1 in 5 Americans works from home. In 2015 that amounted to about 48 million people. If you are one of these hardy souls, you know that working from home has its challenges. And if you’re a sensitive, caring spirit-preneur type – a healer, energy worker, integrative health practitioner, alternative medicine practitioner, naturopath, herbalist, Reiki practitioner, animal communicator, workshop leader, Qoya facilitator, massage therapist, body worker, etc. – you’re probably more likely to be sensitive to the needs of others, sacrificing your personal or business time to take care of someone else.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been guilty of throwing my needs overboard at the first invitation. Because isn’t that what life is constantly doing? Inviting us to choose where to place our attention and energy? Whether we know it or not, life is made of such choices. The problem is, I didn’t always know that’s what I was choosing. And then, inevitably I’d start feeling resentful or overwhelmed, and that’s when I’d realize that no one’s gonna take care of my business but me.
In my case, I have the added factor that my partner and I both run businesses, and one of them is seasonal. So when Spring hits, one of us kicks into high gear and the whole household moves to Vacationland.
When I first hooked up with my Seasonally Effective Partner, I was completely unhinged by picking up and moving in the springtime. Not only does my partner hit the ground running to capitalize on the short window of time before guests arrive, but she starts sleeping at camp as soon as it’s warm enough to get the water going. This way, she can capitalize on every moment of daylight. It makes sense for her.
I’ve had several seasons to wrangle with this thing, and this year I’ve done better than any other year with keeping head and ass together during the big transition time, the start of camp season:
I kept to my own pace and timing. I didn’t move out to camp right away. I wanted to clean out some closets, get the guest room ready for some summer visitors, and do a few small painting and maintenance jobs during nice weather and before summer got into full swing. Also, I wanted to move back in to an orderly home in the Fall.
So I excused myself from having to move, helping with getting camps ready, closing up the winter house and opening the summer one, while keeping up with my business, reporting to my tiny hospital job, and preparing the meals and doing the grocery shopping.
My partner managed to feed herself and generally stay alive and well during what felt to me like breaking a law of nature. I had to check my tendency to make sure she realized I wasn’t there. But this beat by a long shot what in previous years was the tendency to make sure she understood what a sacrifice I was making. (Yech.)
I have also kept my regular work hours, and I’m doing that at our winter home. I’m using this opportunity to see how it would feel to have an office space of my own outside the house year-round, something I’ve toyed with this past year.
With the success of making different choices has come a deeper understanding of the unconscious choices I’ve made before. It’s been a huge and welcome lesson and a great step forward in my self care and the care of my business. In fact, the two are inseparable. Wow.
So here are the 9 self-care and business-care boundaries that are working for me and my solo spirit-preneur business of coaching solo spirit-preneurs. I’ve added an additional 4 specifically aimed at maintaining healthy boundaries during times of transition and change.
No matter your particular circumstances, you too will have to steer yourself and your business through times of change, including let’s hope, the transition to a more healthy, more thriving business. Here’s to that!
9 Self-Care/Business-Care Boundaries for Solo Spirit-Preneurs
1. Make and keep regular work hours. My habit is to work on my business in the morning, because that’s my good time of day. Some days I have a different schedule, because I work outside the home, too. Even if your business is just starting out, make and keep those work hours!
2. Have a separate space dedicated to your work. Sure, I work on a laptop, and I can type anywhere and often do, in the evenings, sit in the living room while my GF is on hers, and we socialize or watch a movie. I toyed with the idea of wearing a certain hat while working, but it seemed easier to just use the office, which is a reclaimed bedroom/catch-all room.
3. Leave your phone in the other room. Also close out the cat, the dog, the laundry, and the mailman. Train your friends that you’re not available during those times. If you must access your phone, use the Do Not Disturb function.
4. Schedule time off and keep to it. More on this in a previous post on managing the To-Do List. Add to this: take breaks during your work time. Drink water, pee, go outside and breathe air. I like to do laundry during work time, because it provides built-in stretch and pee breaks. Plus, I often have aha’s while hanging the laundry.
5. Notice your tendency to jump in and help others, and squelch it. When someone expresses a need, practice doing and saying nothing. Wait until someone else volunteers or the person figures it out for themselves. Ask yourself, “If I were out of the country, or had no car, what would this person do?” Often, we are the ones who appoint ourselves the go-to gal or guy. See how people get their needs met when you dismount from the white horse. Magic. If it can’t be avoided, schedule the helping task for outside your regular working hours. Also magic.
6. Just because someone else in the house changes something in their life, doesn’t mean you have to change everything in yours. Corollary: If the other person’s change is going to transgress your boundaries, speak up. “That won’t work: It’s during my work time. How about having the energy audit, birthday party, international balloon summit in the afternoon?”
7. Understand and respect your limitations. This has two corollaries: scale back your expectations of yourself and learn how to ask for help. Believe it or not, in years past I still saw it as my duty to feed my partner, even if she was out at camp working all day and I was in town working. I would figure out a dinner, head out to camp and cook for us. I think deep down I was afraid that if we didn’t eat together we’d grow apart. Another point of view blown. Yay. And for some reason, the words, “Will you…?” come unnaturally to my head and mouth. Practice uttering them, after asking yourself, what would it be great if somebody else took on so I can do my business?”
8. Double down on self care. Especially during transitions and when things are going really well. It’s essential to keep a self care routine. No matter what else is going on with me, I write my morning pages, I floss at night. I read my recovery literature, and I cook a meal from scratch. Many days, I also take a walk.
9. Halve your expectations. My usual method for getting things done is to schedule a blitz so that I get it over with. I’m an INFJ, and Js hate long transitions. When it’s over, it’s over (Think: saying your good-byes at a party or those last ten minutes of church). My expectations of myself usually have to do with how long it will take me to accomplish something. For the Spring to Summer transition, I gave myself a couple of weeks. Just when I was starting to feel I’d never get everything done, I reconfigured the whole plan, and gave myself essentially most of the summer to accomplish those tasks, because, after all, I’d be going there nearly every day to work. Changing the time frame also impacted my self-care: I was able to maintain my sleep schedule, sane eating, and getting in some movement time. And getting my work done was no longer an emergency. I’d be back it again tomorrow.
I wonder how other stay-at-home workers, creatives and business people manage to run their business in the midst of a household. Even if you don’t have a seasonal business as we do, any change to the home front impacts your business: moving, remodeling, caring for a family member, neighborhood events like construction (even tree-felling!), weather changes.
What have I missed? What self-care and work-care boundaries are essential for you?
by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport
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