The secret to a happy working week.

by / Tuesday, 16 February 2016 / Published in Government, Lifestyle

I’m guessing that one thing that all of us who set up a consultancy or freelance business have in common is that we saw it as a chance to break away from the 9 to 5 and move closer to the perfect work/life balance. Less time in traffic. more time at the gym, more time walking the dog, perhaps even the odd game of golf in midweek. Sound familiar? Nobody has ever put it better than Nigel Marsh.

In my first few months of going it alone two years ago, I had plans to do all those things. But at the same time, I was so driven by the adrenalin of my new venture I was also working through the day and into the night. My personal tipping point was when I picked up the phone some three months after launching to ring my designer about some obscure detail of typography, only to stop myself as I realized it was 11.30 pm on a Friday night.

Three months after resigning a stressful job to pursue that better work life balance, I was working late on a Friday night. I was smiling, but my poor old dog really needed that walk I’d been promising since Wednesday.

I’ve been lucky to meet and work with a couple of brilliant mentors and coaches over the years and the solution I found for work/life balance first inspired by Nigel Marsh emerged from a combination of all their advice.

In a nutshell, it’s this. Never plan for two consecutive days to be the same.

Anyone who has spent a long time in corporate life will have finessed the art of organizing work through the “to do” list, with all its quadrants and hierarchies. But when you work for yourself, you need to adjust to the fact that in addition to your day job, there’s a few other roles that you have to manage. You have to create and chase your own invoices. Source, develop and close sales leads. Fix your own computer. Update your content. Manage the post room. And the rest.

The good news is that you are your own boss and can decide when to do what. But you’ll quickly find you need more, much more than a to do list.

I use a simple organizational model that helps me keep on top of the many roles I have to play in my business and it’s based on the idea that no two days should be the same. A trusted friend showed me research that says that Tuesdays is the best day of the week to be “selling”. I’ve got a reminder note in my Google calendar and now devote the whole day to it every week without fail.

Mondays and Fridays are days when you can be focused on working “on” the business. Making sure you’ve issued invoices and checking they’ve been paid. Working out at the beginning of the week what needs to be done and then reviewing on Friday that it’s been done. Ordering stuff. Paying bills.

I like to be out and about on Wednesdays and Thursdays and aim to meet at least half a dozen people face to face every week.

And on Saturdays, you could consider being like my friend who routinely switches off her gadgets for 24 hours, including email and web browsing to spend time with loved ones.

The details of the framework are up to you. It’s not designed to be a straight jacket. Life and work sometimes gets in the way. Some days I work a 10 hour day, some I don’t. I work weekends when I have to and accept invites to speak on Monday nights. I write most days and talk to people every day. But approaching every day feeling different, I’m energized and motivated throughout the week.

Which is pretty much why I went out on my own in the first place….give it a try…