Self-care For The Solopreneur
Recently I went through a rough time, where a lot of things beyond my control happened all at once in my life. I felt very overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this rough time coincided perfectly with a key time in launching my business. As a solopreneur I had nobody to fall back on to continue the launch, and business opportunities were lost as I had to take a step back to deal with the sudden obstacles. I knocked back clients, my content lost consistency and quality, and I wasn't engaging with my community in the way I should have been. I had the the kind of burn-out that cannot be avoided when you're the only member of your team.
In reaction to this solopreneur struggle I made a pact with myself. From now on, self-care comes first. I was always a big self-care advocate, so with a lot of #selfcare and pro-active planning I can prepare for and prevent similar situations from re-occurring no matter the hurdles life throws at me. Whether it's planning ahead, taking a break or just re-adjusting your focus; there are both preventative and reactive measures to help you stay on track while experiencing emotional stress.
- Plan your content ahead of time
A content calendar can do wonders when life gets away from you. Instead of scrambling to come up with ideas, or forgetting to post content at all, a simple content plan can prompt you to keep posting consistently no matter what's going on in your personal life. I use a very simple "editorial calendar". In Google Docs I've created weekly tables with a column each for my blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest every day of the week. I replicate this table four times to plan a month ahead. E.g. On every Sunday I have the name of the blog I will post and prompts to share the blog post across all my social media channels. Then it's up to me to ensure I have the blog ready to go by every Sunday. Then I use The Gram Gang prompts to plan the kind of content I'd post on Instagram each day of the week, and small reminders to re-pin a certain amount of times a day on Pinterest. Lastly, I use Planoly to schedule my Instagram posts ahead of time so everything is ready to go and all I have to do is hit post when the prompt notification pops up on my phone.
- Batch your photography and blog posts
Batching means to create your blog and social media content in groups at a time. It's quicker and more efficient because you can have all your resources (e.g. photography props) ready and create for several weeks use all at once, rather than having to take the time to create new content every time it's needed. This point coincides with point #1 because planning ahead means less to worry about when times of stress arise. If you've planned anywhere from two weeks to two months ahead, you should be covered should even a tragedy strike.
- Take a temporary social media break
This works a treat for mental health. Delete all your social media apps off your phone/tablet and log out of the accounts on your computer. Just, log out. That's the big secret. When you're really at your wits end you'll be surprised by how easy a social media blackout is, and how rewarding it is when the constant onslaught of content stops. Whenever I travel or lose my phone, the absence always feels freeing. Try it yourself. Going dark for one day should not impact the growth of your business if your accounts and website are still accessible by search terms.
- Take something off your to-do list
Write your to-do list, then take something off it! That is a sweet, sweet feeling of freedom. Remember, there's a difference between being busy and being productive, and being that little bit less busy can do wonders for your health which significantly improves your ability to focus on the task at hand and increases your productivity overall.
- Delegate if possible
Is there anyone else that can do one of your tasks for you? Can you budget for somebody to take over an aspect of business that you hate? As a solopreneur you are in charge of running all aspects of business, including the bits you're terrible at or find boring. But perhaps somebody else offers a service, product or even a guide that can ease the weight of certain tasks for you to make running your business more enjoyable! Or maybe you can offhand one small task via fiverr.com? There's no shame in reaching out for help, and no shame in spending more if it makes your life less stressful. You can go over your budget if the outcome is keeping your sanity.
- Remember you can't do better than your best
Your best is your best, and you can't do better than that. Through practice we are always improving ourselves, and the only way your content will improve is by putting it out there over and over again. It's acceptable to be imperfect, and it's acceptable to make mistakes. Even in times of strife, doing your best is ok.
- Focus on habits over goals
Goal-setting is usually touted as success-101. It's a no-brainer that to achieve success you should be aiming for it. But often we become so obsessed with where we want to be we're not focusing enough on being healthy and productive. Give yourself a break from the expectations, and instead focus on creating a sustainable work-life balance. Practice implementing habits that encourage well-being, and the rest will fall into place over time. Establish systems (such as content calendars and automatic email replies) that help you keep moving forward even through the rough times. If you take care of yourself and focus on putting one foot in front of the other, following the systems you have in place, success will eventually come. Good life habits and good business systems are the two things that will have your back if you stumble.
- Re-evaluate your why
If you're struggling to balance your life and your business, it's time to re-evaluate how you got here in the first place. Think back to the passion that ignited this business. Are you here because you love what you do? Remember that. Remember that your business is not a beast that controls your time and demands your unwilling attention. You are the boss, and you will engage with your business if and when you're ready. Being a solopreneur should bring joy and a sense of empowerment, and if you try to get back to that raw feelings of self-dependence and a love for what you do, you can lift some of the layers of stress that are currently crushing you while you battle to balance your personal life. You choose to be here and you're in charge.
Mindfulness. Headspace. Whatever it is you want to call the pursuit, meditation is universally beneficial. Effectively every successful businessperson now meditates in some way, shape or form. Meditation seeks to release yourself from stressful thoughts and lighten the mental load. Quietening the noise for just a few minutes a day can have lasting effects throughout that day and the next, bringing emotional and mental calm and a renewed ability to focus on the task at hand. Try the Headspace app: You can access their first 10 guided meditation sessions for free forever.
- Schedule time to spoil yourself
You bloody well deserve it. There is no shame in taking a break from money-earning activities to show yourself some love. Take an epsom salt bath, get yourself in a floatation tank, go for a scenic walk, take yourself on a date to the movies with a bucket of extra large popcorn. If due to events outside of your control you are suffering and struggling to stay on top of your business, taking a break can be a better business decision than muddling through and half-assing your work.
When you work alone and have nobody else to watch your back, you have to watch your own. Be your own best friend. When you notice you're starting to crack, give yourself a break. Take care of your physical and mental health above all else. If you don't, you will never build a sustainable business because at some point the cracks will become irreparable. Plan ahead, focus on habits and systems, and take off anything from your to-do list that doesn't needed to be handled by you personally. Lay firm foundations for a healthy work-life balance and over-time the benefits will inevitably pay off. A happy, healthy boss is a successful boss.