Friday, March 9, 2012

March REVolution: Work

March Madness: It's Not Just About Basketball!
(Note: It is a testament to the subject matter that I began this blog post on March 4 but didn't get around to posting it till March 9.)

Having focused on God in February, it was only fair to give Mammon its due in March. And so this month’s REVolution is dedicated to work.

As most of you know, I am happily self-employed and have been since 1988. Although it was never my intention to be a freelance proofreader, writer and editor, fate had other plans, and by the time my business got off the ground, I knew the only way I’d return to a corporation was kicking and screaming.

That is not to say that self-employment is a perfect situation. Losing the security of a regular paycheck takes some time to get used to. Landing a new client means having to re-experience that “first week on the job” feeling a lot more often than is comfortable. And let’s not even discuss insurance. But perhaps the most challenging part of my job is budgeting my time. So that’s what I’m focusing on this month.

The advertising and marketing business has always had a reputation for tight deadlines and working under pressure. And that's only gotten worse as technology has sped things up. Unfortunately, there are certain things that don’t lend themselves to speed, and proofreading is one of them. Nevertheless, the perfectionist in me attempts to shove that knowledge to the background and pretend it can be done. That inevitably results in my throwing up my hands at some point and crying, “I can’t take it anymore!” Not healthy for anyone. And not at all productive.

March is traditionally my busiest month – in fact, people who don’t know what I do assume I’m an accountant because it coincides with tax time. Every year I think, ‘Maybe this year will be different,’ but it never is. So it’s time to march forth (on March 4 – gee, I love irony) with a plan this year:

  1. Budget my time. There are still only 24 hours in the day, and for my sanity I choose to spend only a third of them at work.
  2. Delegate. This is my Achilles heel. No one does it as well as I do. But I need to let them try. Maybe even teach them. What a shocking thought!
  3. Say no. OMG, this is hard! But when I know I can’t do it or can’t do it right, who am I helping by agreeing to do it anyway? Not my client and certainly not myself.
  4. Take a break. This is the second year in a row that I’m scheduling a long weekend during March. Can I afford it? Maybe not. Can I afford not to? Absolutely not.
My suspicion is that when March 31 rolls around, I will be a happier and more productive professional for having tackled March Madness head-on this year. Stay tuned!

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