This article is a part of a mini-series by Megan Broussard, a career-lifestyle blogger at ProfessionGal.com. Megan is participating in the IBM My Smarter Commerce campaign in pursuit of starting her own business, and she’ll be sharing what she’s learning with us along the way.
Buckle up. It’s probably going to get bumpy.
As you may or may not know, when I’m not spouting career advice on my blog and working to get a business up and running, I have a full-time job as a social media strategist for Don’t Panic Management. I love my job—I handle community management for great clients, we have a cool, new co-working space in SoHo, and our company is growing fast—but, juggling a full-time gig and a budding business (in addition to my blog) is starting to get tricky.
In fact, over the past few weeks I’ve noticed some things starting to slip through the cracks—and it’s made me face the facts about the adjustments I need to make to my life and my work as an entrepreneur. Here are a few of the things I’ve lost control over in the wake of starting my business, and the steps I’m taking to bring back the balance.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been pretty flaky lately when it comes to keeping plans with my friends. They know this, and I know this. And so does the elephant in the room when we finally do hang out.
It’s not that I mean to stand them up. In fact, I have every intention of breaking away from my Saturday catch-up work to go see them. But I find myself getting sucked in—so close to a good stopping point!—and turning into this work addict at Starbucks who’s holding the sides of my computer screen like a slot machine lever and mentally screaming at the barista who’s trying to close up shop, “Just a little more time, OK?!”
And that’s when any plans I had are thrown out the window.
To fix this, I have been constantly reminding myself that taking a break doesn’t slow me down. In fact, it makes me more productive, because when I do get back to work, I’m refreshed and bursting with new energy. Sitting around for hours and hours trying to plow through everything I have to do isn’t making me more efficient, and it’s certainly not boosting my creativity. It’s just making the Upper West Side Starbucks patrons fearful. And that’s not helping anybody.
Since the only time I have to work on my site is after a long day at work, I haven’t been getting much sleep lately—and it’s starting to affect my day-to-day functioning. The other day, I left my sixth floor walk-up, turned the corner, then realized I had forgotten to put on deodorant. Seriously? Aggravated at myself for having forgotten something so simple, I stopped at the drug store to get a travel-sized one for my bag in case this ever happened again. When I threw it in my tote, I saw it nestled next to another one—apparently, I had already done the same thing last week.
The consequences of a lack of sleep can be bigger than deodorant—I’ve started missing scheduled interviews for blog stories and getting behind in responding to advertisement and review inquiries, too. Not okay. I get that sleep deprivation is oftentimes unavoidable when you’re trying to start your own business in addition to managing a 9-to-5 gig, but I’ve realized that it’s pretty important to at least try to set and stick to bedtimes each day. Otherwise, the quick wit and unsatisfied hunger necessary to power through each week as an entrepreneur are quickly overpowered by heavy eyelids.
To whip myself back into shape, I’m aiming to stop work and get into bed by 10:30 PM every night, with the understanding that there will always be more work to do but that I need to be rested to do it. And, to keep myself from lying in bed thinking about all of the things I should be doing, I’ve been setting clear and manageable goals each day. By making a list of five major priorities at work and three things that must be done for my new site every day, I’m able to settle in earlier and rest more comfortably knowing that I accomplished what I needed to.
As a mega-perfectionist and control freak, I started out with the mentality that I could and would do it all. That recently culminated with me trying to do four things at exactly the same time: add some tags in a new blog post, schedule a vet appointment for my puppy over the phone, pour a glass of coconut water, and scoot my laundry basket across the room with my foot. It was quite the sight to behold— and almost led to a major disaster when I spilled my drink on my laptop. Luckily, I had already gulped down most of it, but I could have lost a lot of my recent work (especially since I haven’t exactly had time to back up my data lately).
That incident made me come to terms with the fact that it’s time to release some control and hire a project manager to help me with my blog and site. Delegating seems to be the natural next step for my business, especially since growing an extra set of arms is probably not going to happen for me. At first, this thought totally freaked me out, but then I thought about it like this: If I expect my day-job clients to trust me with their brands, I should learn to trust someone else with mine, too. After all, they’ve become pretty successful thanks to the help of other awesomely talented people.
Sometimes, the only way you realize that it’s time to lessen your load is to lose a few marbles in the process—and, if you’re like me, trip and fall on them. My marbles were a travel-sized stick of deodorant, annoyed voicemails from friends, and a close call with some coconut water. That’s what it took to knock some sense back into me, and hopefully, that will turn into more than just a few more cents for this business.
As I mentioned, I think my next step is to start delegating. So, if you have any recommendations on a new hire who handles social media and site content management, please let me know in the comment section below or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Appreciate your help!