Yesterday I sent an email to my mailing list talking about procrastination. (Ya know, the reason you’re reading this post instead of doing actual work. Yeah, I’m on to you!) It was all about why we do it, how to get around it, and what to do instead. And while I was writing that email, I started to think about how guilty I end up feeling after an hour (or a day…or a week) of not doing what I should be doing and how we treat ourselves as employees. Because even though we’re the ones running the show, technically we’re our own employee.
And then I started thinking that if my only employee was not myself, but someone I had hired, how would I treat them and how would I want them to feel about working for me?
I’d want them to feel excited about work, supported, and motivated every single day, so I would . . .
- Make sure they got away from their computer for lunch especially after years at my corporate job eating at my desk, one hand shoveling Cheez-Its in my mouth, the other continuing to type.
- Make sure they knew exactly what their job was and why they were important to the company. Confession: I got fired from my very first job out of college because I didn’t really know what they wanted me to do, so the boss wasn’t happy with my work since he didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing either.
- Never make them feel guilty or put them down if a project got screwed up, went off-track, or was a complete failure. How many times have you beat yourself up over losing an email, forgetting a meeting, or launching something with a big fat typo on the first page?
Should you be sent to have a chat with HR over how you’re treating your one employee, who might I remind you, does EVERYTHING. Like, literally EVERY SINGLE THING to keep your business going?
It’s a lot easier to make these mistakes with ourselves of course because there is no consequence, no one to talk back, or question how we act. No one is going to run and tell your boss, “I totally forgot I had a Skype call scheduled and Sarah said I was an absolute idiot and I should just quit now because I’m going to be a total failure.” We force ourselves to work insane hours, skip lunch, never even consider a vacation, avoid the gym, and still expect flawless and brilliant work every single day. Reality check…you might be a terrible, mean, tyrant of a boss and you deserve better than that!
What sort of things are you skimping on that most businesses readily hand their employees??
- Do you give yourself vacation days?
- How are the benefits? Are you putting money into health insurance, a savings account, a 401k?
- What about a healthy living incentive? Do you have a fridge stocked with healthy snacks and schedule time to work out each week?
- Do you allow yourself a break to eat lunch? (Even retail employees get a 30 minute break and two 15 minute breaks for every eight hours on the clock)
- Do you start and stop working at a specific time each day? I’m not a person who EVER gets up at 8am, but I definitely try to start work around 10 or 11am and stop around 6 or 7pm.
- Do you have a mission? Every single company has a mission statement. (Google it :) This gives you a very clear purpose for your work. Having meaning and intention behind what you do every day is incredibly helpful in keeping up company morale.
- Are you putting too much work on your plate? What could you automate or hire out? How can you better distribute work throughout your day and week? (I’ve got a whole post about automating your blog or biz over here >>>)
- Is there a process for everything you do? Creating processes for client intake, for sending invoices, for customer support not only cuts down on the time a task takes, but also removes the stress of figuring it out every single time.
- Is there room for advancement? Yes, you’re the big boss, CEO, only person in charge, but you don’t want to be doing the same things you did in your first year of business in year five, right? And yes, advancement should include a raise :)
And so I give you…
An XO Sarah Guide to Being a Happy + Productive Solopreneur
- Be specific about what you do (what is your job title and what tasks do you do each day of the week aka a game plan)
- Get clear on what you want to accomplish with your business aka your mission statement
- Save 5 to 10 percent of your monthly income for retirement (emergencies, fun stuff too)
- Start and stop work at specific times each day and don’t forget that lunch break!
- Do something each month that makes you better at your job
- Have a long-term vision
- Plan for vacation time and use it to truly take a break from work
- Create processes and hire-out tasks so you have a reasonable amount of work on your plate each week
- Create monthly / yearly bonuses and incentives (yes, you can have a Christmas bonus when you’re self-employed)
- Praise and reward yourself for a job well done
- Be understanding and kind when you screw up (no swearing or generalizations allowed!)