How Planning Your Ideal Day Can Help You Avoid Overworking

If you’re a small business owner, you’re likely to be familiar with the word “grind.” Owning a small business is hard work. You don’t need me to tell me that. Especially if you’re striving to support yourself or a family through your work, you work hard to meet your needs. Today I want to suggest an exercise that can help you take a look at your work life without being caught in the hustle. By planning your ideal work day, you can avoid overworking. How? Let’s jump in and I’ll show you:

How Much Do You Want to Work?

Though it might feel frivolous, especially if you’re used to long hours or a tight schedule, go ahead and ask yourself this question. It’s important to keep a vision in mind. Especially so if you’re self-employed, because you’re the boss! So, would like to work 25 hours a week? 6 hours a day? Think about the other facets of your life – how could you find balance?

Now, compare this with how much you are currently working. There’s probably a difference. Start thinking about ways to close the gap.

Your Schedule Bone Is Connected to Your Pricing Bone

I love this saying from Ariane Trelaun, a fellow bookkeeper and self-described business witch. The point she puts across here is that how much you need to work is directly connected to how much you charge for that work. So, if you need to work 60 hours a week at the rate you’re charging now, imaging upping that rate by a couple bucks. Maybe you could ease back to 40 instead! Doing this math requires being aware of your expenses, and setting income goals based on them.

Try taking a look at your expenses, and how much you’d like to work. Ask yourself, “How much do I need to charge to work that amount?” Doing so can bring you more awareness of why you work as much as you do, and how you can start to limit that. For more thoughts on considering what you make as a business owner, check out this article.

Business, Not Busy-ness

It’s important to note that beyond income needs, there are many other reasons why we might find it difficult to put a cap on our work hours. Many people use work as a coping mechanism, or pride themselves on long hours. Being busy is not a badge of honor. In the long run, busying yourself with your business can lead to solopreneur burnout and a lack of fulfillment in your business. The more you choose to set up your business in a restorative way now, the more it will serve you down the road.

I hope this exercise helps you think through the way you’re structuring your work schedule, and encourages you to find ways out of overwork patterns! If you’d like some personalized help with any of this, please check out my services and schedule a discovery call.

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Angela

Image: Slava Keyzman

Solopreneur Spotlight: Jennifer Graham On Coping With Business Changes During COVID-19

Jennifer Graham made a number of pivots in her business to adapt to COVID-19. While we discussed her business strategies last week, this week I want to highlight the emotional strategies she discussed with me. Being a business owner during this time has been hard on many of us, and the thoughts she shared about taking care of her own wellbeing were full of insights we can all use. Taking care of our emotions allows us to be smarter with our finances, so I believe prioritizing our feelings during this time is key to preserving our businesses.

Acknowledging Grief

The first thing Jennifer mentioned doing once shelter in place went into effect, was acknowledging and holding the grief that came along with it. In addition to all the other abrupt changes, Jennifer lost a lot of photoshoot work, and experienced a total change-up in her calendar. Many people have been experiencing grief during this period, and Jennifer took time to acknowledge and care for hers.

Taking Care

During our interview, Jennifer brought up a couple other practices that have helped her take better care emotionally. First, she said making a practice of acknowledging her feelings, and asking herself “What would bring you joy right now?” has helped her stay centered. Sometimes that might be stepping away from her work to nap or take a walk, and she allows herself to do that. She also mentioned that really acknowledging the work she is doing has been helpful. Many people are currently describing their days as blurs, so perhaps this practice can help remedy that feeling.

Lastly, she mentioned working with a team of people, namely her therapist, business coach, and myself, as being particularly helpful during this time. I’ve written a few articles about how relying on a money team or money buddy can ease the decision making process and alleviate hard times. It’s great to see that Jennifer is leaning on others when it comes to making decisions for her business.

Making Space for Ideas

All this emotional self-care is part of what made it possible for Jennifer to adapt her offerings to current conditions. She relayed to me that “about 3 weeks in, the ideas just started coming,” and from there she was able to create new services that were shelter-in-place-compliant. This nimble and creative thinking is especially valuable at a time like this. Because Jennifer is able to acknowledge her feelings and tend to them, she has more mental space available when it’s time to get to work.

You can read part one of this series on Jennifer’s business here, and watch the full video interview too. You can also visit her site, her Facebook page, and her Instagram feed to learn more about what she offers. If you’re interested in a guide for business owners on adapting COVID-19, my Cash Flow Reboot Guide is available for a free download here.

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Angela