Be your best boss ever.

I follow a lot of creative people on Instagram: photographers, illustrators, entrepreneurs.

I was scrolling through a few weeks ago on what the English call a “Bank Holiday” (Americans, read: Memorial Day, MLK day, something like that), and one of the freelance illustrators I follow posted a picture of herself working, with the caption:

“No bank holidays when you work for yourself.”

Now, excuse me, but…no.

I understand deadlines – probably more than most people (I used to be a journalist, don’t you know.). But probably 50% of the reason I started my own business was so that I could have more flexible time to spend with my family, to spend on my life.

Have you ever heard about workplaces like Google and SAS – how they offer amazing benefits like gourmet meals and on-site massages and flexible hours and bringing your kids to work? Wouldn’t you love to work somewhere like that? Me too! And guess what? I DO. I have an amazing boss, and her name is Faith Dwight.

Here are just a few ways I be an awesome boss for myself:

  • I impose a strict policy of no work phone calls in the evenings. Let me tell you something: if you answer a phone call from a client at 9pm on a Tuesday evening, you are setting a precedent of Always Available. Do you want to be Always Available? I don’t (unless you’re my kids – and even then, I like to go to the bathroom by myself sometimes).
  • I only take a limited number of bookings a year. Part of the reason I started a business is because I want more time for my family, so what’s the point of working every single Saturday? I shoot one wedding a month. If a second wedding comes up that looks like something I just can’t miss, I talk to Simon about it. If he’s happy and I’m not going to miss anything important, I will take it on. But if he’s not – or even if I’m not 100% sure I have the capacity to shoot it and still cover all my other responsibilities, I pass. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s a Bohemian wedding on a ranch with gypsy caravans in the Cornish countryside. (But seriously, if you have a wedding like that, talk to me now because I really want to shoot it.)
  • I have a cleaner. A while back, I had the realisation that I can’t do everything. I am not a supermom or a superwoman or a super anything (except maybe a super brownie maker. My brownies are legit.). You know that episode of FRIENDS where Monica has the crazy closet full of junk, but the rest of her life looks immaculate? I have a literal junk closet, but I think we all have a figurative one, too. You cannot do everything: work, family, housekeeping, your health…something always has to give. For me, it was my housekeeping (and my health a little bit too, but that’s a story for another day). And because I’m not great at it, and I don’t enjoy doing it, but I want my kids and my husband and myself to live (and work!) in a clean, safe environment, I hired a cleaner. No shame.
  • I embrace holidays. This means Christmas, Easter, and all the other no-name bank holidays. If I wouldn’t be working as a bank teller, I sure as heck am not going to be working as a self-employed person. Why would I allow myself to be a more demanding, less flexible boss than someone who doesn’t even care about me? I. Love. Holidays.

If I want to get driven into the ground by work – to miss my kids’ school plays, to be dog-tired all the time, to sit inside on the computer while the rest of the world is outside in the sunshine – I’m sure I can find a magazine in the city that will happily abuse me and call it a job. But that’s not what I choose.

I choose bank holidays, and restful weekends, and five weeks of vacation a year (and I’m working on that on-site massages thing).

I choose a life.

(And you should, too.)

I’d love to hear from you in the comments: How do you be your best boss ever?

Author: Faith

Faith Dwight is a photographer and a writer. She is a Southern American girl living just north of London with her British husband, Simon and their two halfling sons.

9 thoughts

  1. Just came across your blog, this post is great. I’m about to step out of full time employment in PR into the world of entrepreneurship and this has been an encouraging reminder of why I’m doing this! Would love to hear more on topics like this.

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