I had lunch with a friend yesterday who quit her corporate job some months ago and has done incredible things traveling to exotic locales and working her tail off while coordinating volunteers to help get Obama elected, (see her post about it today on Daily Kos). But now the real world has set in and she is looking for that next thing. Having taken that plunge myself very many years ago, I was giving her advise. You see it is always so much easier to tell other people what to do. My friend has a blog, Look Don’t Leap, and she was going to document her year off and how it would take her to the next big thing… whatever that was. Only it hasn’t quite worked out how she thought. There is a lot of down time.
As I see it anytime a person makes a big change like quitting their job, retiring, getting laid off or whatever… It is a mixed bag. There are times that it is really exciting and things are happening a mile a minute and they are your things, your projects, your interests , not just some work mandated by your employer. So in that way its very exciting. And then, the project ends, you have a lull in the work coming in, client load down or whatever and boom…. you find yourself blogging in your pajamas at 10:45 in the morning and you haven’t even brushed your teeth.
We talked at lunch about the various strategies we used during those quieter times to keep the ball rolling and how it is harder to blog about your life when between things. Me and my big advise giving self was telling her that I thought people really do want to hear about all of what goes on, even the minutia, just like the stuff we had just been talking about. In fact, that it is some of that stuff that is even more interesting to the voyeur in all of us. The good thing about giving people unsolicited advise is that sometimes I listen and end up taking it myself. I realized that I haven’t really talked about that stuff on my blog. And I’d love to hear what other people do when not having to go to a JOB bright and early every day.
So here goes… I am in my pajamas ( well it is really cold outside with ice in the pond which we are not prepared for here in Atlanta), it is now 12:14 and I am still in my pajamas and have not brushed my teeth. (I did feed the dogs and eat two eggs over easy with a piece of glutton free toast and a cup of coffee with skim milk.) I have learned a couple of things that help me as an independent contractor when I am between projects ( design+building+ interiors+ graphics+ coaching+ running a part-time Bed and Breakfast and event space).
- My first and really important rule of thumb is to get up and get dressed for the day before coming downstairs. ( whoops, I obviously don’t follow all my rules all the time). It seems to make me more productive and feel like I am a member of the real world when I have taken a shower.
- Make at least one appointment outside of the house each day. This could be a marketing contact or a friend (one of the ones who add something to my life). I’ve noticed that I need to be careful to make myself call some of the people that I don’t know so well since it is usually those people who I am afraid to call for one reason or another that have the most impact on my life.
- Make a list of the things that I have to do the night before so that I see that when I sit down at my desk.
- Try to do those things before checking e-mail or blogging.
- Plan some fun things that don’t include shopping. I like to dance and Duane and I go a couple of times a week and also have been teaching myself Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Back in the day, when I worked as a Psychologist, I would freak out at times when my case load was low. I would worry that it was indicative of some dire trend and I’d never get another client. Then I’d make it much worse. When I had a couple of cancellations I would go shopping which compounded the problem since I would end up spending money in addition to not getting any. What I realized over time was that my work was cyclical (which all things are) and barring some drastic circumstance, my work load would go back up. I learned that I’d better enjoy the down times more and do the things I didn’t have time and wiched I could do when I was in the go, go, go mode.
- Keep my house, my office, my closets, my computer files, my life, clean and cleared of junk. I am really sensitive to my surroundings and it affects my spirit when things are cluttered and in a shambles. I use some of the down time to go through my life and get rid of things. Sometimes I am more successful than others. I cleaned out my closet several months ago, which is great but I put all of the stuff I didn’t want into two giant black plastic bags which are still sitting outside of my closet door. (Note to self: go to Goodwill today).
- Spend time with friends that enhance my life. This past year I have branched out and made some new friends by decorating Danneman’s, getting involved in Tango ( don’t be fooled , its not just a dance) and volunteering for Obama.
- Do something for at least an hour a day that are promoting my business or various businesses in my case. Last night I went to a womens networking meeting in Decatur called the Joy of Connecting. It isn’t something that I would normally do when I am in the middle of a project. But I went and I am glad that I did siince I made a couple af really good connections with women doing things that I was interested in and they were very interested in my B and B and event space, kitchen design and graphic design. Some work may well come from it and I have a new chiropractor!
Well, now it is 12:56 and I am still sitting at the computer in my pajamas in front of a space heater with the dogs at my feet. Its now 1:40. It has taken me 44 minutes to get an apple, let the dogs out , figure out how to import a photo I took with my new iPhone to my computer and then to put it into my blog post and publish it. I think I will now let the dogs back in before they freeze, go take a shower, brush my teeth, take those bags of clothes to good will and find a store to buy long silk underwear to wear when I go to Washington on Monday for the Inauguration. Being self-employed between projects may have its dirty little secrets but it definitely got its good points. I am not complaining. So please write and tell us your secrets of success and while you’re at it, where I might find some silk long underwear?