If you remember, this year of slow living experiments stemmed from anxiety I had about how much work I knew was ahead of me. Work I was excited to do, yes. But still, work that would require my balance to tilt in a way where I would be doing a lot more working than living. And I wasn’t excited about that. I wasn’t excited because I’d come off three years in startup life, where I can’t even remember how I found time to maintain this blog, let alone spend time with family or friends. I wasn’t excited because I then hustled so much in my first six months of being self-employed that I suffered from major burnout. I wasn’t excited because I’d learned what really mattered to me—and hustling wasn’t part of that equation.
When you’re not excited about something but know you have to do it anyway, it can have a serious impact on your mental health. In my case, it was adding to my anxiety and taking it to a level where I couldn’t function properly. So, I knew this experiment was coming: the slow work experiment. In fact, I had originally planned on doing it in April, but that’s when I decided to tackle the bigger issue instead. I started going to therapy. I lowered my anxiety. I worked on myself. I consider this the best investment I’ve ever made because it provided me with tools I might never have had otherwise. It has also given me an incredible amount of clarity about who I am and what I want, as well as how I want to achieve it.
Now, it’s time for the slow work experiment.
Fortunately, I am excited to say this experiment is going to look a lot different than I had originally expected it to. I thought I would be focusing on productivity experiments, and making sure I was taking lots of breaks and days off, but I don’t think I need much help in that department. Am I doing things perfectly? I’m not saying that either. I could certainly use a little help setting up new systems and staying organized. But nobody needs to remind me to take breaks or take time off. In fact, I have two trips this month (for Thanksgiving and FinCon) and I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing while I’m away on both. (Other than speaking at FinCon! If you’re coming, I’m talking about how to write “Rockstar content” on Thursday morning.)
Instead, the only “experiment” I’ll be doing this month is an extension of something I started doing last month: tracking how many hours I’m working. The hours themselves don’t mean much, but my goal is to see if I’m working on the projects I claim are my highest priorities. It’s like tracking your spending and seeing if your money is actually going towards what you value most. I want to make sure I’m putting my energy into work that matters.
I’m also going to spend some time outlining the projects I want to complete and setting realistic expectations of when I can do it all. I’m not unique in that I often think I can do a lot more than is possible, and either feel frustrated by the lack of time or disappointed in myself, as a result. Having goals and dreams is a good thing, so I’m not going to limit the possibilities of what I can do. I just want to be realistic about when I can do it.
Finally, I get a lot of questions about how I’ve grown this blog, built an audience, etc. I’ve given short responses in email and on social media, but I thought it might be time to turn my answers into a blog post or two. Long before I ever embraced minimalism or slow living in my personal life, I’ve always been very intentional with this blog. More than anything, I have intentionally ignored the advice that’s out there re: how to be “successful” at this and always done things in a way that felt good to me. If you’re interested, I would love to share some of the rules and boundaries I’ve created for myself and stuck to since the beginning. (Trust me when I say it has been a slow process, but slow growth feels better to me—and is so much more manageable.)
Experiment #8: Slow Work
- track how many hours I work every day (and how many per project)
- set realistic expectations of what I can get done (with timelines)
- explore other creative outlets (this could be fun – stay tuned!)
- share how I slowly grew my blog (incl. dollars + blog stats)
- share plans for what’s next :)
One thing I can tell you right now is I have no anxiety about the work that’s ahead of me. It almost felt as though the anxiety about work completely disappeared after I stopped freelancing. Managing multiple clients with multiple deadlines (and multiple late payments) was taking up a lot of energy and time. And then it was just gone, and the energy and time came back and flooded me. It has felt incredible.
Carrie and I talked about this on the podcast in August, but when you say no to one thing, you’re saying yes to something else. By saying no to freelance work, I’ve said yes to myself. I’ve said yes to this blog. I’ve said yes to my ideas. And I’ve said yes to you. Because the projects I can work on now are for you. Not clients. You. And in doing them together, I think we can create something pretty amazing.
Is there anything you’d like me to write about this month?