In the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about how I work, how I want to work, and how I play. And now that I’m freelance, the difference between my time on the clock and time off has become a little bit blurry (all you freelancers and small business owners out there, I know you feel me). To ensure I maintain a healthy work/life balance, I’ve created a few guidelines to keep myself on track and help me run my business without feeling like I’m being run by my business. These are principles I believe in and am constantly reminding myself of. I find them helpful and I hope you will, too.
If you want others to respect your time, you need to respect your time. When you’re at the helm of your business, its success relies on you, and it’s all too easy to cave into the pressure or doing everything for everyone– everyone except yourself. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to give your personal life the TLC it needs; all you need to do is declare when you’re unavailable, and then disappear (for real, put the phone down!). If you’re like me and don’t believe in answering emails on the weekend, let your clients know. If you take a yoga class in the mornings or take Fridays off in the summer, let people know. And when they call on a Friday, don’t answer. You’ll be surprised by how often the world will wait for you. You’ll also be surprised by how nice it feels to take the time to focus on yourself.
Manage expectations. Like all relationships, the key to a successful business relationship is to manage expectations. Tell your clients when you’ll deliver the goods and then do it. Be realistic about what and when you’ll deliver and you’ll never let your clients down. Similarly, tell people when you need things from them and hold them accountable. This will help you feel in control of your business relationships and allow you to produce better work on time and with minimal stress.
Say yes. I say yes to many opportunities that come my way. You want me to give a talk about social media at your networking event? Okay! You want me to snap some photos for an article you’re writing? Absolutely! You want me to be a brand ambassador for your clothing line? Great, tell me more! Be open to new experiences, new projects, and new adventures, they can lead to fantastic places.
But say no, too. As it sometimes goes when you jump at a new opportunity, you realize the initial offer was a lot sweeter than the nitty gritty details. Perhaps the payment you’re being offered for the set of photos will be “a link in the article” when the guy writing the article is being paid with, you know, real money. Or maybe the brand you’ll be representing struggles to email you back in a timely manner which makes you question whether they can actually deliver the important things, like inventory. In these situations where the integrity of your work is being negatively effected, your standards are not being met, and you’re compromising and feeling uneasy, by all means say NO. It will be difficult, but it’ll be so much better for you in the long run. Trust.
- Remember, everyone is busy. When you’re feeling under pressure and need something done, it’s all too easy to send a frantic email and ask for it Now, right now! But, before you hit send, ask yourself how you’d feel receiving that email. Remember, all of us are busy. We all have lives, worries, goals, and external pressures. In these moments of stress, take a deep breath and remember to be respectful of others and their time. Especially if you want them to be respectful of yours.
So here’s what I’m proposing: Let’s create a positive feedback loop of mutual respect and consideration so we can all create comfortable and happy work environments. I don’t care if you’re a freelancer, start-up entrepreneur, CEO or secretary, let’s be open with our communication, honest and respectful. Who’s with me?
>>> If you want some extra organisation tips for running your business, check out these 8 Gmail Features You Should Be Using by Jessica Sutton. I’m a huge fan of Boomerang, which is perfect for sending 12:30 AM emails at 10:00AM, instead.