I can’t believe it’s been a year since turning away from the corporate world! I have zero regrets. Defining my own schedule from day to day feels like the new normal, and I’m committed to keeping this going.
However, it’s fair to say that I brought a lot of unresolved baggage back with me from Corporate America, and the public school system before that. Aside from putting the finishing touches on my novel(s), I’ve been working to identify and address those issues, which has helped me become a happier, less anxious person.
Looking back on my old “what I’ve learned” notes, here are some things I can add to past recommendations and observances:
Defining a new routine is still important.
Like most self-employed, I fell into the trap of feeling like I could, or should, be on the clock all the time. After all, I was now working on my passion, right? It didn’t feel like work (mostly), and I had the time- why not be working?
This is the quick path to burnout and resentment. Instead, figure out when your work hours are. What’s your ideal time of day for working, and how long can you keep at it before your brain gives out? For me, it’s 8AM – 12PM, with occasional breaks in between to stretch and let my mind wander. Yeah, I realize that’s not a “full” 8-hour day. Screw that. During those four hours, I tend to have my nose to the grindstone, and get more done than I would’ve in a full day at my former office.
Once I get to 12PM, I’m done with work that day. If I choose to work beyond that, it’s overtime. Usually, though, I don’t. I spend the rest of my day on chores, reading, and play- i.e. stuff I do just for the fun of it. Play time is just as important as work time, and shouldn’t be ignored!
Likewise, it’s good to give yourself weekends- one or two days a week when you do no work at all, allowing your brain to recharge. And when you finish a big project, a longer break is warranted.
Checking in on goals and todos is still important.
Not just to ensure you stay on track. In truth, the plan always needs amending. I’ve learned I’m horrible at estimating how long it will take me to do something. I also find priorities shifting and disappearing constantly, as Life throws curveballs.
I’ve also found it’s easier (and more satisfying) to stick to one thing, and see it through, rather than trying to take baby steps on 1000 things at once.
Giving yourself little rewards and/or visible signs of progress is also important for feeling like you’re getting somewhere. This could be something as simple as a checklist or burndown chart you post on your wall, and update as tasks get done. In Scrivener, my favored word processing tool, I’ve taken to marking all of my incomplete scenes with a red flag icon. When I finish the scene, I get to remove the flag.
Being your own dream boss and cheerleader is SUPER important.
Over the past year, I learned I’m not my own dream boss- at least, I wasn’t. I tended to be overly demanding and self-critical, angry at myself when I couldn’t stick to my own arbitrary timetables. My inner voice, quite frankly, was a nagging slave-driver.
I’ve worked on revising that- developing an inner voice who’s laid-back, encouraging, and doesn’t get pissed off when things don’t go as planned. Let me tell you, this boss is a lot easier to work for, and has eased my anxiety considerably.
The Money Front
Still not a millionaire ;) But my income has gone up since my promotion to Editor at The Daily WTF. I now make roughly $260/month. Enough to cover a couple of bills, not enough for self-sufficiency. I’m still relying heavily on my husband’s income, and the savings that Past Me socked away during her corporate career.
The good news is that financially, we’re on about the same ground that we were last year, just prior to leaving our jobs. We’ve bought another year off- and we’re more than happy to take it!