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