How I’m Learn To Take a Step Back & Chill The ‘F’ Out

…and basically not be classic Virgo.

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to work out that I identify with a fair amount of ‘Type A’ personality traits. Competitive? Yes. Ambitious? Sorta. Highly organised and aware of time management? I mean, I literally wrote a book on it. However over the past 12 months I’ve really noticed a big shift in how I work and operate and actually I think I’m more ‘Type B’ these days than ever before. A little more relaxed, a little less frantic and just have generally taken the stress-levels down a notch.

So what’s changed? Well that’s what I’m hoping to detangle in today’s post. It might be long and it’s probably going to be 80% waffle, but things have developed – in a good way – and I thought it might be helpful to share for those who also feel the need to loosen their tight grip on their daily schedule too. Now I’m not talking about stepping back here literally, oh no, more just an appreciation for team work and flexibility that have both taught me a lot about how to step back mentally and roll with the punches a little more, instead of being stuck in my pretty lonesome and rigid schedule. Need to break out? Here’s how I did it and had one of my best years yet career-wise.

My big learning point of 2018 was definitely flexibility. Now sometimes it’s an advantage to have more of a strict routine in place. I wouldn’t say that I was too rigid with my schedule per se, and having consistent uploading times for blog posts and videos and certain days that my photographer Emma comes over and days where meetings in London work best into my week, has aided things over the years. It gives some structure into my days of working for myself and without it I’m not sure I’d be able to reach a level of consistency when it comes to uploading content – and that’s a good thing.

This routine that I’d built for myself was quite frankly, tossed into the bin last year. BOOM. In one swift sweep off it went as the rollercoaster journey that is writing a book, landed on my work pile. It shook up everything. Of course I’d made a plan at the beginning of the year. I thought that book writing would nearly slot into days of a week, so I could spend the other sorting out a video for each week, one day dedicated to blog post writing and then the final day travelling up to London for meetings or taking photos for the blog – with the idea of alternating that each week. Heck – I even had a ‘Week A’ and ‘Week B’ plan. LOLZ. Did it work out as I’d planned? Not. At. All.

It turns out that writing a book is not a task that neatly slots into two days. Oh no! It spreads all over your week, especially when you take into account providing feedback on the cover, inner design, the edits, the marketing strategy, ideas for the launch – the whole shebang. Some weeks I had to knuckle down on videos to get ahead before travelling, or I was über behind on blog posts, and no book work got done at all. I was constantly having to juggle my time and flit between tasks and generally be about 1856 times more flexible that I’d ever been before.

This lesson in flexibility is still being taught to me currently as I embark on a 17-date ‘An Edited Life‘ book tour which has meant that I won’t have a full-week at my desk until the end of March and you know what? It’s so cool. Early 2018 me would have found the idea of not having long stretches at home to get ahead with all my content extremely stressful, but these days I’m more up for the idea of fitting work in wherever and whenever I can. Last year I wrote my book on trains, in hotel rooms, on holiday and this year I’m writing and editing my videos on trains, in hotel rooms and on holiday and you know what, it works. Being a little less rigid with my working routine and a little less tough on myself at trying to constantly be so far ahead with scheduling has allowed me space to do this fab tour and still keep the work wheel turning at the same time, without getting too het up about it – and that’s definitely a good thing.

The other thing that was really weighing me down was the fact that I hadn’t worked as part of a team in the classical sense for yonks. It’s been over six years since I left my job to go full-time with blogging and so working on a project from beginning to end with a team of people all having input into it, just hasn’t been something that I’ve partaken in for a long while. The lone-ranger lifestyle actually works out pretty well for me; partly because I’m a perfectionist who hates to delegate (such a fab quality to have – I jest, I jest) and partly because I quite enjoy my own space and working alone (again – don’t I sound like such a catch?).

However, working as part of a team can be a brilliant thing. It can teach you a lot about yourself and others and ultimately by relying on other people who have far greater experience in areas where you don’t have any, the end product is all the better for it. Now you know where I’m going here, but writing the book was a project where a brilliant crew of women all mucked in. Writing the text was all on me, but it wouldn’t have been a patch on what the end product is without feedback from my fabulous Editor. I wouldn’t have even got a book deal in the first place if it wasn’t for my Book Agent holding my hand throughout the proposal process. The design process was brilliantly collaborative between myself and the Book Designer and we’re both over the moon with how it turned out. And then the book wouldn’t have ever made a splash without my PR ladies who have both worked their absolute asses off to promote it. Ultimately these woman all have knowledge in areas where I don’t and without them the book just wouldn’t be what it is today.

I had to learn to put my trust in others, be thorough in my communication so that everyone was on the same page, be honest with feedback and ultimately be cool with the fact that it was a team effort – something that I haven’t done, especially on this kind of scale, for ages. It was really, really great. And not only do I have a book out that I am so ridiculously proud of, I’m so grateful for the amazing process and the women who made it happen.

Here’s to learning to chill the f-out a bit, growing and learning and most importantly – girl power. 

Photos by Emma Croman

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