I’m no fan of Morrissey to be honest, even though “This Charming Man” is a key song of my university soundtrack from the early 80s, but he is on to something with his “Every day is like Sunday” tune.
I prefer an analogy to Friday to be honest.
That’s what self-employment is like.
Sunday (or Friday) every day.
There’s no counting down to holidays or the weekend because you have the Friday feeling every night, knowing that you control your business and no one controls you.
Though some try.
I’m too long in the tooth though to be micro-managed, bossed or treated like an employee – it’s even in my LinkedIn bio – that I don’t do bosses or meetings.
So Friday night, Sunday day time feeling happens 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Days and hours meld into one, and if I want to go for a walk or the gym or to the cinema, I go whenever I want.
Being employed by others restricts that freedom and I’m afraid, once you’ve grown accustomed to doing what you want, you can’t clip the leg irons and handcuffs of paid employment back on.
If you’re thinking of going self-employed and have some ideas or ambitions, my advice is to just do it, because seriously there is no better way to live.
It is Friday or Sunday every day.
There’s riders of course: bills, car loans and mortgages won’t remain in aspic until your business becomes successful. You have to have financial security from a permanent wage – which I have from my wife – and her support has allowed me to build successful businesses: Get Pro Copy and 321 Websites with my mate and business partner, Paul.
I’d like my wife to be part of the business too and experience the joys and freedoms of working from home – but it’s not possible yet. It will be soon though.
So what do I do all day?
Here’s a clue.
I remember when I used to teach English.
One of my favourite lessons for Year 7 (1st years in old money) was to read a poem called “Run the Film Backwards” (I think) and ask 11 years old to plot out their week, Monday to Friday, and some, bless them, didn’t understand chronology and some could not get beyond three events: getting up, going to school and being put to bed.
To be fair, if someone said to me now, list your day, I’d struggle too.
Simply put, I get up at 7 am during the week and go to sleep at 11 – hardly the most riveting schedule but it’s Sunday every day.
I do though have to be incredibly focused and organised.
I remember at one school, one colleague said to me, “You don’t appear to do much, but you actually achieve loads” which I think was a sort of compliment.
I’m still the same – I look like a lazy swan (a grey one) but my legs paddle constantly to maintain that appearance of graceful movement.
My weekdays and weekends then have 16 hours of available time but I don’t clock in or clock off – I choose when to do the work or when not to.
Back to efficiency though.
I manage seven Facebook accounts currently, six Twitter accounts, seven Instagram feeds and eight LinkedIn accounts (4 profiles and 4 company pages). I also have four Pinterest accounts and four Google Plus pages to throw in the mix.
Now I don’t manage these haphazardly – companies and individuals are paying me to promote their products and services on social media – so I can’t throw a sickie or go AWOL or say “I’ve not got round to it today.”
Each account, each company is treated like my own – but better.
I don’t neglect their social media marketing or blog posts as they pay me, and grant me this lifestyle.
So let’s give you a flavour of a day – if you’ve read so far, a mundane schedule won’t alarm you.
6.40: my wife gets up; I slumber and fire up various devices including the iMac.
7.00: the LinkedIn updates I’ve written for a week ahead for clients are copied and pasted on to profiles and company pages in a matter of minutes (7am is optimum LinkedIn time you know?)
7.10: make a pot of Earl Grey, not because I like it, but because, like San Pellegrino, it signals to myself that life is going well (it’d be PG Tips if things were bad.)
7.30 – 7.45: pack up wife and daughter for their day in school and eat breakfast.
8.30: leave the house on the school run, rubbing shoulders with all manner of Chelsea tractors in my Beemer MPV.
8.50: return home to work.
I’ll admit now though that the next hour or two can get a bit hazy. I sometimes choose to work or I might make a coffee and read or do some household chores. I might go straight to Bannatyne’s to “lift” and swim or I might decide to go shopping.
11.00 pm: bed.
Now in between 9 am and 11 pm, I plan my tasks. I have a whiteboard in my office, several Moleskine notebooks and a brain that never forgets.
Generally, my day is filled with five main work duties:
- I write blog posts.
- I plan LinkedIn updates.
- I create spreadsheets of tweets and schedule them for the week ahead on Twitter for the six accounts.
- I read. I’ve got Google and Feedly alerts set up for various topics and regions I cover. I also read for pleasure too.
- I watch. By this, I watch the social media accounts, like some Orwellian Room 101, I rarely miss a notification – a retweet or comment is acknowledged, a Facebook message is responded to instantly (unless I’m driving or swimming of course), a LinkedIn notification is dealt with promptly.
You see that’s where so many companies go wrong – they publish on social media but ignore interaction.
It’s marketing, it’s PR, it’s customer relations – and because I’m freelance with no malevolent boss monitoring me, I’m on to any ping faster than an estate agent in a Mini.
When I started Get Pro Copy in November 2015, I had visions of me penning beautiful passages on life, love and narrative twists.
Instead I write about property prices, the lettings fee ban, panel heaters, lighting, best walks for dogs in Birmingham (I kid you not) and my favourite: oesophageal reflux – my acid test, if you like.
Each day though is different – sometimes I have a ham sandwich, other days a pizza; sometimes still water, now and again sparkling.
Rather than quote Morrissey, I’ll end with The Who:
“I’m free, I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free, I’m free
And I’m waiting for you to follow me
If I told you what it takes to reach the highest high
You’d laugh and say, “Nothing’s that simple”
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
No one had the guts to leave the temple
I’m free, I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free, I’m free
And I’m waiting for you to follow me.”
If you want Sunday every day, or Friday night every night, plan for it and make it happen – you get one ride on this carousel in life and don’t waste it making others wealthy and yourself possibly unhappy.
We all live in cages – but the cage door is always open.