Once January arrives and the ‘new year, new you’ posts flood social media, it can feel like you’ve got to hit the ground running. Just as everyone rushes to the gym in the first week of January (only to give up three weeks later), we tend to throw ourselves back into our business at full speed. We get our new post-its and wall planners out, set the alarm at an optimistic time, and prepare to hit our annual targets within Q1. The thing is, while it’s great to take advantage of the post-break momentum, we also want to make sure we’re working sustainably and that we’re not headed for a February burnout. With that in mind, we chatted to the Found & Flourish team to see how they ease themselves into the new work year.
Take stock of the past year
Before diving into anything new, it’s a good idea to take stock of what you’ve achieved in the previous year. It’s a good moment to celebrate how far you’ve come, and also to take a look at what didn’t go so well. When you’re in the thick of it juggling client projects, deadlines and stress, it can be hard to take a step back and assess how things are going. Now’s your chance, before everyone gets back into full swing. “Use the first two or three weeks of January almost as a company retreat,” suggests Natalia Albin, who’s in charge of design and content at Found & Flourish. “Go through what you’re doing for the rest of the year and how you can achieve your goals. Basically: don’t rush back into the day to day hustle.” Yes, you absolutely can use your new wall planner and work stationary here – have fun with it, and get excited about what’s to come!
Wait until February
Here’s an innovative idea: wait until February for the big ‘back to work’ push. That’s right – who said we need to hustle through January?! It might be the first month of the year, but that’s an argument for taking it slow. After the December madness, make sure you’re properly rested and restored. There’s nothing worse than going full pelt with work when you’re still recovering from one too many mulled wines and mince pies. The best investment you can make in your business is your health, so put yourself first this January. “Although the rhetoric and social media calendars push for January to be a big reset month, when you’re the boss you can decide if that works for you,” says Ellen Donnelly, founder of The Ask. “Consider waiting until February when things feel a bit clearer and you’ve had more time to rest. You get to call the shorts, so don’t feel too much pressure about how things should look.”
Figure out what you really want
It’s easy to be swayed by work ‘trends’, whether that’s working 4 day weeks, growing your follower count, or hitting 10k months (ick). This is your moment to figure out what you really want from your business. Most of us start freelancing or working for ourselves because we want more control over how we spend our time. In reality, running your own business can sometimes feel like you’ve got 7 different bosses in the form of tricky clients, so it’s really important to have regular check-ins with yourself to see if you’re really happy with your current arrangements. “Ask yourself what you actually want from the year ahead,” advises our founder Lara Sheldrake. “What do you need and want in order to be happy?” It’s a big question, but one that’s so important to think about. This January, take a little time for yourself, whether that’s early in the morning before the rest of the house is awake, or on a park bench with a flask of something hot. Get to the bottom of what it is you actually want from your business – and how you can tweak things until you get there. “Make a list of everything, from the income you need to the free time you want to have, who you want to work with, and how you want to work,” says Lara. “This will give you the direction you need in order to run your business with clarity and intention.” In other words, make sure you’re going after what you want, not what you think you should want.
Plan your time wisely
The fresh start means it’s a good time to start doing things differently. Did you feel like time was going at double speed in 2021? Chances are, you could benefit from planning your time differently. When you work for yourself, you’ve got a lot on your to-do list, managing everything from customer service to your finances. If you’re anything like me, you get caught up in the not-so-urgent tasks like meetings that could have been emails, messaging work friends on social media, and doing admin I probably should have sorted out 4 months ago. That leaves very little time for deep work – in other words, the stuff I really should be spending my time on. In 2022, I’ll be following the brilliant advice of Found & Flourish’s community manager, Serena Gasparini: “I usually have Wednesdays and a non-contact day,” she says. “That means no social media, no calls, and time to work on the business – or focus on where my energy is, which sometimes means taking this time to relax. I really recommend setting more non-contact days for the first few weeks of January, and easing your way into a full-time week.”
Leave your OOO on
Let’s end with a quirky one from Found & Flourish’s brilliant podcast host, Coni Longden-Jefferson: “my top tip for January is to leave your Out of Office on for an extra week than planned, even if you’re back at your desk,” she advises. “There’s nothing worse than trying to ease yourself back into work, and suddenly feeling responsible for the influx of needs that fill up your inbox. It’s a recipe for New Year overwhelm. Take a week to ease yourself back in mentally, before you announce that you’re back physically. Prioritise what you need to do before making yourself available to others. The Out of Office is the catch-all for managing client expectations and holding boundaries, so definitely harness its power in January!”. Time to head to gmail settings…
If you’re looking for some community support, why not become a member of Found & Flourish? With a calendar full of inspiring events, and an online community of supportive women only a few clicks away, it’s the perfect way to make sure you stay on track in 2022, whilst feeling good about your business. Join the waitlist here.
About your author
Phoebe is Found & Flourish’s resident Business blogger, she is London-born and Frankfurt-, Paris- and Amsterdam-raised. Combining her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship with 10 years writing for international publications, she’s the founder of BURO155 and Wellby, helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals through strategic online content. Phoebe is also a writer, and has written for outlets including the Huffington Post, the Guardian, the Next Web, For Working Ladies and Restless Magazine.
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