A lot has been said about being a hustler when you are self employed. You only have to type the word hustle into Pinterest and you will bring up so many motivational phrases and memes all about hustling. It seems particularly synonymous with women in business with so many of these pins being pink and bearing hashtags like girlboss. I’ll admit I even had Good Things Come To Those Who Hustle up on my wall to give me that kick of motivation. It felt good to say I worked hard, to justify putting so much time and effort into my businesses. When you start up a business it becomes your baby, everything you do has to revolve around its needs, whatever the hour of the day. This is especially true when you’re a one (wo)man band. There’s no one to delegate to, no tech team to call on when your site is down and you’ve got customers messaging you while you are trying to put your kids to sleep. In retail no one sleeps, you can never be off. People expect your service to be 24/7 and I definitely didn’t want to disappoint them and lose any customers. Surely this level of hustle can’t be sustainable though.
If we are working every hour, never relenting or taking time out and reflecting we would all soon burn out. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve experienced it. You cannot live in the hustle, especially not when you have children. We may have the same hours in our day as Beyoncé but we certainly don’t have her army of staff! It’s about being realistic as well as being kind to yourself and those around you. We can have periods of hustle but it can’t be our default mode of working. When I fall into the trap of hustle the rest of my life suffers, the house is a mess, I don’t know what’s going on in the lives of my kids and I can’t focus on anything else. Sure, times like this can be a necessity but they are not a sustainable way of running a business or of living.
When you are running a business or have any kind of self employed profession that’s established (ie not in that early or pre – start up stage) it’s about finding your rhythm of working. You’ve had that hustle season of setting things up and now it’s about ensuring it’s a sustainable way of making your living. This can take many forms and will even be unique to your and your situation. Everyday might be different or you might have a consistent working day with set hours
Take some time to think over what your ideal working week (or start with day if that’s easier) would look like.
Add in your non-negotiable commitments, for me this would be the school run and the kid’s activities and commitments. My work has to work around my family, that’s one of the main reasons that I’m self employed.
Add in the time/day you have work consistently booked in, for example working for a client each Tuesday morning.
Do you want to set time aside for exercise, for hobbies and down time?
When do you do your best work? Are you a night owl or a morning person? Consider this when you are planning your work day and week. I am terrible after 8pm, I always have been. I never even pulled all nighters when I was at uni, it’s like my brain switches off in the evening. Instead I use this time to recharge and only use it for work when I have no choice.
Throw out the 9-5 mentality if it doesn’t work for you. You might be able to work heavily and hard for the first four days in your week and then set aside one day for you, to recharge and be creative. I work 9.30-2.30 each day to fit around my family commitments. Each day is different depending on my commitments. It’s up to me to set the boundaries and ensure I have the work to hit my targets.
Ultimately you need to make your work, work for you. You are your source of income, if you hustle and burn out you risk your livelihood as well as your health. We all have periods of hustle but don’t let it be your default work mode. Set a working week that gets things done but is sustainable in the long term. Giving the time needed to generate income, keep up your creativity and professional development.
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Morgana is a social media coach for small businesses and entrepreneurs, specialising in Instagram and Pinterest. Based in the North West of the UK, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She particularly enjoys a Netflix binge watch and cannot function without black coffee and dark chocolate digestives.
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