Image from Akio Takemoto on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

Image from Akio Takemoto on Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

I’ve always loved the motivational phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” that the Brits used in posters to prepare the public for World War II.  But truthfully, over the past few years of owning my own business and balancing it with working for an employer I haven’t always felt so calm.

This past year in particular was a busy one, as I balanced a part-time job at the BC Cancer Agency with doing facilitation and instructional design work for other clients on the side, often getting up to work from 5am to 7am (before the rest of the household woke up) or heading to my home office after 730pm (after we put our daughter to bed) to put in another hour or so more. Luckily the work was all projects I wanted and had sought out to do, but by June I was looking pretty forward to arranging a work life for myself that generally happens between the traditional hours of 9am and 5pm.

The saving grace this year was that I was able to drop off and pick up our daughter four mornings a week at normal end-of-school times and spend the rest of the afternoon with her. This was really important to me, to spend her Kindergarten year with her this way, and I cherish those times we had every day from 2:41 (yes, really) to dinnertime that many parents don’t get to have. Still, it did make my work day pretty long.

Happily, things are changing. In June, my work stopped at BCCA (going onto a dormant casual contract which might revive again sometime later this year or next) and Royal Roads University hired me back in May on a casual on call basis doing instructional design. I’m also working with the Community Social Planning Council right now on two different contracts and have also done some online facilitation lately for RRU. I’m thrilled to be able to work mostly from home and mostly during normal working hours.

Through all this I’ve had some people comment on the whole working-from-home thing. “Oh I couldn’t work from home,” they say. “I wouldn’t have the discipline.” But actually I really love it and am thriving. I AM quite disciplined and organized and working from home helps create that calm mindset that is sometimes elusive when commuting to an office every day. My introverted side loves the quiet of being the only one home, giving me great time and space to focus on my work. Sometimes I get so engrossed in my work at the computer that I’ve had to install an Activity Timer app that reminds me – after a set interval of time that I program in – to get up from my chair and move around. “Great job!” I’ve told it to say. “Now go get a glass of water.” It makes me smile every time.

Not that I’m a recluse, of course. But I love that being “master of my own [time] domain” means that I can schedule in coffees or lunches with people for project meetings, business development or other purposes in and around the “real” work part of my day. The difference is that I get to choose and manage my schedule now, and it’s really working. The other day my manager at RRU said that I seem to be thriving and you know what? I think I really am. Being intentional about my career is very important to me, and this is all part of it. I’ve created a setup that really works for me and I’m loving it.

Of course, I know the “keep calm” part isn’t always going to be easy (and someday I reserve the right to look for a “regular” job again if I so choose!). As an entrepreneur (for the most part) I now know that feeling of “where’s my next cheque coming from…and when?” But I actually find that kind of exciting. And freeing. But still it will be something to balance, keeping that trust – and taking action – to keep business coming in and opportunities abounding. But there’s a lot of work out there and I believe in the concept of abundance.

These days I’m pretty happy and calm…and I look so forward to carrying on.

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