I built The Atelier of Time for self-employed creatives, not because doing so is trendy or a quick path to riches, but simply because it’s what I know. It’s who I am.

And it focuses on right-brain-friendly time management and organization because self-employed creatives are horribly underserved in this area. It was born from the problems I had to solve for myself because there wasn’t anything else out there eight years ago. (Wait, that’s not quite true. There were a couple good books by Lee Silber. Thank you, Lee, for getting me started.)

Besides the challenges of trying to organize and streamline a muse that doesn’t always cooperate, some pretty strange things can happen when you can do almost anything you want with your day. The kinds of decisions you make when you’re responsible to no one but yourself can turn out to be quite revealing – both in ways that are a source of pride and in ways that are disappointing.

In those disappointing moments, you may have been forced to admit (just as I was) that although the structures of employment didn’t exactly bring out your best, they were nevertheless doing more for you than you realized.

Besides organizing your time and priorities (at least up to a point), those structures of employment often helped you make better decisions because you weren’t working in unsupported isolation.

At the most basic and obvious level, this meant having coworkers and a boss. Which, despite the downsides of office politics, provided camaraderie and shared knowledge, skills, responsibilities and decision-making. Nothing to sneeze at.

It also meant benefits. And if you were lucky enough to work for a company that took good care of its employees, this likely went beyond paid vacation, health care, a 401k and the occasional birthday cake. Maybe it was onsite daycare. A fitness center. Showers. Readily available nutritious food. Funding for ongoing education. A sabbatical program. Bus passes. Counseling services for everything from financial planning to addiction. Ergonomic chairs and desks. Lots of windows. A nap room. Whatever. Whatever acknowledged that you were more than your job and that when your whole life was simplified and well-supported, you did better work.

Unfortunately, such companies are rare. So one upside of being your own boss is creating your own best company to work for, even if it remains a company of one.

But that takes more than a foosball table. You have to attend to the human part of human resources – and that means not just acknowledging your wholeness, but including other humans. Because even a company of one can’t actually go it alone.

That’s why the S4D application concludes with the question of: What forms of professional support and connection are currently available to you? I’d like to know where you’re at in your evolution of including human resources in your business. Joining the S4D is one way and a great way – it can even be your first way! – of not going it alone, but it shouldn’t be your only way. And here’s why.

This is more of a hub, not so much a swiss army knife.

Time touches every part of our lives. Thus, so too does this program. Because we touch on such a wide variety of routines and support structures, it’s easy to forget the program doesn’t include everything – and everyone – you need to create those systems.

What the program does have are tools and techniques that help you determine exactly what you do need to gather together – including your network of human resources – to build the simplified and well-supported life that allows you to do better work. For instance…

  • Time is of no use to you without the energy to do something with it. So to really support your physical energy, do you need to go beyond a physician and add an acupuncturist, massage therapist, personal trainer, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to the mix?
  • Would incorporating housekeeping, childcare, a dog-walking service or grocery delivery smooth and streamline the systems that support your domestic life?
  • Once you’ve eliminated and automated as much of your routine administrative work as you can, is it time to hand off what remains to an assistant (who can likely do it faster, better and without resentment)?
  • While no one misses office politics (or that one coworker who always got under your skin – wasn’t there always one?), would the camaraderie of professional peers who understand the unique challenges of your field help hone your expertise through the exchange of ideas and support?
  • Also, three things you probably shouldn’t DIY: technology, finance and law. Hire a web tech, accountant and/or attorney sooner rather than later.
  • Make that four things: it’s really hard to double-major in your field of expertise and business at the same time. Work with a business strategist or marketing consultant when needed.
  • Lastly, self-employment (not unlike parenting) has an uncanny way of showing you what you’re really made of: the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes that’s confusing and very emotional. And in those moments, the services of a good life coach or therapist to help unpack your so-called baggage and develop better self-awareness and resilience are indispensable.

Of course, you don’t put this sort of infrastructure into place all at once. You gradually incorporate one thing at a time as needed and in a sensible order, each one a stepping stone that brings the next step within reach. (Even one of the best companies to work for started with the small gesture of M&Ms on Wednesdays.) Knowing who you need to bring in first and who can wait is part of the long-term planning skills you’ll develop in the S4D. And the techniques and encouragement you need to make daily and weekly progress on those plans are there too.

Working within the mortal limits of the space-time continuum – working within your capacity – means you personally cannot know and do everything yourself (even though you are a total braniac and it seems like maybe that would be possible). No matter what your stage of development, other people are almost always going to play a role in crafting efficient and effective systems and support structures.

More than that, as Barbara Sher wisely says: isolation is the dream killer. Beyond the ways your network of human resources extends your expertise and capacity to get things done, the company of kindred spirits makes trusting and reaching for what’s possible – and understanding what’s necessary and acting on that too – much more likely to happen.

Kindred spirits are one thing you’ll find in the S4D. You’ll also find a rich set of information, tools and techniques for right-brain-friendly time management and organization. And whatever needs those two things can’t meet (and there will be some), together they will point you to the resources that will help.

As I said in the beginning: some odd things can happen when you can do almost anything you want with your day. Help yourself better navigate the sometimes strange territory of creative self-employment and make better decisions by not working in unsupported isolation.

Whether the S4D is the first stepping stone or an addition to an existing mix, I’d be honored and delighted to be included in your network of human resources. Remember: enrollment for the autumn quarter closes July 24. Learn all the details and apply here.

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I’m curious about two things…

  1. When you hear about what makes the best companies to work for so awesome, what perks would you most like to recreate for yourself?
  2. What form of connection do you find indispensable to your life and business right now? What’s your go-to favorite at the moment?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or send me at note at hello [at] thirdhandworks [dot] com. I’d love to hear from you.

peace and love,
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