I was just about to come here and write a post about how I’m all sick and hopped up on cold meds and can’t focus enough to write a blog post. And then I open my calendar and what do I find? A half-written post about self care when you run your own business. What a perfect topic for today!
When you are a freelancer, and especially a creative, it’s important to set rules and boundaries for yourself and your business to keep your sanity and continue to love your job every day. Ignoring the rules and saying yes to everything may earn you a one-way ticket to burnout city, which is the last place you want to be when it’s your responsibility to pay the bills.
So, here are a few of my rules for keeping myself and my business going strong…
1. I set strict boundaries for the days I do not work or have meetings. For me, that’s Sunday and Monday since I teach aerial classes on Saturday. I may work, but I will not work for anyone else.
2. I don’t answer emails or requests at night. (hint: turn off email notifications so they only come in when you want them to) I don’t stop working at the same time every day, but generally if an email comes in after 6pm I won’t be attending to it until the next day. Patience is a virtue.
3. I schedule everything. Interruptions and requests come in all day long. I rarely stop what I’m doing to answer an email or meet up with someone. (Unless you want to meet up for ice cream, then I’m definitely available) Everything goes into my schedule. You want to meet with me – I’m available on Thursday afternoon. This is not me being difficult or inflexible, it’s me understanding the amount of work I take on and knowing the best way to handle everything.
4. I don’t say yes to everything. I’m all for saying yes and trying new things and getting out of your comfort zone, but sometimes a request comes in and my gut just says, “Nope.” And so I say nope too…nicely. You can always turn down projects by saying, “I don’t think this is the right project for me. You might find another designer at ________.”
5. And lastly, like today when I’m totally sick, I clear out my schedule, ignore everything, and take care of myself. I do a couple little things here and there because I love it and I can’t help myself. But I take sick days as a damn good reason to have some time off and not feel guilty for ignoring my email.