Okay gals, we love working from home just as much as you, but to lead the future of work, we're going to need to ditch the yoga pants and the pyjamas once in while and get out of the house.
It may be time to take the work day back.
I know many of us started solo careers so that we could shake the shackles of the 9 to 5, but our hyper-connected digital lives are creating a space for us to work anywhere, anytime... and it seems that might be exactly what we're doing.
And of course, those of us working as solos are not the only ones feeling it. The blur of the line for sending and replying to work email and posting to social media has all of us too often feeling the need to work all the time. And we all understand why. It seems that even when we try to put that darn smart device away, we wonder and worry what we might be losing out on if we're not checking in. And in doing this, we're actually forgetting what we are indeed losing out on - the life in front of us that very moment.
Was that what we wanted?
Far too often our shift to being a solo leaves us feeling so dependent our on smart devices to stay 'connected', 'in the loop', and at the 'fore of everyone's mind' that we can forget that real connections come when we meet face-to-face, have conversations, extend ourselves, teach one another, learn, talk, listen, socialize, and make friends, and build community.
Because how connected can we be to the people, places, and experiences that are happening right in front of us when we're constantly pulled away and looking at something else; literally or metaphorically.
So in the spirit of building a work lifestyle that really works, here are few ways to consider unplugging with confidence in order to possibly connect authentically.
- Set working hours. Do this for you and for your clients. It doesn't have to be Monday to Friday 9-to-5 if you don't want that, but being clear about when you're available will help you get comfortable leaving that voicemail or email until 'opening hours'. Letting your clients know when your shop opens and closes will also help them understand when to expect to connect. This clarity in communication will make everyone happier.
- Power-down to promote creation over consumption. There is plenty to consume. Plenty. You'll do yourself and your business a favor if your 'creating hours' outweigh your 'consumption hours'. Make sure and tip your scale toward creation.
- Better manage your time online with smart tools. There are several online tools that can block access to specific websites for different time periods, like Selfcontrol, or that can completely disable your internet connection for a defined time period, like Freedom. Try them!
- Take extended technology breaks and build them into your calendar. This might be for certain hours or certain days, and when you get brave enough this might even be for certain weeks. Planning these technology breaks helps you be more mindful and intentional about your 'tech breaks' and helps you build the discipline to step away from that phone.
- Host unplugged events. Go on, give it a try. It's really okay if there are no social media photos to confirm all that fun at your event!
There really is no one 'right way' to unplug from work, so do what makes sense to you. But try unplugging, if for no other reason than to know, that we can still connect even when we're disconnected.
Co-Founders of the recent startup, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™, Megan and Corinne have been building portfolio careers over the past 25 years that have taught them to work smarter, live fuller, and carve their own niche. Here they share some of their learning.
Find a community. Working solo is great, but not if you’re siloed. The promotional power of a community will put a spotlight on you more than you can independently. So find your people, know your tribe, meetup, chat, join a board, volunteer, play a sport, coach, take a class. It’s imperative for your personal and professional growth that you find a place of belonging - somewhere you can make a contribution. It is foundational, and can be the basis of establishing meaningful work.
Foster collaboration, not competition. There’s no corporate ladder to climb and no glass ceilings to shatter in your portfolio career so embrace this new work paradigm and shift the metaphor. There’s only space for one person at a time on that ladder anyway! Instead start lifting and linking others, and let your work life have the breadth and exploration of rock climbing, not ladder climbing. Mountains offer more; there’s more to see, more to explore, more to discover. So help someone find a new path, reach out your hand in someone’s aid, support a colleague from the bottom as you watch their ascent. Why? Because it feels great, and it’s more likely that they’ll do the same for you. You know what they say about that rising tide, all ships float. Plus those blue skies while you’re climbing together are just so much better than any ceiling, glass, or otherwise.
Connect by knot-working versus networking. Think about it. The best work comes when we don’t even feel like we’re working. The idea of knot-working is to truly build authentic relationships in authentic ways, well beyond passing out business cards at happy hours and adding people to LinkedIn. So make friends. Share your work. Tell your family about what you do. Display it. Write about it. Let others engage in it and engage with you. The power of personal connections is what builds sustainable professional relationships, so give knot-working a try. It might be exactly what you want from your portfolio career.
Establish an accountability partner. For real. Having weekly check-ins, on the phone or in-person, can totally change the time you spend working. Set goals together. Create timelines. Make lists. Then support each other. Offer feedback. Learn to receive suggestions and critiques. And be generous to each other.
Set boundaries. You’re juggling this portfolio of work presumably so that you are empowered to determine how you work, when you work, and what projects you want to take on. Portfolio careers are all about reconfiguring the work + life equation over and over to create the best you. In order to do this, take the time, every year, every month, or whenever it makes sense to write down your personal policies for work and your rules for engagement. Seriously, write them down. Post them predominantly. Return to them often. Share them with your accountability partner. Then stick to them.
The portfolio career truly offers the promise of establishing the right work life balance for you. But be patient, good work takes time to build.
We Didn’t Set Out to Be Entrepreneurs. Why Steadying the Scales of Work-Life Balance Compelled Two Women to StartUp.
Megan and I did not necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.
Megan build an amazing career in fashion and design, climbed the corporate ladder to executive positions in prestigious organizations, shaped brands that changed an industry, traveled the world, was granted patents, was featured on Oprah, made movies, and even dreamed up experiential cruise ship voyages. She earned a top salary, and was beloved by her staff and colleagues. Her nurturing and generous spirit extended through her leadership where she taught many, especially women, to fully embrace the ampersand and be powerful & feminine, direct & kind, humorous & focused, collaborative & independent.
As life changed, as it’s so apt to do, Megan did too.
Children grew, relocations happened, new interests developed. There was downsizing. And Megan found herself contemplative and eager for a brand new dress to wear, one that could bring her closer to a work-life balance so she could soak up more time with her husband, 3 teenaged children, and her extended family living in different states. She eventually styled her own independent and successful brand strategy and design consultancy business, and after nearly 30 years of leading multimillion dollar projects and being 'traditionally' employed, Megan was now using her talents and skills so she could work when she wanted, how she wanted, and on projects that mattered to her. A flexible schedule with a variety of projects and hand-picked clients suited her as an encore career.
My career story was much more of an 'adapt and go' kind of set-up from the beginning. I loved to teach, I was good at it, and I used it to satisfy my taste for travel, spending the early part of my career in both the Middle East and Europe. When I moved to the US from Canada, I found myself in Austin, TX where I decided to redirect my talents for teaching and writing to an educational publishing company instead of the classroom, and exchange my evenings of grading papers for night classes to earn my massage therapy license - something I’d wanted to do since high school.
But before long, I too, decided to step out of corporate and embark on what I know see as my portfolio career working as an independent: writing, teaching, and educating. Because besides being wearied by the corporate ladder that only one person can climb at a time, there also came pregnancies that were tougher than imagined, relocations, and superhero mom and dad manoeuvres to ensure one of us was always home with our boys - a portfolio career made sense to me. There just wasn’t a name for it then.
Together, Megan and I have a very unique 360 degree view of work. We know both sides of being an independent and working in corporate. We see the possibilities, opportunities, and struggles of both. We know stay-at-home parenting, we know being working mothers. We’ve lived re-entry and are always re-entering so we can routinely adjust the work + life equation. Megan shattered glass ceilings. I stayed off the ladder. We know the merits and downfalls of each.
And we know the world of work is changing. And so do you. You’ve seen the statistics; read the headlines. 70% of us will work freelance in the next 10 years. Lifetime employment is over. The gig economy is the new economy. It’s a Freelance Nation. Our work will come from our alliances, not recruiters, and not employers.
So no, we didn’t necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.
But after nearly 30 combined years of trying to steady the scales of work-life balance, we’re compelled to be.
We’re turning directly to the problems felt by both the independents and the hiring clients in this gig economy and creating a solution. And it is our combined 360 degree view, and our lifetime of experiences that make us uniquely qualified to take on the challenge. We’ve lived the problems, see a path to a solution, and know it’s time for us to step up and lead a workforce revolution.
Join us on our journey.
Because we know in our core that when women come together, link arms, and lift each other up we have the power to change everything.