A Week of Firsts, or: How I’m Learning to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Busy

What’s in a title, right? Well, to be honest, I’m finding there’s a lot to be said for a decent title – the curse of the writing class. In the last 7 days, I’ve gone from sitting at my messy desk perusing the interwebz (Reddit, Facebook, various biker forums, Twitter, Reddit again), to:

  1. Having a conversation about starting a business (not the first time, actually)
  2. Researching the right type of business to start (also, not the first time)
  3. Deciding on a name (ah! Now there’s a first time…)
  4. Making sure said name isn’t already in play somewhere else (first)
  5. Filing as a for profit business in the Great State of Oregon (again… a first)
  6. Staring at my computer while I try and figure out what to do next (definitely NOT the first time)
  7. Attacking social media with my new business (first time and… does it normally take that many hours to set up profiles and descriptions?)
  8. Partnering with my first client (double first?)
  9. Producing my first blog explaining what I do and why I’m doing it (yup)
  10. Producing my first blog for my first client (also a first)
  11. Explaining to everyone who asks exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing (I’m used to explaining myself… but generally not my business).

Like I said, it was a week of firsts. Fortunately, my first client, Unforgettable Service & Events, was not only pleased with my introductory blog for their company, but they seemed enamored with my second submission for them as well. At the end of those seven days, though, I was surprised to find that, while I felt busy, I really never felt all that tired. Any fatigue was the result of several long days of my regular job combined with late nights working on my growing my business and taking care of client needs.

Reflecting back on this first week, I’ve learned a little about myself and a little about making good habits. Fortunately, I have a wonderful mentor in Dawn, from Unforgettable Service & Events, to point me towards developing better work habits while I nurture my fledgling business. In this age of technology utilization, I’ve found that a good, old fashioned, leather bound, Day Planner is a must for me. While my phone is good for many things (especially distractions), I find that it can’t replace the memory association that comes with writing something down. That, combined with developing the habit of checking my written schedule for the next due item, has actually improved my ability to focus on and finish things. When my phone gives me a reminder from my Gmail Calendar, I tend to dismiss it and go back to whatever I was doing. With my Day Planner, I physically have to open it and flip to the calendar to see what I have in store for the day or what I didn’t complete from days earlier. My phone doesn’t care if I forget about it, but I care if I forget about my Day Planner. I am forced to look at what I need to do and refocus myself if necessary.

While nobody who knows me would ever accuse me of being organized, I’ve discovered that a clean and organized desk (I’ll save the drawers for another blog) produces a feeling that there is only one thing that needs to be done: the task at hand. Since the time I’ve owned a desk, it has had papers, CD’s, movies, dirty dishes, bills, toys, and a myriad of assorted and unnecessary items piled up around my keyboard. This was the norm until company came over… then it was all tossed in a drawer (hence why we’re NOT talking about my desk drawers this time!). With the start of The Likable Scribe, I had to make room on my desk for the aforementioned Day Planner. This feat was simply not possible with my desk in its normal state. With the return of a second monitor, I cleared my desk of its clutter and started fresh with a desk calendar and only those items I needed: a cup full of pens, speakers, assorted radio geekery (did I mention I got into amateur radio? No? Ok. Another blog, another time), the decidedly underused swear jar, and Minnie Mouse from our recent trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. The lack of clutter on my desk eased feelings of things looming just inside the periphery and allowed me to focus on fighting the urge to constantly check to see if anyone had read my first blog while I worked on my second blog (I may have some attention-whorish tendencies).

This first week was abnormally busy, but I still managed to find time to take care of what needed to be done outside of caring for my new business. I tend to be a bit of a night owl, which really doesn’t mesh all that well with my regular day job, especially on morning shift, but I do have the advantage of a four day work week. That extra day off allows me to work on client needs, take care of housework, and spend time volunteering. Although this new normal is much busier than the old normal, in this first week it has been refreshing. It’s been a while since I was truly busy. With my night owl tendencies, I was able to sleep in a little late and putter around the house until it was time to do some real work. When I needed a break from the computer, I headed to the main floor of the house and did work there until I was ready to return to the computer. This cycle repeated itself until the evenings when I would lock myself to the computer, working fairly late into the night.

The positive result of this added new work has had several, hopefully lasting, effects. Instead of spending hours just staring into the computer screen or wasting time on the couch with the remote in hand, I now take very little time to veg out with the light from various electronics washing over me. I save those times for morning while I’m having my coffee and breakfast, dinner with my wife and son, and times when my brain just doesn’t want to do any work. When I take a break from my new second job, I now try to work on things that need to get done around the house. In the last 8 days, I’ve managed to clear out several boxes of stuff to be donated and take it to Goodwill and Free Geek – something I’ve been neglecting for quite some time.

Even though it’s only been a little over a week since I started this endeavor, I realize that in order to grow my business, it’s going to take time and perseverance. The results so far have been encouraging. The feedback I’ve received from my client has been positive, which inspires me to continue growing my business’ social media presence as I continue to grow hers. Although I don’t know where this will lead, I am fairly positive that it has changed me, in some measure, for the better, and I look forward to where I will be this time next year.