Misconceptions Pt 1: Setting Your Own Hours
One of my "favourite" things people say to me as a self-employed woman is, "Oh, it must be so nice to get to set your own hours and work whenever you want to!" ... Let me take a moment and laugh my fecking ass off!
Okay, okay. **wipes tears from eyes from laughing so hard** There's some truth to this. I do get to choose if and when I take clients, if and when I fill orders, if and when I reply to emails, if and when I attend meetings, if and when I address the ever-growing mound of paperwork on my desks. But it's not what people imagine. When you run a business (or, if you're like me, and you run 2 businesses, a few "side hustles," and are in school), the amount of stuff you have to do to keep your head above water is obscene. Sure, you can choose to just take the day, go lay on the beach (or, if you're like me, either go for a hike or chill in a library or museum). You can just drop everything and go on holiday. You can work for a few hours a day and then go sip margaritas in the Borough and dance the night away. But when you return, one of two things will happen.
1. You will somehow, even though it defies reason, have 3 times as much work to do for DAYS to catch up, or
2. You will have gotten so far behind, damaged your business so much, that either it will take weeks or months to catch up, or you will just go under and end up unemployeed.
Today is a perfect example. As someone who gets to set her own schedule, I was up and making coffee at 0600 (often I'm up much earlier) and started working at 0700. I took a 45 minute lunch break, during which I responded to text messages and emails. I got home from the office at a few minutes past 2015. My amazing partner made dinner while I did an hour and a half of homework, then scheduled out a bunch of social media advertising, worked on a letter to the Board, and followed up with the State on my LLC statuses, as well as my Government Contracting status. I also had to work on finishing the set up for a new software for the program. I finally turned off the computer, took of my glasses of awesomeness, and went to sleep sometime around 2300. In all the moments between tasks, clients, meetings, there's no rest to be found. My mind is still in overdrive, continuing to think, scheme, come up with new ideas, make lists, and brainstorm about how to continue to move forward, serve my target demographics better, and streamline processes. I even organize and plan in my dreams! I shit you not.
Self employment means long-ass days. And it's not a Monday through Friday gig. It's Monday through Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays, too. And don 't forget holidays! Not all days are 15+ hour days, but it's more common that you might suspect. But it's worth it, 100%. If you love what you do, it's completely worth it. Even when it's hard, even when you think you might actually die, it's still worth it. The physical wear-and-tear of such grueling hours is extra noticeable when coupled with neurological and mental health disorders, but I choose to view it as just a deeper level of badassery.
I'm fortunate that all the beautiful things I have my hands in are directly and dynamically improving people's lives. And even on days when I don't see clients, I'm working behind the scenes to grow sustainable organizations that will benefit folks for many years to come. I'm lucky that I do enough things that life doesn't get too repetitive and boring. That's something that's important to me. Variety, spice of life, all that goodness.
So I may always be tired. I may roll my eyes when folks comment on how nice it must be to control my schedule. I may chuckle when people employed by other companies complain about long hours or lack of time off. I may groan when individuals involved in MLM programs tell me that they're entrepreneurs, too, and they 100% understand what it takes to build a business from the ground up. But in the end, I wouldn't have it any other way. Plus, like I said above, I do actually get to control my schedule (just not like people think). Which means after I work my ass off for days, weeks, sometimes months on end, I can take advantage of a beautiful afternoon go be in the mountains, or bask in the sunshine with a good book, or bip down to the city for a lecture or concert. I mean, really, what more could a gal ask for?
(Coffee. An extremely tired gal can ask for coffee.)