BYOB: Doing the work when you don't feel like it.

by Ari Takata-Vasquez

This is a part of our BYOB: Be Your Own Boss series. Read past entries about being friends with a shop owner and morning rituals.
We all get into slumps, we have bad days (let’s be honest, sometimes weeks) and it can be tough to get things done. In my old job, it didn’t matter if I didn’t feel like doing the work, I still had deadlines and a boss breathing down my neck so I had to get it done. Now that I am the boss, I’ve had to find new strategies for doing the work when I just don’t want to. I’m still learning, but there are a few strategies that help me get focused.

Day Dream

Get out of ‘what-is’ and think about what ‘could be’. Taking a break from reality and write about some of the things you’d want to do if money/time/location weren’t a restriction. I sometimes shoot down my own ideas because they’re too unrealistic, but then I think about I actually have my own business and THAT’S UNREAL! Why stop yourself from reaching further? When I'm struggling with doing boring work I day-dream about what I’ll be doing a year or two from now and remind myself that the un-fun stuff is part of getting there.
I'm living in the future. I have a 3D printer, my old self would be blown away.

Thinking about how my past-self would see myself today.

Last week, I gave a presentation to a group of USF architecture students and talked about my journey since graduation. I realized it wasn’t really that long ago that I was stressing over studio finals and passing my structures class.  When I was still a teenager with major island fever, dying to leave Hawaii (I know, I know, how could I leave paradise) I would have thought my today-self is a badass. Remembering how much I’ve grown/developed/changed/accomplished helps me to move forward. It wasn’t like some day I just woke up being my own boss, it was the collection of thousands of days (both good and bad) that lead me here. It was putting in the work day to day that all accumulated to get me to this moment right now writing this blog. It didn’t magically happen before and it won’t in the future. Remembering how you've come can help push you forward.

Eff it, Have fun.

Sometimes I get lost in the minutia of the business-y stuff and get really burned out. When that happens, what helps is doing the fun work that gets me re-energized. The fun stuff is why I put up with doing reports and administrative work. When I feel stuck I do design work because it doesn’t feel like work. It reminds me why I work the long hours and deal with stress. It might not be the most pressing thing on my list, but having a break for fun boosts my mood.
Viscera pit, Charlie, is pro at knowing when to take a break.

Giving up (at least temporarily).

Okay, so this isn’t as bad as it sounds. I don’t mean fully giving up but allowing myself the mental to have bad days definitely helps to relieve some anxiety. I can get into this mental space where I don’t feel like doing work, beat myself up for not doing the work, procrastinate because I should be further along and then am paralyzed by what I could have gotten done in all the time I wasted on facebook. So maybe you’re not as crazy as I am but sometimes the guilt of “should have” can get in the way of just doing the work you need to do. I try to remind myself that everyone has off days and that I don’t need to be a well-oiled productivity machine. Sometimes I’m a blob that just wants to cruise social media and that’s okay. Maybe even sometimes necessary.