Emotionally, I have to admit that I have been very very distant from my blog this year. It’s been one whirlwind after another, and I did not particularly want to bare it all here for fear of my blog turning into an uber personal diary. One day though, I decided to make peace with myself and share this because I am certainly not the only one battling. If this resonated with you in any way, please leave a comment.
Last night was the night I had reached my tipping point. For me to take a quiz to access whether I am a workaholic or not AND post the result on my Instagram, then I know I feel a certain way. It needs a fix. Right now, everything in my life is up in the air – my blog, my styling service, one or two other ideas, everything! And I just feel. Like. A. Wreck waiting to be salvaged.
This morning, I woke up a bit angry for sleeping off on what I had planned for the night. I sat down and got to work immediately, then got carried away by a Shopify article on being a better stay-at-home entrepreneur. The interesting thing is that I’ve never referred to myself as an entrepreneur, partly because I am not the type to walk around and say “I am this, I am that” and largely because I dislike and refuse labels that put me under a certain kind of pressure or expectation level. Either ways, I am finally calling myself an Entrepreneur to test drive whether it hurts or not. You’ll never know unless you try, right?
Till now, I never knew the need to be intentional as it carries with it many benefits and of course, responsibilities. For one, I work from home around the clock and I found my little apartment as the best place because if I switch from mental creative mood to hands-on creative mood, I’ll have everything I’ll need to execute said project. However, the downside of staying in my comfort zone has done just that – put me down and made me stay in my comfort zone. From when I wake up, often times to a laptop that was left to run overnight on an uncompleted project, I hiss, sigh, and beat up myself for sleeping off in the first place. In those days where I sleep off not completing my work, most times on my futon, I realize that the day ahead of me is burgeoning with uncompleted tasks needing my attention. The mistake I always make is thinking that these tasks need my attention ALL AT ONCE.
So what do I do? I micromanage and over-multitask, tab after tab, until I can no longer see the intro on the tabs (I think these are called Favicons). Then I open a new window, repeat this until I have at least 3 windows with 30+ tabs each. It is a living nightmare.
Alerted by my pummeling productivity, I read articles on Forbes and most times entrepreneur tips shared by Shopify directly to my inbox. I have subscribed to so many of those in recent times that I think reading them every morning before I set out to work somehow drains me and cuts out my time. Still, I learn a lot. After reading one of these such emails on this particular day, I jumped into the shower, because the author stated the importance of being dressed like you are heading to an actual office, although you are working from home. It was then I totally realized that waking up, punching at my computer and shuffling tasks all day in my lounge clothes will not get me anywhere because – lounge!
I am lucky that TV does not really interest or distract me, but my phone is a constant source of distraction. On this day as well, I turned off my phone before I got into the shower. I had turned it off some hours after I woke up but needed to do something on it really quickly, (yh, right!) so it came back on. But what made me able to switch off my phone without any attachments was the fact that the weekend my phone went bad, the world didn’t stop. In fact, it sailed on pretty gracefully because…I am only a ripple. No one came barging at my door (except one friend who had emailed me). Text messages that once seemed like they needed to be responded to right away waited for hours, then days, until I got a new phone, reluctantly. Because of all these I turned off my phone in confidence because I knew that in the few hours it will be off, no one depends on me for survival that much to get furious about my absence (my email tab is still open and I am not seeing emails from anyone, so yes, life goes on, indefinitely). Thankfully, I have always known that no matter how indispensable you think you are, someone will be raised to fill in your position, even your spouse who claims you are the only one who knows him/her the best. You need to learn this if you don’t already know.
On the subject of being an entrepreneur, I want to be intentional in my approach to my business. When I share posts, I want people to know the exact message I am trying to send across. Though not 100% guaranteed, I want everything to be clear and leave little room for ambiguity; there are too many people in the world doing too many things for one person to leave his/her audience puzzled and in search of answers and they will quickly move on like lightening.
Working from home, you expect that you will harness the benefits of being in your own space and doing things on your own free will, without the constraints of an employer or shared work space. However, things can get messy really quickly. You definitely want to de-clutter your space to free up your mind. Like I learned today, you should definitely create a morning routine, one you can adjust when the need arises so you don’t become a robot. I am afraid of that. Another thing I have read a lot about is automating your processes. So if you own an online store like I do, you definitely are familiar with the pain of printing a shipping label today, another tomorrow and another, weeks later. How about setting a day or two for shipping per week? I need to start doing this too. Also, I think keeping shipping supplies in one box, for example, will make the process of boxing packages go a lot quicker. For smaller businesses like mine, orders trickle in, sometimes one a month, sometimes a little more. In times like that, I “forget” how to ship because I am not doing the process frequently enough. I wonder what I can do to fill that void (please leave suggestions). I guess those times mean more work has to be put in so that more products are put out and hopefully, more orders come in. It’s a lot and sometimes, I wish I had someone to help so it will make things easier. But from my experience with working with people, things often get more complicated than simplified. This does not in any way refute my beliefs in the potency of collaboration.
After all, this week, I learned these at a networking event:
- Discover your “why”
- If your “why” is big enough, it doesn’t matter how tedious your “how” is.
- Don’t predict your future based on your past experiences and current resources. (I think this last one can be spun both ways. Let’s stay with the positive).
As I conclude this post, I conclude it with confidence and with the innate belief that I will do better. Sometimes, I blame it on my African-ness. You know, the humility that was instilled into us from birth – “you cannot be pompous, you cannot brag, you cannot talk about yourself in XYZ manner, but you must uphold this family and what it stands for”. That kind of upbringing, as opposed to the American style of raising children where you need an elevator speech from the age of 13 makes you work hard, pray and hope to be discovered, instead of going out there to network like a beast, while speaking confidently about your skills and talents to attract good influences. There is a good side and a downside to both styles of parenting but as an African who now resides in another continent, like I was raised, I will be environment-savvy and mix both aspects of my home culture and new culture to my inherent advantage.
Lastly, I am my worst critic and I am well aware of this.