Who gets to define “busy” in modern professional life? What is the threshold beyond which you are “too busy” to take on a new project? And what counts as “busy” anyway? Can you be “busy” simply because you are not working?
Freelancers and small business owners struggle with the feast-or-famine nature of business all the time. When a client asks if you are busy it can be tempting to drop everything and make space for paying work. But “busy” in this context almost always carries a sub-context. “Busy” really means “doing work for someone else.” It rarely means “taking personal time”, “focusing on yourself” or even just “off the clock.” Self-employment doesn’t come with a clock. In the struggle to develop a successful business margins are thin, when they exist at all.
But when is enough too much?
When I shifted my practice entirely virtual and stopped taking litigation cases, part of the long-term strategy was to allow me time to write for myself – to put together downloadable how-to guides that generate passive income, and eventually finish one of the speculative fiction novels I have been working on for years. But nature abhors a vacuum. I quickly found my clients had more than enough work to fill my schedule most of the time. When they didn’t, creativity fatigue would set in along with feelings that I wasn’t “doing enough” for my business. As a result, no “personal” writing has been getting done.
That’s because I never consider myself “busy” when working on or for myself. Clients can interrupt personal writing projects because what they need brings in money. Valuing my own work is much harder.
Here’s the thing, though. When you get mired in everyone else’s priorities, you miss out on your own best life. If you let others decide whether you are busy with the right things, you (and I) will never put yourself first and meet your goals.
Starting next Monday, I’m going to be offering a writing workshop called “Chasing Your Tale: Building Your Writer’s Toolkit.” It’s based on the lessons I’ve learned researching fiction writing while trying to break the habit of letting others define “busy” and put myself first.
So if writing a book is somewhere on your vision board, or if you just want to learn some tools to tell better stories, come join me every other Monday from 8/17 through 10/26 at 6:30 pm EDT. Let’s be busy together and put the focus back on ourselves.
SheHive Partner & Attorney, Schmidt Law Services
Tomorrow I turn 50 and I’m simply floored. Thirty was no no biggie, forty felt mature, but fifty? That feels like something - like a long time. Like half a century. How did that happen?!
But don’t get me wrong - I don’t mind aging one bit. I’ll take my wise brain over my young body any day.
In fact, 25 was the only age that ever gave me pause. I was so full of anxiety - sure I hadn’t accomplished enough. Looking back now - TWENTY FIVE years into the future, it’s laughable. What could I have possibly expected to accomplish at 25? I was a baby who had so much more to experience!
I’ve taken some time this week to reflect on what I would tell that 25 year old today if I could talk to her. Read on for 50 truths for my younger self.
Nice women don’t have honest conversations with each other. Well, they don’t have honest conversations when they are most needed… when they are hurt, when they are angry, or when they disagree. Nice women grin and bare the pain and disappointment. Nice women are taught that it isn’t polite to make waves.
But truth be told, we all know that nice women still usually have the conversations - just not with the women they need to have them with. When we are hurt or angry, us nice women gather our allies and tell them our woes in hopes that they’ll take up the fight on our behalf. Or, at the very least, validate our feelings.
On Monday I attended the Be Your Own Best Friend class at the SheHive led by Lisa Machala of The Collaborative Body. The purpose of the class was to help you replace your negative self-talk with self-leadership.
At one point in the class Lisa asked how we knew someone was our friend. I jotted down a few notes… a friend is someone who is kind to me, challenges me with love, laughs at my jokes, has long, brave talks with me and performs acts of service for me.
I stared at the page as tears started to well up in my eyes.
Most nights, after a full day of working for my corporate clients and taking care of my home and teaching whatever class I have lined up at the SheHive, the rest of the family goes to bed, and I settle in to my office to catch up on everything I didn’t have time - or energy - to do during the day. Stuff like answering emails, writing newsletters, and scheduling classes.