No matter how well you plan within in your creative journey and business, life will happen. Whether it’s a health emergency, a problem with the house that needs sorting ASAP, or an arrival of a new bundle of joy -- the universe may throw a little spanner in the works that will mean you’ll need to take time out from running your business for a little while.
So, how can we make sure our businesses continue to run when we need to take time out?
Take a breath and give grace
The only thing that is important right now is making sure that you’re giving yourself as much space as possible. If an emergency or even just a hiccup does occur, know that it’s perfectly acceptable to take time away. If you were in a 9-5, you'd have holiday days to use, or you'd be signed off from work, so don't think that just because you're self-employed it means you can take time off in an emergency. Give yourself as much grace as possible, and try not to feel guilty about stepping away.
You need to give yourself time to assess the situation and process what is happening. When you do that, you don’t have the distraction of trying to keep it off of your mind or panicking about how to handle it in addition to everything else you are responsible for. Determine how much time you will need to dedicate to the issue so that you can put together a plan of action you can live with and will honor what you need to do for you.
Cut down to the essentials
When you’re ready to, assess your current workload and identify anything that is truly urgent. Are there deadlines that really cannot be moved? Are there specific tasks that are time sensitive? If you have the time, energy and resources, take care of the urgent and put everything else on hold. Do just enough to maintain your client base and keep your business running - no more. Burning out on top of life stress isn't a great solution.
Honestly, we’ve all been there. Maybe not in the exact same situation you’re in right now, but we've all experienced some kind of overwhelming or confusing life event. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you find yourself in over your head. This could be something like outsourcing some of your daily tasks to help keep your to-do list more focused and clear, or even something as simple as meeting a friend for coffee so you can vent. Whatever you feel would help you most, don't be afraid to ask for it.
Depending on the situation you may need to let your clients/customer know what is going on if you need to take time off. From experience, people will be more than ok with you taking some time away, in fact, they’ll almost insist on it, so try not to worry about ‘letting anyone down’. Most of the time, people know that life happens and they’ll completely understand, but they do appreciate being given a heads up. Just a simple explanation such as ‘I’m not going to be available until X/Y/Z due to a family emergency, but I’ll try to pop my head in to my inbox as regularly as I can’ will do the trick, you won’t need to go into the details of the problem.
Life happens for all of us. To navigate a crisis, plan for them when times are good. Getting used to having systems such as batch-producing all content in advance for the month, or scheduling social media posts at the beginning of the week might help for when you need to take a step back. A little pre-planning will come in handy when your master plan is interrupted.
The important thing to remember is that it will all work out -- you are more important than your business when an emergency occurs.