Thursday, 4 December 2014

Minions Wanted!

Today, I'm blogging from my sick bed. I haven't updated this blog since early September which doesn't sound like long but so much has happened over the past three months that it seems a distant memory.

You might wonder why I am blogging when I'm ill. Well, I have learnt something new about self-employment that I was already aware of when I started MMD but has become painfully apparent to me in recent weeks: there is no one to cover me. I sometimes forget, when I'm wrapped up in a portrait and only come up for air for a cup of strong tea, that I am in fact running a small business. Every aspect of this, including accounts, marketing and admin, is listed on my job description; there is no one else to do any of it. Yes, I could hire someone to do the accounts, for example, but I'm definitely not in that position and thankfully they currently remain fairly straightforward.

My point is, when life happens, which it does and chooses the most inopportune periods to do so, my work simply has to sit on my desk until I'm in a position to get back to it. There's no calling in sick; no co-workers to take on my workload; there is no pause button. That's scary. Let's go back to my present state of germ-harbouring (sorry!) Yesterday I woke up feeling pretty unwell after coughing all of the previous day. I still dragged myself out of bed, had breakfast, got dressed and got going on my To-Do list.

 I had a lot to do and, with Christmas lurking only a few weeks away, a short time to do it in. I packaged portraits, printed vouchers, answered emails, drew out a new portrait and ventured out into the bitter cold to pay a trip to the post office. By the time I got home, I felt horrendous. There was absolutely NO way I could do any more work. Today is even worse; I woke up early (because I was hot, not because I wanted to) and could only just manage to make myself a cuppa before falling back into bed. I'm not handling it well though because I am VERY much aware that I have so far lost a day and a half of work time. The work waiting for me sits heavily on my mind.

Back in October, my Nanna passed away. I won't go into details because those are personal to my family and I,
but it resulted in my having a fortnight off. I tried to get on with a portrait at the time but I wasn't focused and I didn't want to spoil the piece by forcing myself. Some things just have to wait. There was lots to arrange and extended family were staying with us, so I just took the time.

 I had worked out a schedule for my Christmas commissions and those 2 weeks obviously set me back. I got myself back on track after a while though and began to feel a little less pressured. Right now, I'm worrying every moment I'm not working. That's not healthy and certainly won't help speed up my recovery but it definitely comes with the territory of self-employment.

When there is nobody to cover you, there is a higher level of stress because you can't relax. I know I'll be able to make up the time; I just wish I didn't have to. I also know full well that I have yet to find the balance between work and my personal life. Maybe it isn't completely possible to find a perfect balance of the two. When I do find time for myself, say coffee with friends or a ride on my bike, I find myself feeling guilty for not working. Now, I wouldn't feel like that if I worked 9-5 in an office but, at the end of the day, I DON'T work in an office and my hours are not restricted.

 I'm lucky to be doing what I'm doing and that people continue to commission me; I never would have believed it two years ago. What would be extremely welcome though, is an "off'" switch! If you are in the same position as me, I would love to know how you handle this! Tips will be most gratefully received. In the mean time, please send helpful minions who know their way around pencils!