The Efficient Zombie
How many sleepless nights does it take to get to Zombie Status?
Zombies aren’t too chatty – except for the occasional “Me Want Brains” – so the world…may never know.
Road to Zombiehood
Three hours of sleep was becoming the new norm.
My eyes had more baggage than a certain ex boyfriend who’s not even worth mentioning.
Post-its had become my new slave and master. Always within reach to give another task, always nagging me to get shit done.
I answered hubby mostly in grunts while I worked, after bedtime, and he hung out at my desk, tablet in hand, trying to dig a complete sentence out of me.
Though there were lots of hugs for the kids, I don’t remember having conversations with them at that time.
I’d become overwhelmed with nothing but “stuff to do” on the brain.
But projects were completed.
Clients were happy.
The house was clean.
The family fed.
I was a damn efficient zombie, ya gotta give me that much.
Going through the motions.
Getting it all done.
Impressing clients with my miracles yet not reveling in that warm fuzzy feeling you get from praise.
Just moving down the list to the next thing that needed doing.
And then one day I woke up.
I realized though financially I was in the black, I was also looking dead and feeling [un]dead.
Something had to change.
Ya can’t take it with you and all that.
Not that I have much to take with when there’s bills to pay and children to feed.
I knew what my problem was.
My working hours never ended.
That’s what needed changing.
When I had a corporate job, I had this same problem of taking work home with me. When I realized that one day I’d want to start my own business and work from home, I stopped taking work home and I started freelancing after bedtime when the kids were sleeping.
When I became unemployed, I had more hours. So I took on more projects and started pimping my own services. But I never scheduled anything back then. So I spent more time working than I did with my family. Office hours were practically 20 hours a day.
Something had to change.
It was one of the main reasons I finally made the outline I share in 11 Practical Steps To Choosing Your WAHM Business.
(And you can download the outline by signing up for my RSS feed in the sidebar)
I needed a schedule.
One that fit my life.
ANd allowed for family time and sleep.
I spent a week with a daily planner penciling in every hour.
Including watching TV, playtime, naptime, meal time, cooking time, bedtime, twitter time, etc.
Not just for me, but for the kids.
After one week, I sat down and I built a schedule based on what I did that week.
That schedule has evolved since then and now I have time blocks for clients.
But writing the schedule wasn’t enough.
Blocking out specific time for clients wasn’t enough.
Though I had sufficient time scheduled, I wasn’t being efficient.
So along with the schedule, I had to create a system to use my client time block efficiently.
My Efficient WAHM System
Create detailed to-do lists of what needs to be done.
Do not rely on what YOU KNOW the project requires.
I’ve created templates for design projects, traffic report projects, SEM projects, etc in MSWord.
I adjust a version of the template based on the client’s project and special needs and then print it.
During the client’s time block, I work my way down the list, checking things off as I go.
When the time block is up, I put the list away until the next scheduled time block for that client.
I use this method when working on my own projects too.
Along with the schedule and to-do lists I had to put policies in place to keep me efficient during working time blocks.
- Check email before time blocks, half way in (without responding unless it’s an emergency), and after the time block ends.
- Turn off all social media notifications, close all social media windows and apps.
- Turn of AIM.
- Keep a notepad for ideas that pop in my head or things i remember i need to do, write it down and review after the time block is over.
- Don’t say yes to everything.
- Don’t take on any project, whether it’s a freebie or a paid project without estimating my time.
- First time site evaluations must be done in 10 minutes (set a timer).
A note about #s 5, 6 and 7.
I like helping people. Not everyone can afford my services even though they are budget friendly compared to my competition. But I need to value my time. So I’ve learned to:
- not swoop in to save the day
- to barter when it comes to time consuming projects.
- to not spend hours on a pre-evaluation and hand all the info over to a potential client (for free thinking that because I invested days of emailing with them responding to their Qs and hours evaluating their site and niche that they would hire me)
I did this last one twice with local clients. Both of them took my ideas and implemented them and never paid me a dime.
Now I offer a mini evaluation where I take a 10 minute look at a site to discern if the client needs my help and then tell them I took a quick peek and here’s what I found. I then include a link to my website evaluation service.
I now get 6 hours of sleep a night.
I’m more efficient than I am zombie (though I have those days where I have a hankering for brains).
And my family like me again.