Ah, self-employment! The ultimate win, right?
If you’re like me, when you began your solopreneur lifestyle you hoped to pursue your passion and have more freedom to do the things you love. So why the heck are you ruining it all by working yourself dry!? New businesses often require extra work, but this hustle and grind doesn’t have to become your way of life.
As solopreneurs, we often require things of ourselves that if any boss made you do, you’d quit fast.
Maybe that list of requirements looks something like this…
- Must check work email first thing in the morning before you get out of bed
- Must be willing to work all hours of the day/night
- Must skip lunch break and eat while working
- Must sacrifice friendships and hobbies I love
- Must text/email with clients at all hours of the day
- Must not take any weekends or vacation time off
That does NOT sound like a job I want to apply for! Would you? Sadly, this is often our mindset.
Sometimes we frame these things with the mentality that we “love it so much, so THAT’S why we do it.” But, friend, you were meant to have rest. You were meant to take breaks. You were meant to have hobbies and interests outside of your job.
Here are my top tips to treat yourself like you would want/expect a boss to treat you:
1. Set a beginning and end to your workday.
I’m not saying you HAVE to work from 8 to 5. You quit that life, so don’t be stuck in it if you don’t want to be. But, I do recommend time in the morning where work isn’t involved, taking breaks in the day to step away from your computer, and not working until you fall asleep.
Each day can (and probably will) look different. The goal is to set a start and end time for yourself each day and stick with it. What isn’t done today can (in most cases) wait until tomorrow.
See below for a “typical” work week for me. I say “typical” loosely, because the truth is life is crazy and things don’t always happen as planned. My husband often works at night, so it’s a pretty common thing for us to take a little time off in the afternoon to spend time together, and then I keep working in the evening. The difference is that when I do this it’s scheduled. I’m not so caught up in my work that I skip all meals and never see other humans all day.
My ideal schedule for the week!
And… Turn work OFF when you aren’t working.
I can’t even begin to count the times I have been at the gym working out and decide to read a distracting email push notification and stop my workout to deal with it. Many times I would just leave the gym early because I decide that I don't have time to workout because I need to work right then instead. The truth is, those messages should have waited until I was back at my office. Turn your phone’s email notifications off either ALL the time or at least when you’re off the clock.
This was a game changer for me. Now, I keep my push notifications for email off 100% of the time, and I mostly only check emails during my work hours.
Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Setting on your iPhone.
For the love of all things, use your iPhone’s do not disturb setting! Mine is set to automatically go into “do not disturb” from 7pm to 7:30 am. This means that any messages/notifications not from people in my “favorites” won’t cause my phone to vibrate/ring during those hours. And speaking of the gym in #2, I also use do not disturb every time I work out.
To set up an automated “do not disturb,” go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Turn on “Scheduled,” and set up your times. You can allow calls from your favorites and allow calls if someone calls more than once. Pretty great, right?!
2. Create business perks for yourself.
I love it when I see cool job perks like…
- Money towards continuing education
- Half work days on Friday during the summer
- Weekly Happy Hours
- Long Parental Leaves
- Unlimited vacation days
The truth is, when you’re self-employed, you can really do any of this IF you plan your business in life in such a way to make it work.
Here are a couple ideas for how you could add some major job perks into your solopreneur life:
- Only work ½ days in the summer - spend the second half of the day doing something that fuels you!
- Set aside a specific amount of money each year in your business to invest in your continued education.
- Once a week, stop work a little early and hit happy hour with a friend.
- Work outside, by the pool, in a coffee shop… whatever, but switch up your work environment.
- Once a month, take a day off from typical work and have a day of solitude.
- Take more vacations with friends and family, and work from your vacation destination.
3. Invest in yourself & your education.
Continued education makes you both a better employee and a better boss! But, no one is going to save up for that dream conference except you. Even setting aside just $50-$100 a month of your income to go toward education is huge! Hello, $50 a month is $600 in one year.
Plus, education is tax deductible. (Yay savings!)
However, sometimes it’s not even about investing your money… It’s about investing your TIME. So far in my career, I have yet to spend a dime on education, but I'm saving up. But, at least once a week I watch, listen and read FREE education such as podcasts, blogs, and webinars/trainings.
4. Don’t find your identity in your business.
As humans, we struggle with finding worth in our career. This is magnified when we are in an industry where we ARE the business, the face, and the brand. It can be a fine line where the business begins and ends in life when your work feels like an extension of YOU. After all, we are pouring our hearts and souls into what we do! It definitely feels like a part of us, beacause it is! But, if our entire self-worth is tied to our business, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
You are SO much more than your business. I challenge you to create time to disconnect from your work. Find new hobbies, friendships, ways to give back, and ways to love your family well. Don't let who you are get lost in your work.
Now for the good stuff... applying it to our lives!
Get out a notebook and pen and answer these questions…
1. What would my dream workday (or work week) look like? What steps can I take to create this?
2. Where in my life is my work stepping in where it doesn’t belong? How can I fix this?
3. What would be my dream job perks? How can I add some of these perks to my work week?
4. What type of education would help me grow my business? (after brainstorming, get out your computer and research conferences, workshops, and webinars that match your education goals!)
5. Who are you besides your business? What new hobbies and interests would you enjoy pursuing?