Running your own business can be overwhelming, it can be hard work and feel like, well… that work is never actually finished! It’s OK to long for freedom and time for yourself though, because when you’re being really honest; Didn’t you actually start your own business because you longed for freedom?
If you don’t need any convincing why you need time for yourself (or are too busy), feel free to skip to the bottom part where I’m sharing my best tips.
Once upon a time (and yes, this does sound like a fairy tale to a whole lot of business owners) you did think running your own business would bring you way more freedom than working in a cubicle from 9 to 5.
What’s amazing is this: That is not a fairy tale. Your business can bring you so. much. freedom. Not just the week after a successful launch. Not when you finally hit that certain amount of subscribers. And let’s be honest here, you may have taken a day or two off after hitting your goals before you started worrying about your next move. I know I did!
Right after finishing another big project, right after that successful launch, the first thing on my mind wasn’t that I was going to enjoy some time off. Almost right away I started worrying again about my next project and before I knew, it wasn’t taking any time off at all. I felt like I was constantly chasing something new instead of taking it all in and, most of all, taking care of myself.
Luckily, freedom in your own business can be achieved right now.
The one who controls the agenda, controls free time
After all, YOU are the one who controls the agenda, right? You get to decide when you work. There’s literally no one else who does that for you. You might be used to the idea of working really hard and that more is better, but you know what, we’re all here on earth to actually have a good time. To enjoy life. And life is what happens now, in this moment.
Making the switch from workaholic to a freedom bonanza doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply take your agenda and make room for… YOURSELF.
Wow. Yes, it really is that simple. And you might know it is, but the real question is: do you take action on that? Do you plan time for yourself? Or do you plan for work, work, more work, some family time, appointments, other scheduled activities, household work and then perhaps, when there is still some time left: time for you…?
Yeah, that doesn’t sound so healthy or productive. I mean, who will run your business, who will take care of your family in the way only you can when you stop functioning well? And when will you get those amazing ideas or get hit with bursts of inspiration like you do when you’re relaxing?
My best tips to plan for freedom
Let’s bring your agenda to the table and start planning that you time you need. You will thank yourself for it and your business will thank you for it as well.
1. Reschedule (and cancel) some appointments
Start by looking at your appointments. Which ones are absolutely VITAL? Those are the ones you want to keep, make a list and try to find a way to reschedule those to certain days of the week. When you’re in appointment mode, you can do those pretty much back to back, while taking into account any prep time needed.
Which appointments are unnecessary? You know the ones I’m talking about. The appointments that simply don’t help you bring your business forward, the ones you dread going to because you don’t see the point, the ones that absolutely do not spark any joy whatsoever. If you were waiting for permission from someone, here it is: you can cancel those appointments without feeling guilty. You wouldn’t do anyone a favor anyway when you’re not bringing your best to an appointment.
What’s left are the ‘grey area’ appointments. You’re not quite sure if they should happen, they might be beneficial but they might as well be not. That’s ok! You can absolutely learn from these and use them to develop your gut feeling about these kinds of situations. Maybe you can switch to a phone call instead of a real-life meeting – that will easily save you an hour of time you would otherwise spend getting dressed, travelling, parking, etc.
2. Always set an end time
You know that moment where you feel like the conversation is done but it feels too awkward to end up and leave or hang up the phone? After which you end up talking about nothing important for way too long while thinking of the chores you wanted to do, that big project, a workout or that nice long bath you wanted to take.
Sounds all too familiar to me! That’s why I usually tell people at what time I need to leave again, either when I make the appointment or when the appointment begins. It makes people aware that your time is valuable and that they better make the most of it within the time they have. When you feel like the conversation is too interesting to leave at the set time, you can always decide to stay a little longer, that’s up to you.
What or who is your absolute number one top priority? You guessed it; YOU are. Yes, you. Not your clients, not your kids (really, I know you love them and would move mountains for them), not your husband. It’s you.
Because without a well-functioning, healthy, energetic you, you wouldn’t be able to take care of the other important stuff as well as you can.
Keep that in mind when you look at your agenda. Plan the time you need for yourself first, then build the other things around that. Take the time you need, because well.. you need it!
4. Divide your time into blocks
I know, you’re the kind of person who works when you get hit by inspiration or when it feels good. Or… do you work mostly when you feel like you HAVE to because you put it off for too long? Or because you won’t get enough things done if you don’t keep working all the time?
That’s the thing. Your time is valuable, yet you also need time to relax, rewind, get some rest, do something fun, nourish yourself.
The only way you can make that time is when you stop working all. the. time. Just stop.
Make a list of your most productive times during the week and keep those for working. You’ll be able to get most things done during that time.
There are always so many moments where you’re working, but not quite. You have Pinterest open on the side (for ‘inspiration’, sure…), you keep checking your e-mail, you’re not really focused and you wish you would be more productive. Do yourself a favor and stop wasting that time. You’re not doing your business a favor and it doesn’t help you personally either.
Make time for YOU and make time for work. Just try it! You’ll probably start to notice being more productive during work time and relaxing more during you-time. Not willing to divide your agenda into blocks of time? That’s ok too, as long as you stop working when you feel your focus decreasing. There will always be another moment where you can work productively and it will be there sooner than you think.
This is a hard one for many, but necessary for most. There are always a couple of tasks you do not like (at all), you dread starting, you keep postponing and when you finally do them you feel drained afterwards.
Have an honest conversation with yourself: do these tasks REALLY need to be done? If not, stop doing them.
If they do, look into a way to delegate them to someone else. Yes, it costs money to hire someone, but look at how much more work you enjoy and attracts customers you would be able to do in the time you now spend dreading and postponing these tasks.
For me, it started with hiring a bookkeeper. I would literally cry over my bookkeeping and postpone it by Netflixing, eating and more for at least a week. Doing my taxes stressed me out big time! Yes, there were some money blocks involved, but I was also so afraid I was making mistakes and would get hunted down by the tax department and they would then give me huge fines that I wouldn’t be able to pay, etc, etc. Realistic? No. Stressful? YES! Hiring a bookkeeper helped me keep track of my finances in a healthy way, without the stress.
The same thing happened with customer service in my previous business, I felt completely sucked dry after answering all those e-mails and it kept me from creating more valuable content for my customers. Hence I took the step to hire someone who would answer my e-mails with the love and attention my customers deserved.
These are my best tips to start planning for freedom in business.
- Reschedule (and cancel) some appointments
- Always set an end time
- Divide your time into blocks
And don’t forget, when that one brilliant idea hits you and you just KNOW in your gut you should share it with your followers: Go for it! Share it. It will feel good to get it out and it will help you serve your clients.
You don’t have to tie yourself to a chair and force yourself not to work. As long as you take inspired action and rest when you need it, you’ll feel so much more free.
With which do you struggle most? And don’t forget to tell me what you’re going to do with all that time that’s left for YOU!