Good morning, Thursday Crafthackers!
I’m going to bring you something a little different, and you’ll be seeing a little more of these types of posts coming over the next number of months. Many of us want our job to be something we love, and those of us that are crafty often think it is a brilliant idea to turn our hobby into a business. It can be a great idea! But, I find that when it comes to business, especially making a business out of a hobby or something that you love, finding that balance between work and life, between complete immersion and sanity is a very difficult thing.
This may not be quite a DIY, but a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to take care of yourself when you’re looking at running your own business. As soon as you become serious, it can be so easy to lose yourself in the thing that you’re doing. It’s easy to put in the hours because you love it, easy to put all your energy into it because it’s your baby. Is that the right thing to do, though?
I will share some of the things that I’ve learned, and also the things that I had to come to terms with, as I post these articles. I found that working from home on my own business was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. When I went to an appointment with my doctor, she commented on how nice it must be to work from home, how stress free and how you can eat healthy and clean the house whenever I have time. I looked at her and knew that she could never understand the struggle of finding the work life balance as an at home entrepreneur.
One of the most important things in finding this balance is knowing yourself. Really knowing yourself. Are you a great solo worker, or do you like to work in a team? Even if you’re great at working on your own, do you like to have people around? I learned the hard way, myself, that I need people around me on a regular basis. I like people, I like to be social, I like to have the movement of others around me, even if I’m doing a solo project. I had to make a difficult decision, when I learned that I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be, working from home to create my dream.
I needed to be productive and interacting with the public. So I got a part time job working in a retail environment. It took a little while to understand that I wasn’t giving up on my dream by taking this other job. It sure did take some time away from my business, and that’s a hard thing to get used to. After working for a couple of months I realized I made the right decision. I was happier, I was making friends, and I found that my at home work time was more productive and energy filled. I think it’s super important to take an extremely close look at how you work best, and find a compromise that works for you. I think it’s important to note that your mental well being will translate to the well being of your business, and you need to make sure that you’re taking care of all parts of yourself.
Do you have the discipline to make a schedule, to make deadlines and stick to them? Working from home can make it easy to shrug a job off and to procrastinate. To, say, leave your work for an hour and then come back to it. To do a chore or just take a couple hours for yourself. The beauty of working from home is that you can do these things, but sometimes it can be easy to forget – you’re working, and while doing the odd chore to give yourself a break isn’t a bad thing, it can be a slippery slope to pushing back the work you need to do because… well… let’s be honest. It’s work.
So how do you balance yourself at home? There’s no simple answer, and truth be told, it is no easy task. One of the best ways I’ve found is to set a schedule for yourself, including breaks and lunches, to keep yourself on the right track. Outside of your scheduled hours is when you can do some of the household upkeep or taking time for yourself. Unless you know when you are working and what your expectations are of yourself, then how can you perform in the way that you would like? Just like a job outside the home, you need to know what is expected to be able to do it. Working without direction is one of the hardest things to do, and there’s no reason for it.
To flip the coin to the other side… how do you know when you’re working too much? Or when you’re throwing yourself so hard at the business that other things that were once extremely important to you, just don’t seem to matter so much? The flip side of setting your own hours can mean that you don’t have a limit – that you just keep working until you can’t work anymore. If I’m going to be honest with you, readers, I have struggled with both these problems, and both of them result in me feeling the scales of my priorities being tipped too far in one direction or another.
When you throw your everything into your work, it can be easy to lose sight of family, relationships and friendships. It can become easy to say that you just don’t have time for these things, or that your work matters more. My question to you becomes this: Would you say that if someone else were writing your paycheques? That being said, running your business is a full time job that often requires overtime. But it shouldn’t consume you. Schedule your time off, make time for the family and friends to help you to relax.
I hope that you found some of my revelations helpful to your own well beings, and if you were thinking of going into your crafting business more full time, that you will know to look at these things in your life and try to figure out how to manage yourself to make your life about living, rather than just living to work. I have several other insights which I’ve learned through my years running my own business, and I still continue to learn things constantly. I have to say though, I wish I had someone who had sat me down and had a conversation with me about how emotionally and mentally hard being a business owner can be. That being said, if you can manage yourself well enough, it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have.