Problem Solving

This is the first weekend I’ve taken off in at least a month. I’ve been stuck in a cycle where I worked through a couple of weekends out of necessity, and then by mid-week my brain broke and became completely useless, and then I would have to work through the weekend again to make up for the lost productivity in the middle of the week. I actually didn’t plan to take this weekend off, either–I had to take a couple of days off this week, so I had planned to make it up this weekend.

See, a couple of weeks ago, my uncle passed away. It wasn’t unexpected–he’d had a major heart attack a month or so before and had basically been in a coma. He regained consciousness, but it was clear that he was never going to be the same, or be strong enough to breathe on his own, so in the end he asked to be taken off of the respirator and allow nature to take his course, and his family respected his wishes. So, that sadness has been hanging over everything for the last six weeks or so.

Anyway, his funeral was Thursday, in Moore, which is a three-hour drive from Tulsa. And then he was interred at Fort Sill National Cemetery, which is another hour and a half or so from Moore. Matt and I rode down with my mom and sister, and between the ceremonies and the road tripping and dinner with extended families, we were gone all day. And then on Friday, I had to spend the day running errands, including taking Sasha, one of our cats, to the vet to check out a mass on her side and discovering (more like confirming, really) that she has cancer. I crammed in what work I could on that day between errands and Bible class, but it wasn’t much.

So by Saturday, I was plumb worn out. Work of any kind just wasn’t going to happen. To ease my guilt I told myself that I was making a compromise and that I could spend Saturday reveling in sloth and then spend Sunday catching up on work.

Except that, even after a Saturday spent lying on the couch and staring at moving pictures, today I still felt exhausted. And I realized that the world probably isn’t going to fall apart if I actually take the whole weekend off, and that I’m going to be useless all week if I don’t take this opportunity to rest and recharge my batteries, and really, I need to knock it off with the guilt.

So that’s one problem hopefully solved, now that things are reset — the problem of being stuck in this workaholic, no weekends cycle that was really making it difficult to enjoy life.

I have a few other problems that are also making life difficult and unpleasant, and it’s high time I do something about them.

One of those problems is insufficient sleep. Actually, I think that’s just one symptom of a bigger problem, which is that I haven’t been making time to take care of myself. I haven’t tested my blood sugar in a long time, but it feels like it’s out of whack, and it’s no wonder, seeing as how I’ve been eating a lot of high-glycemic carbs and not working out. My energy is low, my focus is shot, and I just generally feel like crap all the time. I have a feeling that if I start exercising and get back on my low GI diet, most, if not all, of these problems will take care of themselves; I’ll have more energy, start sleeping better and my focus issues will improve and I’ll be more productive overall.  So tomorrow, after we get back from dropping Sasha at the vet for blood work and (hopefully) surgery, I’m going to start the Couch to 5K program.

The other big problem is that I’ve gotten myself stuck on this treadmill of low-paying contract jobs and freelance projects that demand so much of my time and energy that I don’t have any left over for things like marketing myself and building my skills and portfolio so I can find better-paying clients and projects. Actually, after reading this article on the tendency of woman freelancers to undercharge, I realized that the root of this problem is that I undervalue my own abilities and the services I provide, and I need to knock that off right now. The main reason I’m stuck in these low-paying arrangements is because, in every instance, when the person hiring asked me my rates, I was so desperate for work that I offered lower-than-normal rates in the first place; as if that’s not bad enough, when they told me they had budgeted an even lower number, instead of trying to negotiate a better fee I just accepted the rate that they offered.

That’s not a way to build a successful and profitable freelancing career, y’all.

I’m so thankful that I came across that article, because it helped me realize, for one thing, that I’ve been basing my freelancing rates on the bare minimum of what we need to get by instead of on what we need to get ahead. For some reason, I felt guilty factoring “luxuries” like health insurance and home repairs and other things that most people would think of as necessities into my fees. And guess what! I’ve been making just what we need to scrape by each month. Now that I’ve realized I’ve been doing this, I’m asking myself, what the heck was I thinking?

So in the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be raising my rates, and sticking to my guns, and making time to promote our services to a higher caliber of clientele — i.e., clients with budgets of sufficient size that they won’t balk at the new rates. I’ve also realized that I need to think bigger, and stop marketing myself to bloggers, individuals and small businesses who can’t afford to shell out big bucks for a fabulous website.

I know all of this seems completely obvious, but for me it’s a revelation.

Oh, and that other problem is lack of writing time. But that ties back into the not getting enough sleep — I’ve been sleeping late in the mornings to make up for my nights of insomnia. I just need to start getting up early, which will hopefully also help me fall asleep sooner at night. At any rate, it should get me the time I need to get back into my morning writing routine.

So, those are the plans. Do you have any big problems you need to tackle? Come along with me and let’s take charge together.