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Working For Yourself: Month Nine (Balance)

{Me, on vacation, with the text of The New Yorker all over me}

This month I spent half of it halfway around the world on a mostly-unplugged two week vacation. I spent the other half of it back in San Francisco, hard at work. And I’m typing this from a runway in Seattle, on a delayed flight to come back home after moderating the Offbeat Empire panel at Geek Girl Con this weekend. That sort of sums up this month: wonderful and nuts. Or as I like to think about it, finding balance between two extremes.

Self employed small business owners are always telling me how they can’t take vacations, and I’m always arguing that as a small business owner you can’t afford not take vacations. Yes, most of the time self employed vacations are not going to involve international trips (though the more of those we can pull off the better), but if you can’t take time to totally unplug, to stop answering emails, to get out of the office (by which I mean your house), and to just STOP, you’re not going to get a chance to see the big picture of what your business needs, and what you need. The first half of the month I spent time staring into space and napping, lying by the pool and reading the New Yorker (see above), but I also did a lot of on paper journaling. I’d stare into space and think about what wasn’t working in my life and business, and then stare at my journal and write lists, ideas, thoughts. And by the end of the two weeks I had a far better idea of what I wanted my next steps to be, what my big picture goals were for self employment, and what I needed to change right this second. And what I needed to change right this second was fixing my business infrastructure and working smarter. I needed to spend more time doing big picture stuff, and less time focusing on tiny details.

When I got home to San Francisco, within a few short days I’d handed in my final edits on the APW book (It was funny: when I saw the index for the first time, it finally hit me. I’d written a real life book with a real life index, holy shit what was that). And just like that, for the first time since I started working for myself full time in January, I didn’t have a book to write. And the amount of extra time and breathing space that gives you is intense.

So I did common sense things. I talked to my staff to get their feedback about what was working and what wasn’t. We made some invisible to you but huge to us editorial changes (hint: edit flow and editorial calendar plug ins). I had a long meeting with my accountant where I finally handed day-to-day book keeping over to him, so I could keep track of what I was making on a month-to-month level, instead of only doing the books in a flurry of stress once a quarter. (Hint: just because you can do it yourself—and I’m good at Quickbooks—does not mean you should.) I worked on my 2011 budget. I made the first steps on building a foundation for new, post-book projects. And I even took an afternoon off now and then, to enjoy the finally-emerged-after-an-awful-foggy-summer San Francisco sun. I started a needlepoint project, so I could calm my mind after a busy day of working online. I spent a little more time with my husband.  And for the first time this year things felt a little bit easier. I had a little more time for gratitude. I had time to think about how this blog has grown since my full time leap in January, and how amazing all of you guys are (even the quiet ones).

And then this weekend I dashed up to Seattle to Moderate the Offbeat Empire Panel at Geek Girl Con. I’d never been to Seattle, which is very pretty. But mostly it was amazing to spend the weekend with the Offbeat Empire team. Ariel and I kept cheerily introducing each other as, “This is my closest competitor,” which is totally true. But it’s great to live in a world where I can hang out with my closest business competiors, and we can trade advice, and try to help each other create more awesome. And my roomates the two different nights, Megan Finley, Managing Editor of Offbeat Bride, and Cat Rocketship, Managing Editor at Offbeat Home, are awesome, hilarious, smart ladies. And that was even better.

So onwards and upwards. I hope to close out the last of this year with more balance, more breathing, and more sharing of ideas. And oh yeah, a book I wrote. Because that’s totally happening too.

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