It’s hard work starting a business and it takes up a lot of time especially in the early days. In my previous business I’d worked day and night which made me cash rich and seriously time poor. On that basis and in my current business, I vowed I wouldn’t go there again. This time my goal was to work 4 days with clients and have the remaining 3 days off. That was a big goal for a new business but I wanted a lifestyle friendly business and that’s what it looked like for me.
That said, you’d think in the circumstances, my loved ones, family and friends would have left me to get on with the task of building my business?
Not In my case. Instead they continued to visit because I was at home and as long as they were there, highlighting my delays and failures, while expressing their irritation at my unavailability, they were preventing me from working. And although their irritation wasn’t always verbalised, it didn’t need to be, you can tell a lot just by how another person looks at you. (Oh the shame)
Still they kept coming and with them came that dreaded fake one liner I know your busy but? Which by the way, will be the inscription on my headstone. Oh yes, if I had a penny for every time someone said to me I know your busy but, which translated means, what you’re doing is not more important than what I need and besides it can’t be, it’s not making you any money right now AND you’re at home so I’ve called in uninvited and un announced and I’m not sorry because I knew you’d be here and I need your help, fancy a catch up, need a lift, whatever, just fill in the blank because the reason for their respective visits came in many forms.
Then they’d come in, get as far as the living room, see my laptop and files open and say, oh are you in the middle of something? Oh my god the frustration! To be fair to all of them, because I love them deeply and it’s not in my nature to make people feel bad, I would say to them, it’s okay come in, or what’s up? But here’s the thing, I didn’t mean it. No, what I wanted to say was yes I am busy, it is important, I don’t have time to stop and I’ll never make any frigging money so long as you keep door stepping me this way, but I didn’t because like many mid life women I’m the glue in my family. I put myself in that position a long time ago, in fact as an “over-functioner” I took up the mantle and wore it as a badge of honour.
So, it’s no surprise that it became expected and the fact that I didn’t tell them any different, was my fault. Yes, they should have been more considerate, but they weren’t and why would they be, when I was feeling one thing but saying another, until that is, I inadvertently found a way to make it stop. I’d already tried the subtle approach but that fell on deaf ears, hence their collective one liner I know your busy but!
So the change for the better happened like this. I’m rarely ill thank god, but one day I woke up with flu symptoms and had to go back to bed. As I dozed in and out across the day doped up on flu medicine I vaguely heard the doorbell and the phone ring a few times. I slept right through and the next day I asked my husband Martin who also happened to be at home that day…… who was at the door and on the phone? He told me who it was and that when he’d explained that I was poorly and sleeping, my visitors quietly left and didn’t come in saying, I wont disturb her and the callers said I’ll ring back when she’s feeling better, no message.
So I said to Martin, that’s it, I should just tell them I’m sleeping in future. I didn’t of course but circumstances provided a timely solution when not long after that, I had a huge piece of work to complete with a deadline I knew I wouldn’t meet if the normal interruptions ensued. This work involved a lot of writing up on behalf of someone else. It was nothing to do with my business and not for payment I might add, but I really wanted to help this person so it had to be done.
To get it done I planned a night shift at home, because I could see no other way to find the big chunk of uninterrupted time I needed. After a warm soak I went to bed about 7pm, got up again at midnight, worked right through, finished the job and then went to bed at 10am the following morning. This time though and unlike the time I had the flu, I would ring around first and tell everyone just to let you know in case you were calling today (because they would be) I’m off to bed now because I’ve been up all night working and you know what? They were absolutely fine about it. Obviously, nobody comes through the night so that was easy and clearly they found my need for sleep far more important than my need to work, so they didn’t disturb me, it was genius.
I started to do that on a regular basis in order to get more done in my business and I continued with it whenever I needed to and it worked. In fact, it worked so well that in time they stopped coming unannounced, stopped calling left and right and I was grateful. In the end they got the message and yes of course I still see them, but it’s no longer unwanted because it’s planned, which means now when they call, I enjoy my time with them, I love to see them, and I wholeheartedly appreciate their visits along with the precious time they’ve taken out of their day to come and see me.
I still pull an all-nighter now and again, mainly because I get all my inspiration at night, but also because I love the stillness of working through the night and the feeling of accomplishment from getting so much done. I do accept that pulling an all-nighter might not work for you for any number of reasons, all I’m saying is it worked for me and it may be something you could use in an emergency or until such times as you’re able to set boundaries that others will respect.
Roll forward and yes I do work 4 days with my clients and have 3 days off. Yaaay! I do my admin as and when, i’m not at all strict with that. Getting time to be and do what I want was my goal and that’s what I’m doing. If I have to do some late night admin or pull a night shift now and then that’s fine. The quality of my life now means I no longer stress over getting things done, In fact I believe those 3 days off every week set me up to take everything else in my stride.
Where could you make changes to reclaim the time of your life?
Please post your answers in the comment box below and thank you for taking the time today.