Friday, 15 August 2014

Self-employed Self-Care

I recently celebrated my 3rd business anniversary. Happy Birthday The Wardrobe Angel! Go moi! After 3 years in business here's a few things I've learned about being self-employed and taking ownership of your own self-care:

1. It's ok to take time off
In fact, it's not just 'ok' to take time off , it should be mandatory to TAKE TIME OFF. There comes a point when you are simply not productive. You sit and twist in your office chair, check your phone, refresh your Twitter feed, fire off a few emails. But that ain't productivity, that's procrastination. Unlike teachers, who know each year when their weeks off start and end, us self-employed folk have work lives that are remarkably fluid: each business has a unique work flow. Time off is something that I still struggle with. I am always making notes about blog posts, articles and tweets. Whenever I sit down I pull out a fashion magazine or a business book. I'm constantly thinking of my next Instagram shot and trying out new styling ideas on the mannequin in Wardrobe Towers. But when you offer a 1-2-1 service and give so much of yourself (energy, knowledge, time, personality, skills and experience plus love and joy in what you are delivering) you have to dose yourself up with self-care before you get in a state where you need taking care of .....which brings me onto point number 2.

2. Listen to your body
Old habits die hard: for the first 2 years of running The Wardrobe Angel I didn't have a holiday, I scaled my social life down to zero and took a part time job at Whistles to keep the cash coming in. Nose to the grind stone, or in my case, the wardrobes, I had zero time off. I'll never forget a networking event I attended where a woman said to me "I'm not talking to you, you look too good" walked off and avoided me for the rest of the night. In a haze of tiredness I ran to my car, called my friend Clare and promptly burst into tears. In recent times when that has happened (and boy does it happen) I have realised that that kind of behaviour isn't about me - it is about that woman's insecurity, jealousy, lacking sense of identity. In short - it's all her 'stuff' not mine. But tiredness took it's toll. I should've listened to my body and gone to bed that night, not driven to a networking event where I essentially paid for someone to hurt my feelings.

3. Book time with yourself, for yourself
Now, here's where it gets interesting. This is about taking time to do what you really love. This for me means binge watching Sex And The City DVDs, idly browsing round charity shops in small market towns, sleeping, lots of sleeping, and spending time with my clothes (this point may have you rather confused - when I want a bit of 'me time' I don't head for the tub to bob around in a bubble bath, I head to my bedroom and literally spend time with my clothes: I put new outfits together, make a list of things that need altering, re-arrange my wardrobe. My Uni friends always thought this was hilarious but I always thought how could you not spend time with your clothes?) I try not to do anything that I would do during a normal working week because self-care, to me, means replenishing your sense of self and only you know what makes you tick.

4. Be selfish
You can become so reliant on technology that you become accessible all the time: email, Facebook. Instagram, Twitter. When I'm having time off I'm really honest - I'll put my Out of Office on. I'll turn my phone off during the day. This helps me to just STOP. The joy of doing this is that when you come back to the 'real world' you are so much more invigorated and engaged.

5. Have a goal
I have one strategic business goal to achieve during my week off and I find that by focusing just on me I can usually achieve it. I had last week off and I made it my mission to get 100 new Instagram followers. Job done: I achieved it by going on  my phone for as little as 30minutes a day. Without getting bogged down in the day-to-day routines and requirements of my business I had a fun goal attained through a creative outlet : my idea of business heaven.

Til next time....x

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