Taking care of yourself as a creative business owner
This time of year is pretty crazy for us creative small business folk due to one word, Christmas. Yup, orders for Christmas gifts go through the roof and we don't stop until that very last special delivery parcel has been sent out. We then collapse into our Christmas dinner and wonder how we got through the last few months of non stop making, packing and posting without having a meltdown.
As someone who has literally been embroidering personalised orders until the small hours every day from November to December each year, I am going to try and take good care of myself this year, so that I don't faceplant into a plate full of turkey, spuds and gravy.
With this in mind, I've put together five key things that I'm going to try and put into action. These might be useful for any other fellow small businesses and solopreneurs out there.
One year I pretty much lived off peanut butter and jam on toast for weeks because I didn't have time to cook a proper meal for myself. The lack of nutrition did not help with my energy levels.
The following year, what with living on my own, I knew I needed to take better care of my diet and put a plan in place if I were to eat properly and have more energy. And so, every Saturday I would cook up big batches of meals and freeze individual portions to get me through the week. Meals included recipes that were easy to prepare, cook and that were healthy too, such as soups, stews, stir frys, pasta sauces, curries, steamed fish and veg. None of these recipes were difficult or even took that long to cook but the main thing was that they were healthy, filling, and most could be heated up quickly.
If, on the other hand, you don't live on your own and have someone who is happy to cook, let them help. You can always return the favour.
Sleep and exercise
I cannot stress how important it is to get a full, solid night's sleep. You will have way more energy and be more efficient packing those orders up the next day.
If you have no choice but to work late because you have some urgent orders to attend to, make sure you have a point at which to stop and go to bed. Alternatively, get up later the next day. If orders are getting out of hand, meaning you simply can't do this, remember you are not superhuman and it is ok to extend the delivery date on your online shop.
Exercise is such a tricky one to fit into this busy time of year I always find but it is important to keep up energy levels. The way I am trying to do this is by making exercise part of my working day, so that I don't feel guilty about spending time on it. For example, I walk to the post office every day to drop off my orders and walk the long way home to turn it into a 30 minute walk. I also try and stand up from my desk and do stretches every hour, so that I don't stiffen up. Each weekend I also make sure to fit in a long walk or swim to really get the bloody pumping. I always feel so refreshed afterwards and ready to tackle the next pile of orders!
Ask for help and support
If it's really getting too much, don't suffer. Ask your nearest and dearest for help. It could be anything from cooking, putting some washing on for you, doing a food shop or parcelling up some orders and even nipping to the post office for you. Also, remember to get in touch with your fellow small business pals online too. A 30 minute online chat to give mutual support works wonders. I would totally be lost without my online mates and they know who they are! ;)
Block out time to rest, relax and have some "me time"
I honestly don't know how I just wrote that because every year I don't put any time aside for myself at all, which is terrible. This year it's going to be different, honest it is but the only way it will be is by blocking out time for myself. I'm currently thinking 30 minutes a day to read, knit or draw and also booking some weekends away, so that I'm not tempted to do some extra work causing to over-tireness. Having this "me time" is so important for your state of mind. It's like mental exercise, giving your brain a refreshed approach to tackling business.
Pat yourself on the back
It is so important to give yourself a huge pat on the back for all the hard work you're doing, maybe a little treat too. Nice things you could do include: taking a long bubble bath, treating yourself to a big bunch of flowers, buying a massive slice of cake for just you to eat, buying two massive slices of cake for just you to eat or buying a whole cake for just you to eat, after you've had that nutritious meal you cooked up earlier of course, ha-ha! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you tell yourself how awesome you are and remind yourself why you started running your business in the first place. PEOPLE ARE BUYING YOUR PRODUCTS AND THAT IS FLIPPING AMAZING!
I hope this helps all my fellow creative and indie business folk out there. If you have any top tips for handling the seasonal workload, do send me a tweet, come chat with me on Instagram or drop me a line in the comments field below. Good luck everyone and have a great season!