I don’t like to share much personal information. I like to keep it light but professional. Being a solopreneur is GREAT! I have total control and autonomy over my schedule. I do what I want, when I want. I have built flexibility into my schedule to handle heavy-thinking days and light-thinking days. I can work pretty much wherever I want so long as I have my laptop with me, and if I want to take a day or a week off, I can, and no one will really notice.
That being said, I am facing an issue I think a lot of solopreneurs face. What happens when you have chronic illness? Maybe it’s not your chronic illness, but you’re primary carer for a family member with debilitating illness. My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has recently resurfaced with a vengeance. If you aren’t familiar with CFS, the best analogy I can give you is this: when you go to bed, you plug in your phone, assuming it will be fully charged when you wake up, right? WRONG. The battery stayed the same, or even went down by a percentage point. All day, you use your phone, assuming it will charge overnight, and again, it doesn’t. It’s like the connection is broken. The battery WILL. NOT. CHARGE.
Same for me. My internal battery isn’t charging, no matter how long I’m plugged in. Currently I operate in the red zone (less than 20% charge). It’s hard to work on even a light-thinking day when my brain is mush. It’s hard to get into the office when I don’t have the strength to move. I saw a great quote in an essay I read: “Being active online is very different from being active offline.”. I will reply to e-mails quickly from my couch, but if the laptop is at the office, there’s not much chance I will get actual “work” done for a client. (I’ve solved this for the most part by now having two fully-functional laptops – one at the office and one at home as a spare.)
- I’m realizing that I do what a lot of other entrepreneurs with chronic illness do. I build my schedule around my health. For me, this means only taking one client appointment per day. Gone are the days of going from an early morning networking event, to a client appointment, networking lunch event, client appointment, meeting with a prospective client, networking happy hour or dinner, then home to work on e-mails. I do a max of one networking event and one client appointment per day. That way I can either get work done at the office (in my slippers!) or I can go home to rest for a while.
- I pack my lunch almost every day, and lately I’ve been packing my breakfast too. I don’t sleep well, so I am at the office around 7am. I usually have my nutritious hash (don’t get me started on diet, but I’m obsessive about the nutrients I put into my body) and herbal coffee while working on e-mails, figuring out my client schedule and scheduling my work periods.
- As much as possible, I use my lunch break to go to the gym and get in some physical exercise. Some days or weeks that works, others it doesn’t. Then I eat my lunch while working on client projects in the afternoon.
- And like others, I can get so wrapped up in work and projects I don’t notice my energy level is drained until I get home and I don’t have the energy to eat dinner.
- I’m learning to take advantage of resources. I moved to an online accounting platform that automates a lot of my billing/follow-up. I now have an online service for tracking down client paperwork. And in the next week or two, I’ll be adding practice management software to my firm to stay on track of projects & workflow, as well as send automated client reminders for tasks waiting on the client input.
I’m proud to say I don’t think my clients have noticed (much). When I’ve mentioned I’m ill, they all have assumed cold or the flu, but it hasn’t impacted my work with them. I still take on new clients, I still follow up with old ones. I’m doing my best to stay on top of my marketing and outreach program. And I still volunteer every Friday. Instead of volunteering six plus hours, I’m down to two-three, but it’s still volunteering. I’m still making the effort to be present in my life. And I’m still dating. There’s got to be something said for making sure my work/life routine stays as normal as possible.
What tips and tricks have you come up with to manage competing priorities of health and business?