Lately, I seem to have been suffering from a major confidence crisis.
It feels like I’m going round in ever-decreasing vicious circles of not being able to finish things, which doesn’t help with the whole confidence thing, which gives me less motivation to finish things, which doesn’t help with the confidence…you get the point. Circles. Decreasing.
In all honesty, I attribute a good portion of this to being self-employed, and essentially losing the structure of my week that a full-time job imposes. What I wasn’t expecting was how quickly things can spiral once you start letting things slip – in my case, a particularly nasty bout of the flu, followed by a holiday (that wasn’t quite a holiday because I had so much to do) threw what little routine I had out of the window, which then turned into constantly feeling like I was a step behind where I should be.
That seemed to turn my weeks into a constant game of catch-up which, when coupled with other more personal anxieties, turned into a slippery slope of “oh god what the fuck have I got myself into”.
At risk of getting too personal here, I began turning into a bit of a gloomy, unmotivated mess towards the end of last year. By the middle of January I was pretty much in the worst mental health place I’ve been in since the middle of uni, which is stupid. Stupid, because I’m doing a job I love, on my own terms and working with some absolutely fantastic people. But also…not stupid, because there are lots of little things about being self-employed that I didn’t factor in, and am only now learning how to deal with.
I’ve avoided talking about it until now – not only because of the aforementioned feeling stupid thing, but also because I had this even stupider thought in the back of my head that admitting any kind of weakness would make it seem like I’m rubbish at my job. Which, let’s face it, is ridiculous. I know (hope) I’m good at what I do, but hey, there’s that whole not-talking-about-mental-health thing rearing it’s ugly head.
And so – negativity portion pretty much over, onto how I’m dealing with things.
This is still very much a work in progress, and I am 100000% looking for ANY advice anyone can give too!
(And, given that only about 20 people will read this, this is very much a reminder for me to go back to in a month or so to keep me on track, and hopefully give me some way of documenting my progression)
1. ASK FOR HELP
Holy crap, I can’t even begin to express how important this one is.
I’ve very much opened this door already – not only with this blog post, but by letting a few select people know that I was having “a bit of a rough time”. Opening up and asking for help is a scary thing to do, but the vast majority responded with offers of coffee, escapes from London and encouraging conversation. Most of which I still need to take up.
And whilst it’s so easy to focus on the one person who responded by completely cutting me out of their life (top tip: don’t do that to your friends), I’m realising that I’m actually surrounded by some really incredible, supportive people. So if that’s you (and if you’re reading this and know me, it probably IS you), then thank you.
2. TALK TO PEOPLE.
There are so many facebook groups for entrepreneurs, freelancers and people who run their own companies – I’ve been a fairly quiet member of Blooming Founders for a while, but more recently I’ve joined a group of local female entrepreneurs, and met a few for coffee the other week. It’s so refreshing to be able to sit down and just talk to people about what’s going on.
Over the next couple of months, I really want to try and find more groups and meetups to keep me motivated and meeting people. And if I can’t find one I like…maybe I’ll start my own! Hopefully, as those relationships build, they’ll replace the kitchen conversations that I’ve realised I miss so much from working in an office – after all, they’re the points in time where I used to vent, or bounce ideas off people – and there’s no-one to do that with when you work alone!
3. TIMETABLE THE WEEK
I’m kind of being careful with this one, because I overwhelmed myself with a stupidly rigorous plan at first that I couldn’t stick to at all. I’m very much going in baby steps – starting with a few hit points in the week, which I’ll try and gradually build up so that I have some sort of structure in place to get everything done that needs doing.
4. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
I won’t lie, my diet has been appalling in the last couple of months, and it’s another one of those vicious circles – when I’m feeling crappy, self-care gets pushed lower and lower in my list of priorities. Sort of tying into my previous point, my aim is to make meals and exercise some of my regular hit points in the week.
It’s not just about diet and fitness though – I found the worse I felt, the less I was motivated to put on nice clothes and do my hair and makeup, just as I would if I was going to work – of course, it’s different for everyone, but I have really underestimated how much it makes me feel like more of a human being, and less like a zombie.
5. GET OUT OF THE FLAT
Sometimes the physical act of “going to work” is enough to put me in the mindset of getting some work done. I’m considering doing a “work from here” series on here to give me a real reason to get out and find new places to work from – but I know there are days when I’m a hell of a lot more productive when I’ve got out of my room and into a new environment. And if I can get a friend to come along with me, then even better (as proved by my accidental 6 hour stint in Leon with my friend Cat).
6. TAKE A DAMN BREAK
I’m definitely guilty of feeling guilty when I take a break. And by a break, I mean a not checking my emails, stepping away from my laptop and putting on a face mask kind of break. Not having office hours means its easy to spend hours and hours working ineffectively because I feel like I should always be working – but if stepping away from it all for a couple of hours every so often means that I do a few hours of really great work, then that’s a much better way to spend my time.
And it’s important to take full days off too – at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when my “weekend” falls – but a couple of days a week where I don’t worry about work and just look after myself are so absolutely vital.
Right. This has been a long enough post – but I really hope that it’s either been helpful to someone, or that it’ll open up a conversation or two. Because, like I’ve already said, talking is really fucking important. Please do comment, message me, tweet me, email me…whatever takes your fancy. This has been a scary thing for me to post, but an important one.
That’s it. Lizzi out.
2 thoughts on “Self-Employed Problems.”
Love your honesty Lizzi, thanks for posting. And totally agree on your six points!
Hi there! Thanks for sharing, it’s always reassuring to know someone else goes through these stages, too. I was just reading this article (http://www.abbimiller.com/2016/04/19/the-little-trick-to-doubling-your-productivity-asap/) before I read your blog post and thought you might like it. It talks about time-batching and prioritising tasks. Hope that everything is going well for you!