People always say that one of the great things about working for yourself is that you’re your own boss. And yes, that probably is good – if you’re a nice boss.
Back in my Corporate life, I was a pretty good manager. I made sure I was clear on expectations, I was always available for support, I set realistic, achievable goals, I worked with my team on their personal development and ensured everyone had a work/life balance.
So why can’t I do any of that for myself?!
Right now, I’m not nice to work for at all. I set unrealistic expectations, pile on the pressure until I feel so tired that something has to give, I don’t allow time for breaks, I expect emails to be checked on holidays and everything to be done immediately.
Every email I get burns a hole in my inbox. It doesn’t matter how much I tell myself to flag it up and come back to it when I have some space, my inner boss just won’t let that lie and gives me a hard time until I’ve dealt with it.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t as bad when I was just running my yoga business (perhaps the calming effect of all the yoga!) but as the owner of a small retail brand I’m shocking.
So I’ve decided this has to stop. This is my guide to…
Being a better boss and a happier worker – when YOU are your boss
Set actual working hours – and (at least try to) stick to them.
If you were employed you’d have a contract which stated your working hours. For some roles, I know there might be overtime, etc, but you wouldn’t take on a job without knowing what the hours were likely to be and whether they suit you and your family. If you’re working for yourself it is a little different, as you’re probably fulfilling all the roles in your company, but it doesn’t mean you can’t, at least try, to only work during your designated ‘working hours’.
Obviously there are exceptions. Sometimes things genuinely can’t wait. But, just getting disciplined about when you will (and won’t) check emails helps.
For example, I now check my work emails first thing every morning, work two full days a week (between the school runs) and maybe spend an additional hour one evening making sure I’m on top of everything. I also never work weekends, unless I absolutely have to.
Allow yourself breaks
As I write this, it’s 12.36pm, I haven’t had lunch, I don’t think I’ve even had a cup of tea (or a wee!) all morning and I need to leave to get the kids in just over two hours. This is not good.
Try and remind yourself to get up, get moving and clear your head at least once an hour. I’ve just set myself a reminder on my watch, that buzzes and tells me to get up and move. Having a stretch, a little walk round the house (or even better outside), even putting the kettle on is better than nothing.
And do make sure you stop to eat and drink. You need fuel!
Take proper holidays!
I don’t think I’ve had a holiday since starting this business where I haven’t checked emails at least once a day (despite what I’ve told my husband!) But I do know that a holiday should be a holiday. Work extra-hard for a week or two before, clear your inbox, get everything ticked off your to-do list and enjoy yourself!
In a few weeks my son breaks up for half term and I plan on taking one week (he’s off for two) as a complete holiday, with lots of family time and no working. We’ll see how I do.
(P.S. I don’t think checking in on things once or twice a week is overkill – in fact it might be necessary. But no more than that please!)
I covered this in my post about getting getting stuff done without childcare, so won’t go into much detail here. It really comes down to being realistic about the time you have and what has to get done.
Recognise that you have other priorities too. Whether that’s children, a husband, a job (or all of the above), it’s always a juggling act. You can’t do it all, you can’t be everywhere at once and you will most likely never reach the bottom of your to-do list (or your laundry basket), but, as long as you’re getting the most important things done, that’s ok.
Be kind to yourself.
Finally, be nice to yourself. I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful bosses in the past, who I’ve understood if I’ve had personal problems and needed time off, haven’t rushed me to come back to work when I’ve been ill and have generally just been nice, decent human beings. I do consider myself to be one, I’m sure you are too – so let’s be as kind to ourselves as we are to other people!