Thursday, May 21, 2009

Managing It All

To work for yourself is the OTHER American Dream - getting out from under "The Man" and all the silly inefficiencies, the politicking, and the general crap that often abound in the corporate world. Few will take the plunge, and those that do are often the subjects of much envy by their friends and former coworkers, who dream about more flexible schedules and less stress, and "being your own boss".

Okay, you got me on the flexible schedule. And that suits me, both physically and creatively, more than any nine-to-five (okay, nine-to-seven, at least - who works a 40-hour week anymore?) grind ever did. But being your own boss means you'd better like her, because if she's like mine, she's a perfectionist, a bit of a slave driver, and a micromanager. And you know, she?s always *right there* with you...even when you're on vacation or taking a personal day. She knows how to guilt you better than anyone.

And less stress? Not exactly...I'd say it's a different type of stress. The pressure of knowing that no steady paycheck is coming every other week, no 401(k) is slowly building up, and nothing will get done if you don't do it yourself. And you can't possibly do it all - everything you want to accomplish - as soon as you'd like to; there simply aren't enough hours in any given day, so you always feel like you're not meeting your deadlines.

Running your own business means that you have quite a bit of what's euphemistically termed "job diversification". You wear all the hats: office administrator, payroll department, marketing, sales, R&D, data entry, statistician, web master...

You might notice that I didn't list "artist", "designer", or anything else creativity-related in the above paragraph. Why? Because lately I am struggling with finding enough time to actually do what I love most - make the product. And if I don't have the product, I'm not going to be in business for very long, am I?

One of the toughest things for creative people to do is to find balance between the business side and the creative side of things. Many creatives avoid handling the business tasks because they are not comfortable with more left-brained tasks, or actively dislike these tasks, or are intimidated by them. Others get so immersed in the paperwork / research / marketing aspects that they then struggle to put the artisan hat back on and actually design new products.

I find myself falling into the latter category lately. I made jewelry as a hobby for many years, and my creative hours were often "stolen" hours - after work, when I had a bit of time, or I?d make jewelry late into the night - or on weekends or vacation time. Now the jewelry I make is my business product, and I still feel guilty about stealing time away to make it. I don't enjoy the administrative aspects of my business, but they need to be done...the problem is, they don't seem to ever *get* done. There's always something else on the to-do list that cries out for my attention.

But sometimes, I just have to put the to-do list away, sit myself down at the worktable, and create. And that's exactly what I'm going to do today. *s*

Original post date: 8/18/05

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