Thursday, January 19, 2012

10 steps to surviving self employment

It was an adjustment.

The first couple days were very bizarre. I was so accustomed to only feeling that sense of weekday freedom on the days I called in sick from work. I almost felt guilty because I wasn't sick at all...like I said, it was weird.

Slowly a pattern began to emerge, and I knew I couldn't keep taking vacation every afternoon. I had to create a routine and really work on being my own boss. 

I don't think anyone every truly "masters" this notion, but here's how I managed to survive self employment:

1. Shower.

Seems like a given, but it's not. PJS are warm and cozy (yay!) but they have a way of sucking you into the couch and not letting go (boo!).

2. Make the bed. 

The house can be a bit of a disaster, but if the bed is made, at least you have that. 

3. Put something on.

Laundry. The dishwasher. A DVD to burn. Whatever... Just put something on and use it as a constant reminder that you should be working too. 

4. Keep a clean inbox.

Make labels. Make folders. Label your emails. Sort them into folders. I firmly believe this is the secret to mental clarity.  

5. Do something that you're putting off.

We all have a least one thing we should be doing but don't want to be. Usually mine have to do with mailing something internationally, or paying an invoice that can't be paid through online banking. Just do one thing that makes you shudder, and be prepared to feel the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.

6. Talk to a real person.

It's too easy for an entire day to go by without saying any words at all. With all the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloggage...why would we need to? But maintaining relationships with the important people in your life will help you stay human. And help your friends to remember that you exist.

"Hey...what ever happened to that chick, Laura?"
"Oh, I think she started a business and then died..."
"Shame. Are you going to the vigil?"

7. Stick with an old tradition.

Whether it be the morning coffee you used to have every day, or the newspaper you used to read at the breakfast table before work (or in my case, last night's episode of Chelsea Lately...), make the time to do something you used to love from your working days, and integrate it as part of your new routine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it...you know?

8. Keep up with the beat.

This is a tough one...because without a morning and evening commute, how on Earth can you be expected to stay in touch with the music of today? Make an account on Grooveshark and browse the top songs for the day, or check out the iTunes charts every once in awhile.  

Side note: the title of Tip #8 is so cheesy, but I'm kinda into it.

9. Never look at your old paystubs.

Trust me on this...there's just no point.

10. Don't forget to punch out.

I remember waiting for the sound of the 4pm bells at City Hall. It was one of my favourite sounds in any given day because it meant I was done work. The rest of the night was completely mine, and I knew I didn't have to think about anything work-related until the next morning.

When you work from home, no one tells you when you're finished. Technically, you're always at the office. The sound of a new email still sends you over to the computer regardless of the time of day. But it really is important to remember to check yourself out of work, to turn the phone off, close the lid of the laptop, and turn out the lights in the office.  


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