by Deborah Hartung, founder of Pivot PeopleTech
Working as a solopreneur has never been easier, or more tough and demanding. There’s a lot of freedom that comes from being a one-woman show, but there is also a ton of stress and if you are not careful, you may get caught up in the madness of believing the insane idea that you have to work morning, noon and night.
‘Working for yourself’ has never been easier or more appealing than it is right now in the age of all things digital and tech. Women especially are choosing to branch out on their own as ‘solopreneurs’, working as consultants, coaches, facilitators, freelance writers, graphic designers, software developers, architects, interior designers or digital marketing gurus. Inasmuch as there’s a freedom that comes from this choice, there is also a dark side and if you’re not careful, you may just lose your marbles altogether. I’ve been in this crazy game for 11 years already and I know better than anyone, that ‘time is money’. But you aren’t going to be earning any money if you’re burned out and unhealthy. Here’s how I stay sane:
Have a Morning Routine
Working at home, alone, it’s easy to get caught up in a piece of work and be so ‘in the zone’ that you dispense with a routine altogether and catch yourself – as I often have – realizing it’s 11am and you’ve not showered, had breakfast or even gotten in more than 50 steps for the day so far. This is super unhealthy, both physically and mentally. Set some kind of routine for yourself that includes exercise, time for meditation, some personal development, a shower and actual breakfast. There are tons of fantastic workout apps available and the rise of mindfulness practice has led to apps like “Headspace” that offer short, guided meditations. Train your brain with apps like Lumosity or spend some time learning a new language on Duolingo or completing a world class learning programme on Coursera, Udemy, EdX and the like. Enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, write in your gratitude journal or plan your day. Start the day right and set yourself up for success!
Have a Dedicated Workspace
It’s important to draw a clear distinction between work, family and relaxation and its best to have a dedicated workspace that is conducive to productivity and creative innovation. Generally – as tempting as this may be – the best workspace in your home is NOT your bed, sofa or the dining room table! Get yourself a proper, dedicated workspace that is comfortable and well-lit. Some people prefer to get out and work at a local coffee shop or restaurant and I’ve encountered many women who enjoy the sense of community offered by a co-working space. It doesn’t really matter whether you choose to repurpose the space under the stairs, have a custom home office or work from a coffee shop – so long as you find a dedicated workspace that works for you.
Have Stuff Automated
You don’t have to spend hours on manual invoicing and expense reconciliations or keeping in touch with your clients. There are loads of free tools that you can use to automate these tasks, from apps like Wave App for invoicing on the fly, to automated social media posts across multiple platforms with apps like CrowdFire or HootSuite. Mailchimp has some fantastic features that enable you to send beautiful newsletters, special offers and other communications to your customers and mailing list. Spend some time getting more tech savvy so that you can save yourself from mundane, repetitive tasks and the stress and guilt of not having attended to something.
Have a Tribe
We are social creatures and we need to get out and have human interaction with people outside of our nuclear families. If you had a full time job, you would have friends at work whom you can commiserate with and celebrate your successes. Make sure that you don’t lose this crucial aspect of your humanity and be sure to connect with a group of people who support you in your endeavours and hold you accountable, at least once a week.
Where’s the fun in being a solopreneur if you’re not going to make the most of the freedom that comes from being responsible and accountable only to yourself? Every once in a while, reward yourself for your hard work by catching a midday movie, getting your nails done or having a leisurely late afternoon lunch date with yourself while everyone else is at work. You chose this lifestyle for a reason and you should make the most of it!
Working as a one-woman show doesn’t have to translate into a life of solitude and isolation. It is an extremely rewarding lifestyle choice – albeit extremely stressful at times. Make sure you have a passion and a purpose and that you don’t allow yourself to slowly go insane. Keep up the hustle, sister!
Deborah Hartung is a consultant, coach, author and speaker, and the founder of Pivot PeopleTech. She loves helping entrepreneurs find their unique voice and leadership style in order to empower them to create amazing places where people truly want to work. She has spent the majority of her career in HR and labour relations management and consulting, gaining experience in all fields related to the human experience in the workplace. While her main focus remains on consulting, coaching and training in the HR and labour relations space, Deborah is passionate about people and technology and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Professionally, Deborah is known as an HR turnaround specialist with a proven track record in improving workplace culture, employee engagement and organisational effectiveness. www.pivotpeopletech.co.za
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