Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘schedule’

Becoming an Overachiever for Ourselves

Time for a Mindset Reset

I’ve been, for all intents and purposes, self-employed with no other means of support for over 5 years now. Many would look at what I do, as well as my accounting records and say I’m retired. For awhile, I guess I behaved as if I was, but when the bills piled up and outflow exceeded inflow for too many months I had to face reality. If I’m going to call myself self-employed, I need to freakin’ act like it! That means doing whatever I need to to attract clients. But even more, being absolutely clear on what I do and who I want to do it for.

As a writer, that means setting myself a daily schedule for writing, and sticking to it come hell or high water. Part of that was upping the ante on how often I publish. In the last 5 years, I’ve ranged from daily (during a couple of blog challenges) to whenever I felt like it, to weekly, to twice weekly, and finally, to thrice weekly which I’ve maintained for a few months now.

Stifling Demon Procrastination

Once I got into the habit of posting three times a week, I encountered a new challenge. Too often, I’d get to a posting day and think:

Oh shit! It’s time for a post, and I’ve got nothin’! Better dash something off before the day is over!

The trouble with that methodology was I sacrificed quality for procrastination. Of late, I’ve set myself loftier goals. I’m still posting 3 times a week, but now, I insist upon having at least 2 weeks of posts scheduled. I was doing fairly well for awhile, but between tragedy, being a dancing nomad, and the holidays, I’ve slipped my schedule.

It took me a few years, but I’ve finally gotten better about keeping commitments to myself. I was my own red-headed stepchild for too long. Now, I use Trello to keep track of my posts. Every time I schedule one, I get to check it off giving me a small win. As I set them up on my board a month at a time, nothing makes me happier than to see each of my posting days at 100% with month still left over. My ultimate, yet currently unachieved goal is to see myself at 100% before the month has started.

Commitment and Determination

At the moment, I have 6 more to write for next month, and it’s the last day of the month so I’m a bit shy of that goal. But on the positive side, I’ve gotten closer this week. Since the first of the year, I’ve struggled to keep a week ahead, and at the moment, I’m finally back at two, if only for a day, assuming I don’t finish this post today (which by damn, I will!).

Which brings me to the point of this post (only took me about 450 words to get there. ADD is running amok today!). Actually, I have two points. Being self-employed, especially when you’re re-creating yourself in a heretofore non-existent image takes determination, perseverance, and a willingness to fail a few thousand times in the process of getting it right. It can also mean watching your finances dwindle at a rather frightening rate, dipping into resources, or accepting clients you’ve promised to avoid, and cutting back on things you once deemed necessities.

My second point has to do with commitment to yourself. If you’re like me, you were the over-achiever in your office, getting projects done ahead of deadline, working into the wee hours if necessary, and always coming through—for everyone else. You got so good at doing for others, you left yourself hanging on a limb time and time again. When it became only your needs at stake, you had years of bad habits to break before you could set deadlines for yourself and shut off the excuse-o-matic that got in the way of meeting those deadlines.

Entrepreneurs Put Themselves First

I’m a little slower about self-care than most, so it took me the better part of 5 years to finally learn to put myself first. Sure, I am still meeting or beating deadlines for my clients, and it will always be that way. I set high standards for myself when it comes to my clients, and have no intention of changing them. The shift came when I finally internalized the idea that I am my very best client and deserve the same high standards when it comes to completing tasks for me.

Then and only then was I able to complete, first the draft of my memoir, and within 3 months (even with the holidays and some serious traumas and travails), complete the re-write. Sure, I had to both kick and have my butt kicked pretty regularly in order to achieve it, but in the process, I’ve been learning to respect myself more as a client.

Keep Raising That Bar!

Another thing I’ve learned about both building my business and treating my own goals with respect is the bar needs to keep going up. Sure, I’m back to my 2 weeks ahead posting goal, but I want to raise it to 3 sooner than later. Meanwhile, I’ve also set an aggressive, 3 posts a week goal for sharing on Medium. this time, though, I created a spreadsheet with posting dates, date scheduled, exactly which post I’m sharing when, and whether it is coming from my blog site or website. In my past life, I kept on task by having a detailed, specific schedule for when each piece of the project was due.

And oh yes, the publication dates from the spreadsheet are now on a card on Medium as well. It helps to keep due dates in one place, at least for me. I even have a reminder on my daily calendar to check my Trello boards to ensure I stay on track.

I used to tell my staff to use their tools. Funny that it took me so long to take my own advice.

Rules To Live By

To summarize what I’ve learned in the process of reinventing myself as a writer:

  1. Treat yourself like you would your best client.
  2. Set up processes to monitor your projects and deadlines.
  3. Re-visit your deadlines daily.
  4. Accept no excuses for missing any of those deadlines.
  5. Beat all deadlines as often as possible, and it’s always possible.
  6. Never use work for other clients as an excuse to push your own deadlines.
  7. Keep raising the bar. A completed task is an opportunity to add a new one, not a time to rest on our laurels and sip mimosas.
  8. Work ahead wherever possible. Slacking off guarantees a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Murphy who love throwing a monkey wrench into the works to back the whole system up.
  9. Have a couple of butt kickers in your arsenal. Nothing makes you work faster, harder, better than being held accountable by outside sources close to you.
  10. Love yourself enough to believe, achieve, and thrive.

Your Big “Why”

On a final note, I reinvented myself because I realized I’d spent years working for people I couldn’t respect, doing work that had begun to bore me to tears with the tedium. I was a creative stuck in a fairly routine line of work, which to make things worse, was far too people-y for this introvert. I’ve never been happier, if somewhat less affluent than I am working from home on my own schedule (no more getting up before 8 AM to commute) with cats on my desk occasionally interrupting to tell me they’re feeling neglected. (Who am I kidding? What cat ever felt neglected occasionally?)

I’m free to go to the gym during the day when it’s less crowded, take a day off during the week to run errands and avoid the crowds, even meet a friend for lunch, a movie, or anything else. I am also free to work well into the night, or wee hours as the case may be. Those are my productive hours, and no “expert” is ever going to convince me to get up at the crack of dawn because “everyone” is more productive then. I know myself better than anyone, and I’ve learned I don’t hit my productive stride until at least 11AM most days.

I encourage everyone to imagine their perfect life, then go forth and get it. I don’t recommend taking the drastic approach I did, but for some of us, cold turkey is the only way. Get us hungry, and there’s no telling what we can achieve!

Gratitude Greases the Wheels

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my butt kickers.
  2. I am grateful for the leap of faith I took and the reinvention of my life which followed. It might be taking longer than planned, but I’m learning so much along the way.
  3. I am grateful for my failures. From them I learn more than I do from my successes.
  4. I am grateful for my low-stress lifestyle. I only wish I’d realized sooner it was possible.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, opportunities, self-respect, achievements, goals met, goals set, dreams realized, world expanding, self-confidence building, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Cats Perspective of the Perfect Life

Cats Do Not Believe in Waiting

I start each morning the same way. I get out of bed and head to my desk to write 3 pages longhand aka “Morning Pages”. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been writing every morning for over 2 years, it wasn’t until recently it took first place in my morning routine. Before that, feeding the cats was my first priority.

Though they’ve had to adjust to a 30-minute delay between rising and feeding, some are quite happy with the new arrangement. Dylan usually beats me to my office, settling himself comfortably on the corner of the desk to purr and await skritches when I pause to gather my thoughts. Though he has no trouble telling me if those pauses are less frequent than he’d like.

Recognizing Who’s the King in My Household

Sometimes, it’s a casual flick of his fluffy tail across the page. Others, he’ll walk across it forcing me to stop until he moves, willingly or not. But there are times when he feels particularly neglected. He’ll stand on top of my spiral notebook, shove my pen aside, and head bonk my glasses right off my face. You can be sure he always gets what he wants; skritches and maybe a head bonk in return.

When I stop and glance his way, he’ll roll over, giving me easy access to his fluffy white belly. I start giving him the belly rubs he loves and he grabs my hand between his paws, applying gentle pressure with his claws so I can’t pull away. It’s his way of saying hang for awhile. Give me some love and I’ll give you some back. At which point he begins licking my hand.

Time is Relative to a Cat

Being with my cats is one of my favorite de-stressers. Their soft purrs, their snuffly snores, even the weird chittering sound they make when birds or squirrels land in the tree outside my office window. All are comfort food for my soul. But more, they’re reminders to stop and be for even just a moment. We humans forget to do that more often than not.

To a cat, there’s a time to nap, a time to eat, a time to bathe—you get the picture. They know how to break their day down into pockets of time where everything has its place. Humans lose sight of this. All too often, we’re “go, go, go” and we forget to stop and catch our breath. There’s always too much to do and too little time. Or is there?

Trading in the Rat Race for the Cat Nap

Part of this mentality is due to the 9 to 5 (or in reality 8 to whenever) lifestyle of employees with jobs.https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVK You’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time, and stay there for a requisite number of hours in order to collect a paycheck which may or may not go up every year or so. That doesn’t even consider the bigger and bigger chunk the government feels justified to take out before you get the rest.

One of the best things I ever did was get away from living by someone else’s schedule. It was never natural nor comfortable for me, and often the worst part was being forced to interact with people every day. Though I’m still playing with my own schedule and routine, it will always be a much looser structure than any employer could offer.

Living a Healthier Lifestyle

My schedule these days allows for regular trips to the gym without having to join the masses either before or after regular work hours when I’d have to fight for time in the various stations. I can workout for 30 minutes or 90, or whatever feels comfortable to me.

It allows for a day mid-week to run errands, and opportunities to go to the movies with friends when it’s not only cheaper, but less crowded. Best of all, it allows me to work during the hours I’m most productive, and that depends a lot on what I’m doing. I’ve learned through experience, trial, and error that my optimum times for writing are far different than those for doing accounting or other analytical work, at least most of the time. I typically work at least a few hours on the weekend, but as it’s all my time, it doesn’t really feel like work.

What the Body Dictates

Watching my cats, I learn to follow my natural rhythm. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired (often only about 5 hours at night), meditate when I’m ready to stop and go within for an hour, and do chores in the midst of it all. Keeping up with laundry is easy when you can throw a load in, then go into your office and get some work done.

Even better, and more cat-like is the ability to work shoe-less and in comfortable clothes. I don’t need makeup. My hair is usually in a messy bun on top of my head. I wear a bra in the house only if I had to put one on to leave it. Even then, it’s usually off within an hour after I get home.

Sure, there are days when I get almost nothing done, but there are others where I’ll work 12-14 hours and never feel like I’ve worked at all. Still, the old adage applies: “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and the busier my schedule gets, the more efficiently I use my time. Words flow easier, topics fall into my lap, offers of further work come from unexpected but greatly appreciated sources. I rise earlier in the morning (the one thing the cats don’t appreciate) and stay up later.

Making Time to Be

Yet throughout the day, my cats remind me to stop, take a moment to give and receive love. They remind me life isn’t a long, continuous stream of doing. Sometimes you have to stop doing and listen, or feel, or breathe. Those reminders, those little breaks in my day make all the difference in the world. If something I’m doing isn’t flowing as easily as it should, the example I’m set let’s me know it’s OK to stop and walk away for a little while. The task will be there when I get back, and I’m not on a set schedule which says I have to be finished by 5.

As the days grow shorter, I find, more and more that I’ll be working away in my office and look up to find it’s grown dark while I’ve been immersed in my writing, editing, or accounting, and I need to go turn on some lights so I can navigate the hallway without tripping over someone. Though it surprises me to see it happening more and more lately, it’s also gratifying to be able to settle into that flow effortlessly and without fear of interruption or disruption.

Living and Loving the Non-Office

Life and work on a cat’s schedule may not be practical for many, but for some of us, it’s the only way we can do our job to the very best of our capabilities, and remain sane and grounded at the same time. Unlike some, I don’t function well on a strict schedule. I need the flexibility to stand up and stretch, meditate, get out of the “office” for a walk, or simply do a long, slow stretch inspired by my cats.

What’s your best work environment? How do you accomplish the most and feel like your most productive, least stressed self? Share in the comments. You never know who might gain something from your experiences.

Grateful for My Near-Perfect Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the slower, more natural pace my life takes these days.
  2. I’m grateful for unexpected projects.
  3. I’m grateful for setting my own deadlines and honoring them.
  4. I’m grateful for my cats from whom I learn so much.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, joy, friendship, companionship, unconditional feline love, morning pages, lessons, new information, change, progress, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

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