For a lot of us, life as a full-time blogger/entrepreneur is a future ambition. We’re working the 9-to-5 - or substantially longer - and pouring heart and soul into ventures on the side. Having spent the last few years like this, I wanted to share with you some reflections and practices that help pull me through (not that I'm always incredibly zen about it!).
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything...so don't be afraid to toss some tasks and "tilt". The first part of that sentence is terribly clichéd, but add the second half and it becomes actionable. When you have a working life + a life + a side-project, your to-do list never shrinks.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter that you won’t tick everything off. Let yourself off the hook. If it is important to get a blog post out weekly, and not so important to take a homemade cake to Sunday’s BBQ, buy a cake. Skip the gym (once in a while).
It’s not about being irresponsible; it’s about learning to really listen to you. The following two references help explain this concept. First, read Sarah Wilson’s article on ‘tilting’. I first did almost four years ago and it still resonates with me.
Second, practice Steven Covey’s importance/urgency matrix (he wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). It’s simple but effective. Look it up (I don’t want to replicate it without permission) and try it.
Start an ideas schedule for your creative time. Although I encourage you to be flexible in scooping out niches of creative time, it is important to try to make that time effective. If you just decide on impulse to sit down and “create”, you can feel overwhelmed and conflicted as to what you should be doing. Snap some photos? Research the next post? Work on your site? There’s always likely to be more than one project you’d like to take further.
Get a calendar (hard copy is good!) and pick out a few suitable days. Write down focus points for those days. (As my blog is nutrition related, I jot down recipes or post topics). Practically, this helps me plan things to buy, and visualise my blog and social media content.
Psychologically, it relieves me of having too many ideas on the go, and reduces time spent agonising “what should I do right now?”. I have a monthly brainstorm, map out rough times for playing with my ideas, then more-or-less roll with it.
Remind yourself why you got into this, and be fond of your endeavours. If your world is anything like mine, it’s full of people who are doing something kind of similar to you, except they don’t have another job and can access more time and different opportunities. It irks you, and in a busy, dead-tired state, it can make you feel downright resentful. The world becomes black-and-white: entrepreneurial freedom versus stuck in a job. But reality is not black-and-white.
I love blogging, studying and interacting with new foodie friends. But I also appreciate earning an income that funds a house, lots of travel and another degree. Working brings certain freedoms, and though it takes away time it can gift the capacity to invest in your passion without pressure. Others feel a much more acute need to make their projects succeed, and some probably envy your position. Don’t look upon your side project like “another job”.
Play, do it because you want to. You may expand (or deflate) a project at your whim; that is a special kind of luxury. Don’t compare yourself and trust the process. You are exactly where you are meant to be.
Monique Cormack is a lawyer-turned-nutritionist currently completing a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine). When she is not working or studying, Monique likes to keep busy sharing healthy recipes and nutrition tips over on her website Nourish Everyday, as well as indulging in the odd catering, coaching or presentation job. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.