How test tube barbies and blogging make for a successful creative consultancy
Over the last week I’ve received many comments from people who read this blog asking me how I ever manage to get the time to write what I write AND do everything else on top. Well, things don’t always work out well and I sometimes run behind (quite a bit behind if you ask some of my clients) but I do get through a staggering amount of work each week and everything that needs doing does eventually get done and yes, that also includes blogging.
This isn’t some ‘and here’s how I run my life, do the same and be awesome with me’ post but I thought it might just help one or two of you to hear about my reality – just in case you read my blog posts then go quietly away into a corner and sob at your inability to churn out a good 600 + words a day ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE. Know this, it really doesn’t matter.
I have to admit to only this week implementing a true schedule for my work. Up until now (and yes, that means the last seven years) my consultancy work has been managed on a ‘oh shit, I’ve gotta do that now’ basis and I run around like a headless chicken pulling it all together. This has led to my sometimes erratic time-keeping and it needs to end. To get anything done I’ve had to rely on my super-human energy levels, 18 years of prior knowledge (much of which has been hands-on, up-to-the-neck-in-factory stuff) which gives me heaps of material to draw on plus I’m all over the ingredient supply chain so I usually know where to get stuff, who to ask and how to solve your yet-to-ask question. All of this does give me a bit of an advantage over someone starting out but working on your wits is exhausting and un-scaleable. So yes, the schedule. It is all part of my master plan to create order where there was once creative chaos.
With all of the above taken into consideration I do my best work in that slightly manic, potentially chaotic head space. I can pull seemingly un-related ideas together and form new stuff and solve problems in ways that are interesting and often profitable. Oh this is sounding like an advert for me about me although I’m not entirely sure it’s putting me on the ‘must buy’ list!
Schedule or not the reality that my little consulting business is going great guns and attracting between 3-5 new enquiries a week – many of which I can’t immediately satisfy means that my love of chaos and momentum is not about to run out any time soon. I’ve just gotta get better at riding it smoothly, and I am!
So along with the me that knuckles down and gets on with a job from start to finish (you can’t invoice if you can’t do it – a consulting reality that is lost on the weekly waged majority) there is the me that needs time to float with the fairies, sit amongst the trees, browse art galleries, read magazines, bush walk, hang out with my family and just process stuff. Blogging is a way of me processing ideas without the pressure of a client deadline or the constraints of a project framework. I write to help me think and process, to pause without stopping – I’m not sure I’m capable of stopping really. Anyway, the bottom line is that sometimes I am just all worked out and can’t face starting another task although I still have more thinking to work through. Blogging does that for me, I guess I’m lucky that way as people do seem to enjoy it – most of it anyway!
Off work me.
Quite frankly this me doesn’t exist although that doesn’t mean I don’t relax and rest. Whatever I’m doing and wherever I am I am working hard, either at collecting ideas or turning those ideas into projects. I recognised early in my corporate career that fitting into a box and doing the 7.5 hours a day for a wage just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I want/ need to immerse myself in a subject, live it, breathe it, feel it and attitudes like that just don’t work in a corporate environment – well, not unless you can construct great boundaries to avoid yourself becoming the office gimp. I ended up burning myself out on a number of occasions because I wasn’t in control of the ‘stop’ button, the more I did and wanted to do, the more I was given until POP goes the head space.
I’ve found that the best way for me to really rest and rejuvenate is to actively take time away from the office by either travelling and taking a family holiday or by going out to our land – a place of no internet and much gardening! I still manage to think about and find new material for work but the pressure is less, the pace is slowed and the environment is more tactile and free and I have control of what comes at me – this, for me is key!
Knowing your own head space and personality.
If I’ve learned anything from owning my own business and interacting with other business owners it has been the importance of knowing and respecting your own head space. I’ve recognised that for me deadlines, pressure from clients, phone calls, panicked emails – other people s demands, energetic exchanges and expectations – are exhausting and must be tempered with some free-flow creativity and space. I can handle everything in time but not at the same time. I used to find myself feeling guilty for making a Facebook or blog post when I had client deadlines to meet but not any more. While I have to be mindful of the time, sometimes the best way to be productive and really make a difference is to stop, rest and centre yourself. It took me a few years to work that out and to stop teetering on the edge of burn out.
So that’s how I do what I do – I work, therefore I am. But I also stop and play and sometimes the only thing you can do is get the barbie’s out!