…and I have to say it was a little rough.
I’m sure those of you who worked today are pretty short on sympathy. Oh, poor Allie *had* to take a day off… I have the world’s smallest violin for you. Yeah. That’s fair.
But the purpose behind this experiment is setting boundaries, right? Taking Monday off is more symbolic than anything else. I got to the point where I was doing some kind of work every day. Taking phone calls at obscene hours. Using an FTP client on my iPhone to fix minor stuff (usually because a client accidentally broke something) while I was driving. Sitting on a ferry in the beautiful Pacific northwest and feeling anxious because oh my gosh I can’t check my email what if someone needs me. This needed major action.
The boundary-setting is bigger than setting boundaries on my time; I have to set boundaries with the kind of work I do and how I allow people to treat me and how I treat my business as whole. But time was the most natural place to start — and I’m already finding that, when you set time boundaries, some of those other boundaries are naturally (by necessity) created for you. I’m excited to see how this progresses in the weeks to come. But for now, I’m pretty gosh darn excited.
Because I went to the dry cleaner!
This seems so beyond small, but I have been trying to get to the dry cleaner for more than four months. It was so out of hand that it was my new years resolution.
You see, the dry cleaner that I like isn’t close to anything else. Not that it’s very far, but it isn’t on the way to anything, adjacent to anything, or otherwise located so that I couldn’t help but stop by. I have to go there on purpose. And I was always too frantic during business hours on weekdays to get there. Either I was making the most of the hour I set aside for requisite errands (a dozen errands in an hour? no problem!) or it was 4:58 and there was no way even I could jet over there before 5.
Today, I didn’t have any excuses and I didn’t have all these things to see! emails to answer! people to meet! because I wasn’t on a minute-by-minute schedule. I could take 15 minutes to drive over, drop off my clothes, and drive home.
And because I’m a total Monica (oh, the dance of the clean clothes!), it totally made my day.
But it almost didn’t happen.
I picked up a couple of new client prospects on Friday. (Actually, I was inundated with new prospects last week (!) — not big corporations or high-paying gigs, but super-creative work for super-nice people [i.e. the best work] — which is extremely exciting and is part of the reason why this three-day weekend was killing me… but I digress.) One of them is on a tight timeline, and the person who referred me told me up front that this potential client was leaving on Monday and would be gone for two weeks. So I emailed right away and asked if we could set something up for Monday.
Yes, Monday. I knew I shouldn’t, but what’s one little meeting over coffee? (This is every addict’s reasoning, BTW.)
Well, he was leaving Monday morning, so he wanted to meet over the weekend. But I had to draw the line somewhere. (Conveniently for me and my inability to create boundaries, I had plans for both Saturday and Sunday, so it would’ve been a glaring red flag to squeeze in a meeting in an already-full calendar.) I suggested that we set something up for the week he returned and suggested dates and times.
He wrote back and said he was going with someone else. That I couldn’t meet the timeline he had in mind.
Now, in well-adjusted-person interpretation, this means, “He is not my right person and has no respect for my time and boundaries.” But in Allie interpretation, it means, “I am insufficient and failing my clients and no one will want to work with someone who (insert healthy boundary here).”
Fortunately, miraculously, I didn’t cave in and set up a Sunday meeting. I held my ground. And my reward was the dry cleaner. The dry cleaner! Man, that was great.
Hey, Friday? I’ll deal with you next.
Taking an honest-to-goodness weekend makes Friday into the day when everything must get done to a point where I can leave it for three days. And frankly, putting that much pressure on poor Friday makes her into a bit of a bitch.
But then I realized that Friday has always been a pain. I wasn’t working into the night (and still not feeling completely at peace about things) because of my four-day work week. It was par for the course with Friday. The usual. Not worse, not better.
So there may have been a little cheating.
I did take a client technical support call (their email was down!), and I answered a couple of emails (mostly personal emails! promise!). But overall, it was a success. Especially considering that this was the first day for another experiment (more on that later), so I was doubly “depriving myself” of things today.
And, bonus! My to-do list (for life things) is at a manageable place for the first time in months. I didn’t even feel busy today, but apparently it was just the amount of time I needed to get everything wrangled. Wait, I get this and the dry cleaner even though I cheated? I can’t wait to see what next Monday brings.