…DON’T. WATCH. MORNING. TV.
There isn’t a question I dread more from a taxi driver/fellow wedding guest/general stranger, than ‘So what do you do?’ Now of course I understand that this query comes from a good place of general interest and isn’t designed to catch me out, but despite what my job these days actually is, I’m not someone who likes to talk about myself that much. I know, I have no idea how I ended up here either. Given the nature of an internet job, I completely understand the interrogation-like questioning that usually follows my answer, but on the way to the airport this week a kind driver simply replied with ‘Good for you!’, when he asked and I answered with how long I’ve done this for. I’ve blogged and made YouTube videos as my full-time job for six years now and his sweet reply made me realise that that’s a darn long time, especially in an industry that’s still so new and fledging.
I love what I do and constantly count my lucky stars that I get to call this my job. One thing I have learnt from it though, is that even if it all went down the pan tomorrow I’d still like to work for myself if possible. The ‘being your boss’ thing is completely my crack and is something that over the years I’ve become more and more comfortable with as I’ve found my feet. Now it’s something I’m not sure I’d ever want to give up. So today I’m rounding up my top tips that I’ve learnt through this whole experience for the self-employed contingent, or just a peep through the keyhole for you nosey lot…
The Boring Stuff. It’s dry, often confusing and pretty expensive, but getting professional advice on how to set-up your business, is the best thing you can do when working for yourself. I’ll never forget my Dad traipsing me down to my Accountant’s when I got my first cheque from YouTube (It was £66 and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to cash in a cheque! I did in my lunch-break at work and I won’t ever forget that moment), and the whole set-up cost more money than I’d ever made through blogging and YouTube at the time. LOLZ – thanks Dad! But it was 100% the right thing to do and these days it’s a service that I’m always more than happy to pay the invoice for, because having the financial side of the business taken care of by people who know what they’re doing, takes such a large workload off my plate. If numbers really aren’t your style, a bookkeeper can be a great investment too; as they bridge the gap between you and your accountant – keeping a closer eye on invoices and expenses and leaving even less for you to do with the financials, freeing up more time for you to focus on the ‘getting shit done’ side of your business.
Establish a Routine. This idea won’t work for everyone, as there may be some businesses and some people who like to keep things more free and easy with their timings and workload, but personally I love a bit of routine in my day. It helps me to feel organised in what I do, which in turn helps to keep me relaxed and stress-free. At the very least I’d suggest setting your alarm for the same time every morning and aiming to close up your laptop at the same time every evening and leaving the house once a day (more on that below). I’m spinning the plates of a fair amount of projects these days, so it’s not always possible, but where it is I like the idea of doing certain tasks on certain days. For example, I quite like to get any scheduling, errands and big emails done on a Monday. I usually find myself filming videos on a Friday afternoon as that keeps me busy during my biggest procrastination peak of the week. Then if I have any high priority tasks I like to get them done in the mornings as that’s when I’m at my most efficient. It’s not rigid and it has to have a certain degree of flexibility worked into it, but setting up working hour parameters at the least, helps you to find harmony between your work and your home.
Your Energy Reserves. This is a good idea to think about whether you work for yourself, or someone else; but it’s working out how and where you get your energy from. Do you feel like it gets recharged when you’re in full-on relaxation mode, or do you feel it creeping up when you socialise with friends. I’m someone who loves to be social – a right chatterbox me – however I gain my energy in introverted ways whenever I’m on my own. So when I look at my schedule I know that I need to find both time with others, and time on my own to regain my energy in equal measures. Working for yourself means that there’s always a bit of pressure on your to be in tip-top condition when it comes to motivation, so spend some time picking apart this idea of where it is that you gain your energy for work from, and add it into your routine as much as possible.
LEAVE. THE. HOUSE. Ever since we moved back to Brighton three years ago now, I make sure that I leave the house every single day. When we lived in London I was TERRIBLE at this and often went stretches of three days just within the same open-plan one bed flat and it sent me a little round the bend. Back then I thought that adding any break time into my day meant that I was wasting time, but actually all I was doing was wasting time epically every afternoon when I’d procrastinate for two hours. The act of psychically leaving the house gives you a slap in the face of fresh air which instantly revives you and gives you a chance to focus on something else – whether it be for 10 minutes, or an hour. I either go to a Pilates class, or leave to do errands every single day and I’m a better, more productive person because of it.
Enjoy the Benefits. I can hand on my heart say that over the past six years I have taken way less than my 28 days holiday that I’d have in your average job. Partly because I love what I do so my work trickles pretty much into every day of the week; whether I’m at my desk or away, and partly because I’m a one-girl-band, so if I’m not getting a task done – no one else is. In the early years this hustle is completely understandable and taking time completely off may not be financially feasible. But when you think that it’s possible to take a week away and leave your laptop at home – DO IT. It’s only in the past two years that I’ve felt comfortable to do this and it’s made all the difference in how I approach my work and the balance between it and my life outside of what I do. Heck, I took almost a month off for my honeymoon over December and it was GLORIOUS. The break made me excited for my return and I was able to pick things up from where I left off, just with added spring in my step. Now taking a whole month off in one go every year isn’t on the cards for me, but I am trying to factor more ‘proper time-off’ holidays into my calendar these days and I’m trying to be a bit more flexible with my working hours. It might not always be this way, so I’m making the most of it and trying to lean into reaping the rewards of my current role. Have the morning coffee with your mate! Clock off early for drinks and just start earlier tomorrow! It’s your honeymoon? Take off as long as you can! We could always be doing more, but we’ll do it even better if we’re happy, relaxed and well-rested.
Photos by Emma Croman
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