Thoughts on how to have a life AND run a business
I started writing this post a while back and it got lost in my Evernote, and I just came across it and I got stoked to expand on it and share it with ya this week! In a few weeks it'll be SEVEN YEARS since I quit my full time job to start my business, which honestly is a mindfuck in itself.
Most days I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm just winging it, haha, but I wouldn't have it any other way, and I'm still living the life I wanna live and making money so I figure I must be doing something right. 👊 💜
So I thought I'd share some of the things I've learnt about how to run a business AND also have a life... I also posted on my Instagram story to ask how other people do it — so I've got some thoughts from some friends in here too.
Quick side note :: I know sometimes we like to glamorise the shit out of self-employment and bang on about it, but I get that it’s not everyone’s vibe… If you work for someone else and you dig it — that’s fucking awesome. Or maybe you’ve been there done that and you’re moving on from self-employment… That’s rad too. I’ve been having some conversations with people around this and I’m working on something for ya. 😜
There will be seasons
Lets go full cheese for a second… One of the reasons I fucking love living in Vancouver, Canada these days is because — compared to where I’m from in NZ — it manages to get four TRUE seasons. Cold winter (with a bit of snow thrown in), warm and straight-up amazing summers, with a real nice spring and autumn too.
I find the same thing in business. I know… Kinda cheesy. But its true, right? If you think about it, your approach to your work might also line up with the actual seasons themselves. If you live somewhere where it gets cold as fuck in winter — maybe those are the months you take to slow down, and Spring is where you’re in the zone making shit happen… You get the idea.
I originally had another point in my notes for this post about how the idea of ‘balance’ is bullshit and not something we should aspire to, and then I realised it actually ties in with these ‘seasons’ vibes. Sometimes you’re 100% in the zone, and sometimes you’re just not. You can’t force yourself to go there when you’re just not feeling it, so instead of putting all of these labels on shit I think we gotta embrace THE FEELS and go with the energy. Roll with it.
Schedule YOU time first, before any work shit
My friend Azalea mentioned this and it’s a goodie… So at the start of each month before any work commitments hit your calendar, put some life stuff in there. Hang sessions with friends, gym sessions, travel or day trips you wanna take, days off, any o that stuff that doesn’t involve work.
I also find that scheduling in your days off is a big fucking deal. I used to be pro at this but lately not so much — and I wanna get a little more structured with my scheduling so I can optimise ma work hours, and ma chilling hours. When you’re not on anyone else's time but your own it can be easy to slip into work mode 24-7, which sometimes is rad, but for the most part its just not sustainable.
Know how you work best
Because there will be times that you have a deadline, you have some client shit due, you got SOMETHIN’ on the calendar, and you just ain’t feeling it… Or you know, you’re just procrastinating like a motherfucker. These are the days you need to know exactly how you work best, so you can get over your own bullshit and just go do the work.
So… Do you work best at home? Do you need headphones? Whats your go-to hustle song? What’s your fave cafe or co-work space? Could you go away to a motel for a night or two and just commit to doing the work until you get kicked out? Do you work better if you start work first thing, or if you have some you-time and get to work around midday or later? Can you book a co-work space for a day or two a week?
For me? Gimme my noise cancelling headphones, a fully charged laptop, some noice house music, throw me in a cafe that’s not tiny and cramped as fuck (small spaces with a lot of people tend to freak me out), and I’ll be good to go for at least a couple hours. If I’ve got a bunch of shit to do, booking a couple days away in some random motel is one of my faves. I wrote about that more over here!
Have other shit in your life to keep you sane
No brainer, fam. As much as you might be completely in LOVE with what you do to make money, you gotta have a life outside of that. I don’t think it’s ever totally healthy to completely throw your life into ONE single thing — whether it be a job, a relationship, a business, anything. You gotta mix it up.
For me over the last few years training and going to the gym has been huge in helping me get out of my own head and having a reason to leave the house some days, haha. Aside from that travel is also something I straight up love.
So… Maybe you got some other hobbies or shit you just love. Travel. Photography. Painting. Cars. Sports. Hanging with friends. Non profit/volunteer work. There’s literally so many other things you could throw yourself into… Find something that gets you stoked and keeps you motivated.
Don’t forget that you can run things however you like
I’m guessing there’s a pretty good chance that if you started your business by yourself, a huge part of the pull behind doing that was having freedom and doing things your way, yeah? Well, sometimes we kinda forget this along the way… If you’ve got a business partner, or family, or someone else relying on you things aren’t as clear cut — I get this — but I also believe we’ve always got control over our own lives.
You can work for a week, and take a week off.
You can have a home office.
You can not have a home office and just roam around with a laptop (like me).
You can have a part time job as well as running your own business.
You can choose not to ‘play bigger’, and keep your biz team to just yourself.
You can decide to have Monday off work and start your work week on Tuesday. (I honestly fucking love this one — having the ability to take Monday off where you can is amazing… Probably because it feels like you’re being rebellious AF, haha).
So yeah... You can run things however the fuck ya want.
Set clear work vs non work times
My pal Lana reminded me of this and it’s something I do here and there… But the days I do it, shit just flows so much better (and faster). A while ago when I first started my business something a coach recommended was that I estimate times for certain tasks, instead of just writing down a very basic to-do list for each day.
Sometimes things will take longer than you expect, but I find for the most part when you block off say 1 hour for email + misc admin, then you’re gonna commit to getting as much done as you can in that one hour. If you don’t set a specific amount of time you’re more likely to fuck around and get distracted. This leads me to the next one...
…and fucking stick to them. I posted on my Instagram last week asking people how they manage to run a business and also have a life, and almost everyone that replied said boundaries is huge for them. It might be boundaries from working hours, to email reply hours, to not giving out your personal phone number, to not working in your bedroom.
Here’s a few of mine ::
- I never work past 6pm, unless its just writing which doesn’t totally classify as work for me. If I work later than this I literally can’t sleep, and also I just work better during the day.
- I’ve never given my phone number to a client. There’s never been a need for it, and although a couple have sneakily tried to ask for my iMessage number or email, I’ve never given it out. If you have a job where you’re not needing clients to contact you via phone, stick to email, Skype, and any other online platforms you might use.
- Similarly… I stay away from any client conversations in Instagram or Facebook messages. It’s a fucking nightmare to keep track of, and again — boundaries. If someone messages you via FB about a new project, kindly let them know all work conversations must come through your email.
- Don’t work in my bedroom (or at least on my bed). I was talking about this with some friends the other day and its kind of a right-of-passage for any self employed person to go through the phase of relising you CAN work from your bed, then 1 month later realising how much it can fuck you up, haha. These days my bedroom is my chill zone and I don’t work in there at all — and it’s fucking great.
So there’s a few examples for you! Whatever you decide to do, it’s not gonna stick unless you actually follow through and hold yourself accountable for these things. It’s also even more important to have these boundaries with clients so you’re both on the same page and you don’t end up hating each other because there was a lack of boundaries there.
ps. If you want some more reading on this, check out this post by my pal Jason – Break Out of the 40-Hour Work Week, The Working To Live Framework.
If you're self employed, what have you learned about having a life and running your business?!