Work smart, not hard
Call me psychic, but I knew from the get-go this was going to be a problem. I’m not a workaholic; I just don’t know when to stop. (Ha! Spoken like a true addict.)
I have been putting some crazy hours into getting my company afloat. In addition to chasing contacts, writing stories and pitching them to clients, I have been doing shifts at an online newspaper, doing a total of 36 hours in four days. When I’m not doing nine-hour stints at that office I’m working on my own assignments.
If I do a late shift I start at 2:00pm and finish at 11:00pm. Before I even get there I’ve already done five hours of my own stuff at home. In total I work a six-day week, roughly eight to 14 hours a day.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for sympathy. Shoveling coal or wiping a sick person’s bum is far more unpleasant than tapping away at a computer in a warm room guzzling coffee. But I’m exhausted and stressed. Thankfully I have close friends who have taken me in hand. My mother has metaphorically put her hand to my forehead and said: “Stop.”
The words “nervous breakdown” and “early grave” have been mentioned. Since then, I’ve cut back on my hours, got more sleep and prioritize better. Then I read an article that said working long hours increases a person’s risk of getting depression. Case closed. The Universe got its message across.
Life is not a competition
Some of the best tips and contacts I’ve been given came from the head of another news agency. Yes, she’s a friend but she’s also a fellow journalist.
News is a cutthroat business. I always lived my professional life according to one rule: “Never trust a journalist.” You can be the best of friends with someone, but never let your guard down. If you’re sitting on an exclusive story don’t even hint you’ve got something in the works.
So I was very surprised when this person threw open her address book and revealed how she pitches stories to newspapers and magazines. Her motto: “There is enough work for everyone.”
She’s right. There is a community of freelancers out there quick to offer me tips and moral support. I couldn’t have got through this past month without them. So overall I’ve learned that while I may be my own boss I’m not running this company alone. Without the support of key people there would be no business, because I AM the business. If I run myself ragged trying to do everything by myself I will ultimately have nothing to show for it. Then where would I be?