For those of you who are taking note out there, you’ve probably noticed that my blog posts have gotten fewer and farther between. There’s a real reason for that – I got a dream gig recently where I was hired by a couple of companies to handle their social media and develop their blogs. I actually made up business cards that say I’m a professional blogger (I hear that if someone pays you to do it, that makes you a professional. . .at least kinda sorta, right?). I had already been blogging for Pick Up Sticks Jewelry (www.pickupsticksjewelry.wordpress.com), but that work is for my great friends who run a great company, and writing for them is like falling off a log – very natural and fun.
So, I get these clients, and I’m spending time making sure they’re all happy, and I’m writing draft blogs and getting their themes and SEO and Facebook fan pages figured out while they rave about how much I’m helping them, and in the process I get to give up my commute to Clovis to hold the hand of divorce clients while being a paralegal. I get to work in my office at home with a window overlooking the lake – all dream stuff, right?
Except that I forgot something really important along the way. In my flurry to be sure I’m making my paying clients happy, I’ve forgotten to pay myself first. I had to read a blog by Chris Brogan (www.chrisbrogan.com) with, I have to admit, the same title that I’ve used here. It reminded me that I have forgotten to take care of the most important aspect of my business – Me.
Chris isn’t talking about money – he’s talking about paying yourself in time and effort before you give those commodities away to someone else. And he’s clear that this method is the only sure way to success.
Here’s how Chris says it:
Areas Where You Should Pay Yourself First
If you want to improve your lot in life, if you want to balance your priorities, here’s my quick little recipe for paying yourself first:
- Get as close to 8 hours of sleep a night as you can.
- Schedule “do not disturb” time with your family as often as possible.
- Weigh every business opportunity against your change in quality of life.
- Ask for what you’re worth, so you can work the right number of hours for respectable pay.
- Work your core projects first over all external projects.
- Weigh the negatives and positives of any trip you might be asked to take. Decide accordingly.
- Realize that physical fitness boosts mental fitness and make it a priority, not a nice-to-have.
- Listen for warning signs (your body tells you when you’re messing with its parameters).
- Cut out junk: food, hours, consumption, entertainment. Your mind and body deserve the best.
- Audit how you’re spending your time and validate whether it’s working for you.
- Get out into nature once every two days at most. Nature is that other window with the higher resolution.
Chris spoke directly to me. And one of the ways I haven’t been paying myself first is by writing this blog. I love this blog, and my subscribers, and gleaning ideas from the smallest detail in my New Mexico life. I relish the search for great images and stories, and mostly, I obviously like to hear myself talk.
The other ways I pay myself first have to be by going out into my winter garden for a break from this laptop (you should see my arugula bed!), by taking a break some afternoons to have coffee around my mother’s kitchen table with her and my Dad and my 83 year-old Uncle L.E. I’ll turn off my computer in the evenings and spend them cooking with Dave (who ever thought I’d meet a man who cooks?) before we watch a little Dexter, our newest obsession. I’ll sit on the deck and watch the butterflies in my butterfly bush. And then, of course, I’ll go back to work and write those “professional” blogs with some of the cobwebs cleared out of my head. As Chris suggests, paying yourself first can only make you better at your job.
There’s a couple of earlier blog posts – “Relax and Enjoy it” and one about celebrating everything in your life – where I talk about how New Mexicans are especially good at working really hard and then playing really hard. Sometimes we just have to be reminded. Or at least I do.
This morning I get to go to Logan High School and help Shelley Wallin’s college prep start posting their blog posts to www.loganschools.wordpress.com. That’s one other way I’m paying myself first. While I don’t get any cash in my bank account for spending time with those kids, I do get their enthusiasm, their aha! moments when they preview their own work on a computer screen, their teasing of one another. Take a look at that address and let them know what you think. And don’t forget to pay yourself first, in whatever way works best for you.