The truths we live by

Field of red, white and pink tulips

Photo – author’s own

I used to work in a world where the question “How are you?” was answered with “busy”.  That was considered a positive response.  I don’t miss those days.  But have I found a new truth?

When I catch up with former work colleagues, they talk about the intrusion of work on their lives. For some time the work mobile phone has not only been an essential business accessory, it seems to have a permanent place on the bedside table. With increasing globalisation of businesses, meetings now seem to be scheduled any time that suits the host office … regardless of the time zones of participants. People talk about teleworking and freelancing becoming more prevalent, presenting a new set of challenges: morphing your home into your workplace and back again, each day.

How do you manage the blurring of boundaries of work and life … or even just the “boundary-lessness” of work (ie you don’t have a life)? And – how do you manage that and keep your truths?

Boundarylessness plus busy-ness means it is so easy to get lost. It is easy to lose sight of what is really important. I just read 10 Truths About Life We Forget Too Easily on Inc. I have listed their truths below.

10 Truths About Life We Forget Too Easily

Source: Adapted from 10 Truths About Life We Forget Too Easily by Travis Bradberry http://www.inc.com/travis-bradberry/10-truths-we-forget-too-easily.html

In looking for a more flexible lifestyle, I chose to step away from the boundarylessness and busyness.  I chose to have a life.  And I can safely say I don’t miss the jungle of “stuff” going on all the time. But, I do sometimes miss its structure.

Did I just write that? What do I mean – do I miss bureaucracy?

Despite having a work/life that is more flexible, where I organise myself, set my own regimes and “my own truths to live by”, I find I need some of the organisational structures to make it work.  The thing I grapple with at times is “boundary-creep”. The freelancing/consulting work that I have been starting to ramp up has no rhythm to it yet.  When it rains – it pours – and I have proposals to submit, meetings to attend and face-to-face work to deliver.  Other days – nothing and the various sites I subscribe to, get my attention. I go down all sorts of avenues, learning a lot, but not always something useful or relevant at the time.

One thing I have noticed, is that I am not alone.  There are many freelancers who share this challenge.  I have read many posts with both confessions and tips to overcome the “distractor factor”.  One person suggested a timer that “pings” every hour – a trigger to check they are on task.

The answer for me, is in getting a routine going.  I like to start the day with exercise – get the blood pumping and the oxygen circulating! Then scheduling means putting in time each day to work on the “important but not urgent” tasks as well as allowing space for the urgent ones.  Variety is important.  So is coffee and being social.  Which leads us back to where we started – what are MY truths then?

I think I can subscribe to some truths listed above …

  • you’re living the life you created – or are creating, and so it is an evolving thing to find out what works, what doesn’t and remember the alternative, to go back to the way things were
  • being busy does not equal being productive – helped by a clear sense of purpose and what you do AND don’t do – and sticking to it!
  • life is short & live in the moment – and based on the preceding truths, this is the “why” behind what we do
  • great success is often preceded by failure – probably prefer to frame this in terms of learning from errors, and we all do that but it is our attitude to it that matters

Some of my own

  • be the best you can – without compromising the above truths, but go to bed thinking you have given your best shot and you can have another go tomorrow
  • learn from others – learning is such a social activity, that connections with people are important – real or virtual
  • appreciate what you have – even if you are having a bad day, there is probably a lot you can be thankful for

This lifestyle choice is presenting me with lots of opportunities to learn about myself.  The parts that I thought I would be good at managing are proving otherwise.  The things you take for granted in organisations – that you sometimes move away from – are those that you need to bring back into your life, albeit in other ways.  I have no manager to report to and am accountable only to myself (and my Monsieur Controleur of course!).  So periodically, I lose the plot and have to go back and remind myself of the truths I say I live by.  Ah – the journey metaphor springs to mind again!

Does any of this resonate for you?  What are the truths YOU live by? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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