Did you ever have to say no to something that you really didn’t want to?

I did, just last week. And it was for a job.

As a new business owner- one job, one client, one order, etc can really make or break things. When I’m deep in a project or busy with client work it can be hard to see beyond that, and hard to make time to continually market myself or seek out additional work. Once an event happens or a client relationship ends, there’s no guarantee I’ll have more work lined up. It’s a constant balance, which I’m still very much learning to master. But last week I faced another dimension to this challenge.

Right now Clara Persis Events is just me. I don’t have anyone working for me. Things have gotten intense at times, and managing all my work has been a bit of a juggling act, but I think that sort of comes with the territory of owning your business and working in general, right? Last week, though, was the first time I had to say no to a client because I simply couldn’t manage the work in conjunction with my other clients on my own. Part of me wanted to scramble and get someone to help but I knew in my gut that was not the right way to go- that I would likely be sacrificing quality of service if I did that. So I had to turn down the work.

My stomach was in knots over the whole thing. I couldn’t help feeling like maybe I made the wrong decision. I brought it up to some of the girls I share an office space with this Monday to see if they had ever been in that situation. There was a resounding “yes,” so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. But one of them in particular said something that really struck me. She said that in some ways, by saying no to a project or job, you’re saying yes to your business. You’re saying yes to the fact that you control this business and have the right to take it in whatever direction you see fit. So while saying no was very very hard for me, I was simultaneously saying yes to the fact that I want to make solid intentional partnerships and not rush the hiring process, that I want to consistently operate from a quality over quantity stand point, and in order to maintain that level of quality I must do my best to care for my mental health. In the end, all of those decisions are best for not just me, but the client, too.  So while the whole experience was really tough, I feel confident in my decision- in a way, I definitely feel like I said yes.

Ps: And don’t worry, if you’re thinking I should get an intern, believe me- it’s on my to do list!

 

Last week I started a new series which centers around my work life. Since I now work for myself and this whole business owner/entrepreneur thing pretty much occupies my mind all of the time, this series felt like a natural extension of Channeling Contessa.

This week I want to touch on work/ life separation, not to be confused with work/life balance. People talk about balancing their work and personal life all the time, but what if you have trouble separating the two?  Perhaps the phrases are somewhat synonymous, but lately I’ve really struggled with drawing a dividing line between my work and my personal life. Do you ever feel that way? I often feel like all my time bleeds together, which makes it very hard for my work mind to shut off.

I realize that because I have my own business, having a completely separate personal and professional life will never really be possible- and truthfully, I don’t really want that. I mean, I chose this path so that I would be doing something that I love, something that incorporated my personal interests- so naturally my work is going to overlap with my person life. But how do you mentally separate work related  stuff when it is so heavily intertwined with your personal life, so you don’t feel like you’re working all the time?

For me, having a separate work space is huge. I do love working from home in the morning, but if I don’t go out and work elsewhere, it feels like there’s zero structure to my day and I never truly feel “done” for the day (I’m still forcing myself to accept this fact- it can be really tempting to stay at home!). I also try to be as disciplined as possible about not checking email late in the evening on weekdays or on weekends. I struggle with the fact that it’s only me. Every communication can feel like a direct reflection of the quality of my business, and so I should be answering emails right away, all the time… right? I know, deep down, that’s wrong, but I still have to work pretty hard to put that into practice. And lastly, even though I feel I’m struggling specifically with with work/life separation, making a point of keeping my work/life balance in check helps. Making an effort to go to the gym regularly, take time to make dinner, read and spend time with friends keeps my mind busy with other stuff-meaning I’m not thinking so much about work.

It’s a constant struggle, but one of the biggest hurdles was realizing this (like everything else in my new work life), is going to take more time than I anticipated.  Patience, where are you??

Do you ever struggle with work/life separation? Whether you work for yourself or not, I’d love to hear your ideas and tactics for maintaining balance and separation!

Hi all! I’ve got a new series to introduce today which I’m really excited about. Ever since mentioning I had officially made the transition to working for myself/starting my own business, I haven’t said too much else about the topic. That is about to change! The truth is, my mind is in such a different place these days. When I first started Channeling Contessa, is was solely a creative outlet for my culinary creations. Nowadays, I (thankfully) have many more creative outlets on my plate (ie: my work!) that go well beyond the kitchen and occupy my brain all day long. Thus it only feels natural to share more of that here.

My mind is brimming with ideas for this series, but I want to start things off in a simple and organized manner. So first things first, I’m going to break it down for you guys and share what a typical day looks like in my world these days. Here goes!

7:30-8 am: Wake up I aim to get out of bed around 7:45 am each day. I actually don’t set an alarm. I have a crazy internal body clock which can prove to be pretty frustrating on weekends, but gets me up on time during the week.

8-10:00 am: Breakfast and Work  Once out of bed I make coffee or tea and start work, which usually consists of emails and blog stuff while I’m still waking up. This is my favorite time of day- I love the morning light that pours into our apartment and I love being able to start my work day from the comfort of my own home. Breakfast usually consists of yogurt with honey and almonds or toast with almond butter.

9:45- 11 am: Prep for the “Office” After taking care of any morning priorities I hop in the shower and get ready to go to the “office.” Yes, office. Last month I started renting shared office space here in Brooklyn. While I love the flexibility of working from home I was starting to feel cooped up and cafés were just too noisy, so now I spend a few days a week here. I love it! The people are so sweet and there’s even a little dog named Sushi who hangs out with us.

11 am- 5:30 pm: Work at the Office These are my usual hours at the co-working space. I’ve found working here to be incredibly productive- more so than any other office I’ve worked it. Not much but work happens during this period- I usually bring something to eat and snack on it at my desk (and pet Sushi from time to time).

5:30-6:30 pm: Head Home & Prep for the Gym The office is a solid half hour walk from my apartment, so I shoot to leave by 5:30 so I can get home and change for the gym, as well as clean up the apartment a bit.

6:30-7:30 pm: Gym Time When I’m not traveling (or suffering from the stupid flu), I aim to make it to the gym 3 weekdays and 1 weekend day. Exercise is so crucial for my mental health, so I really look forward to my workout. Most days I do about 20 minutes of cardio and spend the rest of the timing lifting weights.

7:30 pm- 9 pm: Shower and Prep Dinner At 7:30 I’m hustling to finish my workout and head home to prep dinner. Usually I’m reheating leftovers or making something simple like a big salad and quesadillas, which doesn’t require too much time and effort. We eat around 8:15/8:30 and linger until around 9 pm. Sitting down for dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day- the down time and catching up with Brandon helps keep me sane.

9- 11 pm: Blogging, Light Work, and Prepping for the Next Day The majority of my evening time I spend blogging, but occasionally they’ll be a little work, and often I do a bit more tidying of the apartment and prepping meals, etc. for the next day. Some nights I’ll catch up on my TV shows – I’m currently watching Mad Men, Smash, and Bethenny Ever After (no judging!).

11-11:45 pm: Prep for bed, reading, and lights out! In an ideal world I’m in bed with teeth brushed just a little after 11 so I have a solid amount of time to read. I’m currently reading Spontaneous Happiness. Next on my list- 50 Shades of Grey!

Aaand I think that’s it! Obviously not everyday is like this- at least one night a week I have dinner or drinks with friends or we go out, and some weekdays I’ll take advantage of my work from home schedule and go to the gym in the morning or hit up Trader Joe’s when it isn’t a mad house. As simple as it sounds, this whole work from home schedule took me quite some time to figure out- I just now feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it. If there’s one thing having my own business has really taught me thus far, it’s that I need to be more patient! In time…

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Aaaah… how was your weekend? Mine was unexpectedly wonderful. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, it was just one of those weekends where the perfect balance of productivity, relaxation, and time spent with friends somehow fell into place.  I feel pretty proud of myself, actually! I’ve been struggling lately with the separation between work and life.

I’m certainly not complaining. I’m very thankful to be so busy and  have multiple many projects at play. Nonetheless, it’s still daunting.  I find that when my schedule gets this way, the things I used to enjoy, like cooking, working out, or reading a book, become chores. I dread doing them because it seems impossible to mentally separate myself from everything else in my life and truly enjoy going running or preparing dinner. I have a hard time tuning out the noise, and being present. Does that ever happen to you?

I sort of stumbled on a solution to my problem. Being a avid follower of Joy the Baker, I started exploring her other online work- Homefries. Have you guys heard of Homefries? It’s a collection of podcasts (and other cool stuff) curated by Joy the Baker, and some amazing other bloggers/people. There are multiple podcasts to choose from, but I’m totally hooked on the Joy the Baker Podcast and We’re About to be Friends. Ok, I’ve also listened to a fair amount of the Simple Mom Podcasts (I’m preparing!).

I didn’t realize it initially, but I became so into these podcasts, I found myself making time to listen to them. I had no problem shutting off work at the end of the day and starting dinner, because it meant I could listen to the newest podcast! Same thing went for getting my  butt out the door for a lunch time run. For some reason, listening to podcasts allows me to completely tune out all the thoughts running through my head and truly take a break. I like the Homefries ones especially, because it feels like two close friends chatting next to me, except I just get to listen and take it all in, instead of engage.

Do you listen to podcasts? Do you find them relaxing? How do you disconnect and tune out the noise?

Ps: And if you have podcasts to recommend, please send them my way!

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