I have a confession to make. No not about my handbag obsession; that is an addiction I know I won't cure.
I am struggling to break from the old routine, resulting in me carrying a millstone large enough for a bumper flourmill round my neck, and it's got to stop!
I have worked for someone since I graduated back in the 90s. (Note to self - go and see the Stone Roses movie) For a lot of the time that someone was the Government. I had a boss and he had a boss and he had a boss and he had a civil servant or a Public Accounts Committee to report to. I had KPIs and a performance review. In the heady olden days I even got a bonus. Actually, that's probably where the handbag obsession started...
But back to the point.
I had a nice safe framework, looking back it was almost like being a battery-hen or a robot. I was given a task, or a problem to solve, a pot of cash and a deadline. If I did it all ok, on time and on budget I got a reward. And I had lots of bosses to ensure I stayed on task and the threat of disciplinary action if I stepped outa line.
Don't get me wrong, I worked bloody hard, the work I did won awards and one campaign was even mentioned in Parliament but I had a linear trail I stuck to.
Now I don't have the routine. I don't have a boss. I do have lovely clients and we are adding to that merry band very nicely thank you very much. But I don't have that robotic life where my alarm goes off at stupid-o-clock and I turn up at the same place, working on one thing, put my 40+ hours in and go home. I am my work and my work is me.
I love it but it is a very alien concept that is taking me a while to get used to: I am the boss.
I was warned setting up on my own is a very different beast, people told me about the long hours and the networking needed, the gamut of new skills I would need. But no one told me that the clocking-in card mechanism within me would short circuit and the guilt from that would be deafening.
I am programmed to work 0830 - 1730 Monday to Friday. Outside those hours, unless I was on call, the shutters were down and I was 'off' but my new business isn't shaped like that and as well as needing to work some evenings I am being pulled by sunshine and invites for lunch.
To combat the guilt and capitalise on the freedom running a business brings I have put a few things in place.
- I am clocking my hours
- I have become a to-do-list queen
- I am book-ending one or two days a week with meetings, setting up an 0930 and a 1600 where possible
- I have asked a business contact to be a mentor.
But the most important one is that I am chilling the hell out. My clients are happy, the work our agency is delivering is first-class, I am learning all the time, I am the happiest I have ever been.
And with that she packs up her bag and heads out, for a long lunch by the river... and one of those 4pm meetings. Now that's work life balance in action!