Want real work flexibility? Here are my 5 tips!
There are perks and downsides to being part of a large company as well as working for yourself. For me, the flexibility and satisfaction that comes with running my own mission-driven company have vastly outweighed the perks I once loved in corporate job. But entrepreneurship didn't feel that way immediately; sure, I was loving my work and clients, but from a lifestyle perspective, it took time for me to unlearn my corporate America habits, the things I had never even thought could be different.
For me, the biggest habit shift has been about managing my energy (instead of time).
This has allowed me to be efficient, present and grateful, as much as possible. Wondering what the heck this means? Read on for my top 5 tips to add flexibility to your lifestyle, by managing your energy:
Take control of your mornings
Yesterday: When I intentionally "took time off" in between my finance and coaching careers, I still seemed to jump out of bed, anxiously ready to go. But why? I didn't have anywhere to go! I slowly learned to take control of my mornings, instead of letting them control me.
Today: I started to fully enjoy my coffee, walk the doggie, drink my smoothie and read a bit before I start getting ready for the day. And as I started adding clients, writing and other tasks to my week, I still embraced this routine by not scheduling clients before 10:30AM. It makes me better at my job.
Action for you: Take some time to think through what this can mean for your mornings, no matter what your job entails. Is it going to bed/getting up earlier? Asking your boss to come in a little later? Taking morning calls from home? Ask for it!
Stop assuming your boss is watching you
Yesterday: I always had this feeling in corporate America that someone was watching me, and it followed me into entrepreneurship, I know, it sounds crazy. It was like someone owned me and my time, no matter how great my work was. Skype and Slack, etc... don't help the whole "I'm being watched" mentality but I remember the day I finally set my Lync status to "away" while working from home and said, "F-it." I'm going to the grocery store at 2PM. And it was totally fine; I learned it was mostly me putting too high of expectations on myself (except for the crazy boss or two I dealt with).
Today: I set a policy with my clients that I will return emails within 1-2 business days, unless it's a Friday, I will answer by Monday. My clients actually tell me how much they respect the policy!
Action for you: Identify what you need, talk to your boss about it, and don't compromise your needs out of fear of ridicule or rejection (or being fired). As long as you're doing your work, your boss shouldn't need to keep tabs on you.
Quality over quantity, set boundaries and be direct
Yesterday: When it comes to working hours, many companies still value long hours over delivered value. I remember the 60 and sometimes even 80 hour work weeks, where it never ended. The expectations were way out of whack! Until I started to state my boundaries; and that's when I got promoted to my 6-figure salary. It was pretty cool.
Today: I set expectations, even if no one asks for them. I communicate if something is going to be delivered later than expected, and people understand and accommodate. Because, after all, it's about quality and delivering value at the end of the day. AND, we're human. And, we are multi-faceted! We have things outside of work that we want to enjoy!
Action for you: What can you do to focus more on the quality of your work over the time you put into it? Are you staying late, just because it's the norm? Is that mindset getting old for you given where you are in your career? What are you missing out on outside of work that you'd like to focus more on?
Your job/company/title is not your personal identity, your WORK is
Yesterday: I used to think that my job, company and title defined me, as a human. Who was I without Accenture on my resume? I associated it with false confidence, ego, and how I related to others. But I hated the work I did. I hated who I was becoming.
Today: I have learned, my identity is no longer my company, or entrepreneurship either. It's the work I do, the difference I make, no matter how big or small, and how I show up to it, everyday.
Action for you: Do you like your work? Did you make the world a better place in some way? Even if it feels small, it all counts. Try to focus a lot more on the work you're doing vs. the title you operate under; and if it doesn't feel good. Make a change.
Vacations aren't about getting away from it all; they're about inspiration
Yesterday: I used NEED vacation in order to get away, from EVERYTHING. Because EVERYTHING felt so overwhelming and stressful all the time.
Today: Vacations are about seeing something new, finding inspiration from new sources. As much as I love travel, I haven't traveled nearly as much as I used to. Small things inspire me now, like the changing of seasons, architecture in my neighborhood, etc... When you love what you do, and have flexibility to align your work with your energy levels, it's easier to stay present and grateful for whatever is around you.
Action for you: Are vacations the only time you feel some peace of mind? And does it take you a week to unwind on vacation, and then you finally feel like you're on vacation for the last few days, just to start dreading coming back to "real life?" Start paying more attention to your energy, and you will start to have moments of "vacation" in real life too.