3 months

In February we saw a huge pile of work on the horizon and heading towards us. If you work or have worked for non-profits you’ll know what it’s all about: lots of stashes of budget secreted around the country’s museums, councils, universities.. and then a last minute HOLY FUCK, WE NEED TO SPEND THIS SHIT BY MARCH OR WE’LL LOSE IT panic.

As a business who is not quite two years old, this is a bit of a weird time. We’re growing in confidence – so more able to say “no” to stuff – but also not quite confident enough to say “no” to enough of the stuff we probably should say “no” to.

Dear me, that was a shit sentence. In short: it’s hard saying “no”.

But – having said that – we went into March with our eyes open, knowing that the amount of work we were taking on was substantial. Actually, “substantial” really means “fucking ridiculous” – but the point is, we knew it and decided that we’d work our arses off during March in order to be able to take our foot off the accelerator during the summer.

So we did (work our arses off): we went live with, um, three (I think) websites, did 15 days of consultancy for a bunch of museums in Hampshire, ran a (social) media campaign (still ongoing) for the Roman Baths, ran all the social activity for the Bath Half. Oh, and kept the other shit afloat at the same time.

This blog isn’t about our work, though, so I’ll shut up about that bollocks now. The point is: March became this kind of crazy, frenetic, travelling everywhere kind of month where the balance goes all to shit. Instead it became about THE WORK and before you know it you’ve forgotten what THE SEA looks like – and then suddenly this incredibly beautiful motherfucker of a valley, the nature, the rawness: the POINT of this whole thing – gets lost.

In all honesty – not a terribly fun time. Yes, the (financial) balance sheet is looking pretty healthy, but the work/life balance sheet was shot to fuck for a bit there. Just examining this: the way of working and living – the noticing of things outside an in-box, the “normalising” of our surroundings during this time – has been a hugely interesting learning experience. For a while there, we were running a digital agency on full steam, but doing it with all the (not inconsiderable) challenges that being in the arse end of nowhere brings: train station 90 minutes away, clients 5 hours away, slow broadband. For a month (and again, I stress – defensively I guess: “we did it with our eyes open”) we lost our compass a little bit.

So: here we are again, back to a bit more of a balance – we’ve deliberately now pared work right back to a much more sensible level. We’ve dropped our 5-days-a-week office back to the 3 days we had when we first moved down. And even that: being here, surrounded by the trees and noise of the stream and knowing I may take a stroll down to look at the sea in a minute – this is enough to make the whole thing feel a bit more like the journey we envisaged.

In other news…

– my aspirations to stop using my mobile quite so much fell by the wayside. I liked disconnecting for a brief time, but found it impossible to maintain: call it addiction or a need to be connected – I don’t know. I’m back but still trying to keep the balance a bit more in favour of the real world and a bit less about that 2″ screen which is always shouting for my attention.

– my writing continues, albeit slowly. I’m now about 15k words in (100k final length is my aspiration) – but still loving the process of writing and thinking about it all, a LOT of the time..

– we’re slowly making improvements to the house. We now have drinking water (finally), have knocked the old shed over, are planning a new kitchen and pondering whether to clad the house in something warmer.. Oh, I also made some random steps which seemed like a good idea in the rain but are slightly redundant right now…

– I’m continuing to be an old hippy bastard by doing yoga and meditation every day. And: loving it.

Suddenly this feels like one of those god-awful Christmas newsletters. I’d better stop.

Peace out.

2 thoughts on “3 months”

  1. Once again feeling pretty jealous.

    It’s not so much the house and location (although those do sound awesome), more the flexibility. Although I guess with that flexibility comes an element of uncertainty, and the need to actively go out there and get work. Swings and roundabouts.

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  2. Hey Paul – thanks for commenting.

    We’ve been lucky so far (touches wood) in that 100% of our work is referred, so don’t do any overtly salesy stuff. But you’re right: consulting work which is by far the most lucrative (and frankly, easiest) work we do is also the type of work which is the most incompatible with our life here. I have zero desire to spend the rest of my life travelling / in hotels – but consultancy absolutely demands that when you live hours away from your clients. So there’s a big question / balance thing right there..

    What I think is also hard is knowing that we *could earn more money* and deliberately choosing not to. Even when you’re an old hippy bastard like me (and a younger hippy bastard like @rachcrad) – this is quite a tough call, what with kids, the uncertainties you mention, the fact it could all fall off a cliff any second…

    In fact thinking around it I think the thing I find the most difficult about working for ourselves is knowing that there is *always* more to do, but making deliberate choices not to do those things.

    As someone who finds relaxing incredibly hard, this is a learning curve I think I’ll always be climbing up… 🙂

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