pounding the pavement on my own. And let me tell you, it’s hard to pound the pavement when you can’t afford running shoes.
Part of the reason why I left my career was that the hours were ridiculous. My last boss (before I quit) once got upset at my coworker for not answering an e-mail he sent at 2:30 in the morning.
Yes, that was the time I would still be at the club in my 20’s, but now, I need a solid 8 hours to function. Thank you mid 30’s, you’re a real treat.
The nature of the business, like many, was to be available all the time, fly by the seat of your pants and when something big happens, you are there to respond until the job is done.
My former job was also physical. I carried a lot of equipment around with me and now that I think about it-that’s got to be tiring!
It took a long time after I launched my business to realize that I was cultivating that same kind of go-go-go culture that I was so desperate to leave. Now I was doing it with hardly any income, living at my parents' house with no insurance and mounting regret.
I’m going to put this out there: I was really worried. And embarrassed. And constantly questioning if I had made the right decision or did I, in fact, royally screw up my life beyond measure. Something inside me told me to keep going, and so I did. With help. Lots and lots of help.
So how do I solve this problem of always being on? Don’t I have to be? It’s a one woman show after all.
In my mind, I already knew that working this way was detrimental in every way for my health, my creativity (who can be creative when you can barely keep your eyes open?) and for balance.
North American culture is one of the 9-5, extra long hours and for some stupid reason, we boast about working 80 hours a week while still being able to go out and reno the kitchen.
It is stupid and it has its consequences.
During my last meeting with my business coach, he asked me to write out my ideal day. From the moment I wake up until when I go to bed, on a typical day, what would that look like?
Let me tell you, this exercise is not easy. I felt almost guilty writing it down. You mean, I can choose? Really, anything? Well duh, of course you can.
I think the uneasiness comes from knowing you have that much control. You can, and people have, built their ideal days and live it. It’s easy to blame your job, your partner, your cats, for why you aren’t happy. But really it’s all on you. That’s a tough reality check but to move ahead, you’ve got to understand and acknowledge this.
My ideal day consisted of mornings dedicated to self-care: yoga, meditation, personal writing and then some form of exercise. Eating breakfast at home with a cup of coffee and relaxing music was key. Oh, and I put in showering and putting makeup on in there too because both those things make me feel beautiful. The shower being mandatory but you get what I’m saying.
The afternoon consisted of dedicated writing and 'work', followed by being home to have dinner with my family.
We automatically work in a way that is based on the structure around us. What I mean by that is, we believe we have x amount of time at work, that is set in stone, and the rest of the time we have to figure out what to do with our lives.
How about doing the opposite? Create a schedule in which you put a priority on what matters to you most, and work the other way around? Thank goodness for coaches.
When you dedicate yourself to being healthy, tending to your body by eating the best food you can buy, getting off your phone, and not feeling guilty for going to the movies when it makes you giddy, you are setting yourself up for success.
Why are we working ourselves to the ground? Saying we love our families but never spend time with them? Saying we love to travel but end up spending 4 hours nightly scrolling through photos on Instagram with serious fomo?
No one is telling you to quit your job to start spending your days floating along a lazy river with endless mojitos in hand. What I am putting out there is to look at your day-to-day life and really see where you are spending your time. For just 3 days, write down everything you do. It's going to be really annoying, but it will open your eyes. Are you all talk? Are you feeling good about where your time goes?
Flipping your thought process and building your ideal schedule is a game-changer. And trust me, the frantic parents, eyebrow raising friends and former co-workers will think you have lost your mind. Bills on bills on bills will whisper, “This is too hard”.
I told them to shut it. All of them. Bills and actual people to be more clear.
You have 100 per cent control of your life, your schedule. Everyone has an excuse as to why they can’t do it, but think about all the people who did.
Don't get me wrong, they worked hard for it. It came after tons of trial and error, a lot of sacrifices and side hustle. It wasn't an overnight sensation, it rarely ever is, but things started blossoming with every change they made.
They are not a big bunch, but man, they are living on another level. My goal is to keep focused and get there myself, one ideal day at a time.