Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homework, Lesson Three: Schedules Are Not Just For Trains

I think a lot of us who are working for ourselves, from home, are drawn to it partly because we all imagine that we'll be free as birds, able to do what we want to, when we want to do it.

Pardon me while I kill myself laughing.

Because here's what really happens; work is often erratic, especially in a growing business and a difficult economy. When the opportunities to work crop up, you'll grab them. For an online retail business, what this means is some days with no orders, where you bite your nails and wonder if you're doing everything wrong, and some days with so many orders that you work up a sweat trying to get the boxes packed.

If you're lucky, the cash flow averages out at a point where you can make the rent payment. It's likely to be some months a bit over and some a bit short, just to make life really really exciting.

Your workday will be at the mercy of the weather, the number and duration of walks the dog thinks he needs, the amount of laundry that's gotten backlogged, the incoming orders, the upcoming shows, and the availability of supplies. You will have moments of overwhelming success followed by crushing bouts of self-doubt and visions of living on the street.

There is only one way to maintain sanity in the middle of all this.

Make a schedule. I know, you quit so you didn't have to adhere to a schedule, but guess what? You now have the toughest boss on the planet, and it's YOU. You'll work harder for yourself than you ever have for another person. Want to cope with this terrible boss?

I know. It's awful. Make a schedule.

You need to have times that you work, and times that you don't. Your family and friends need to know what your working hours are, so they don't assume that "working from home" means "available for annoying errands and social engagements". You need to pay attention, too, so that you don't decide that your morning would be best spent eating leftover pizza and watching "Revenge of the Nerds".

And your time off needs to be time spent NOT working. Just sneaking in a few minutes of printing labels turns into hours of work if you're not careful. And off time is an important thing - it keeps the creative juices flowing, prevents burnout, and makes you a lot more fun to be around.

Time off does not mean eating leftover pizza and watching "Revenge of the Nerds", by the way. It means getting your ass OUT OF THE HOUSE. Go somewhere, do something! If you work at home, getting a change of scenery is absolutely vital. Even a walk around the block is a start.

Now, why are you sitting here reading this? You should either be working or playing. Go!


innerearthsoaps said...

Have you been spying on me? lol. I can relate to everything in this post. Crippling self doubt vs moments of pure exhilaration? Check. Working when I should be having time off? Check.

Joanna said...


Dreaming Tree Soapworks said...

This is us to a T!... But then you try to make a schedule...and then life gets in the way!


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