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The beginning of 2014 was off to a rough start. Like many business owners, I was coming off the holidays and spending all my time trying to catch up on work that had fallen behind during the break.
But as the months went on (and with the help of my coach), I discovered I was stuck in a very sad place in my life — depression.
Not just any depression mind you, but that soul-sucking feeling that comes with running a business that’s no longer inspiring you. I wasn’t sleeping properly and I hated waking up knowing I had a long list of tasks to do. This “business depression” was a big turning point in my career.
So how do you handle a boring business or career that leaves you depressed and uninspired? Here are 3 simple steps to take today.
1. Declutter and go wireless
To get yourself out of this lifeless slump, you have to focus on cutting out the noise from your mind and removing anything that’s clogging your creativity.
I enjoy anything having to do with painting and sketching, and do consider myself a novice artist. So I understand how the surroundings, atmosphere and energy of a location can affect your creations. As entrepreneurs we are artists, and artists have to be very protective of what influences us.
Take a page from the Tiny House Movement (I’m personally obsessed with it!). The purpose of this movement is to focus on simple living, avoiding waste, while living in a small but functional space, where having less means being happier.
This minimalist approach to a creative but mobile type of lifestyle requires you to find the right tools and gadgets, that are also multi-purpose.
Here’s a list of the products I use to declutter my workspace (and my mind) that ensures my business isn’t stuck to a desk:
- A wifi-enabled tablet or iPad
- Bluetooth wireless earbuds, I use the Jabra ROX Wireless
- Portable wifi hotspot
- Bluetooth enabled keyboard
- iPhone with apps for running a business on the go
By choosing products and gadgets that serve multiple purposes, you can run a mobile office and have the freedom to create from anywhere — you never know where inspiration will strike. One day you can work from a coffee shop, or coworking space. The next you can work from your car, or even hotel room while traveling.
A life without wires is the first step towards regaining control of your mind, business, and your spirit again.
2. Take time to unplug
Earlier this spring, after my realization that my business was making me depressed, I scheduled a weekend getaway to unplug and figure out the next steps. If you aren’t sure where you want to go, or what you want to do anymore, you need to listen to your gut.
All the options were on the table for me — shutting down this website, going back to a 9-5 job, firing all my clients, partnering with another entrepreneur, completely changing my niche. You name it, I put it on my list of possibilities. Why?
Because I wanted to find out what my creative heart and soul truly desired, not what the industry was telling me to do. It’s all too easy to listen to the industry, compare yourself to others, and question your intuition — especially since money pays the bills.
So schedule time to reset, shut off the computer, close the email, and spend a few days unplugged just with your thoughts. Take a journal, a sketchpad, some good books, and anything else that releases your creative spirit.
3. Create your ideal client list
Why did you start a business in the first place? If you’re like me you want the freedom to make your own decisions, and have control over your own schedule. Then next thing you know, you’re answering to clients, deadlines, and putting out fires all day — not what you signed up for!
Not everything about your business is bad, you just have to pinpoint which projects still bring you joy, and which ones are sucking the life out of you. As much as we might not want to admit, how much you get paid for your work can count a lot towards the enjoyment of the work.
If you’re getting paid peanuts for thought-provoking and time-consuming gigs, it can wear on your creativity until it’s ultimately suffocated.
Here’s how to weed out the bad clients and projects and focus on the idea ones:
- Use my free Client Comparison Template, or
- Write out all of your clients on a sketchpad or whiteboard
- List out every detail, from how much you get paid, to how long it takes you
- Put a star next to the ones you love (or that pay really well)
- Reorganize the list from your favorites to your least favorites
- Eliminate the projects/clients/customers who no longer measure up
Hone in on the projects and people you want to work with, and eliminate the rest from your schedule. You might make less money in the beginning, but once I followed these steps, I saw the floodgates to new opportunities pouring in.
If you feel that you’re running a boring business that no longer inspires you, go through this checklist and take the steps towards finding your creative drive again.