Reflecting on the year: Time, tech and money
Three wins from 2022 and how I’m building on them in 2023.
Earlier this month I had a couple of client meetings in London and unknowingly made myself quite ill on my trip. I spent the whole of last week off work with an epic cold, and it’s still lingering this week. At this time of year, I would usually be slowing down, leading up to a pause on client work between Christmas and New Year. But instead, I’ll be catching up and wrapping up client work a week later than planned.
This situation represents the worst and the best of working for yourself. If I don’t work, I don’t earn. But I’m also in control of my time. There are times when “powering through” will only prolong illness. Most of the time, I can catch up afterwards and everything works itself out.
I had some time to reflect, which is something that I love to do at this time of year. Not only because of the new year, but because I have a January birthday and it’s the anniversary of my first plans to start Into The Woods Marketing. Three years on, my spark of an idea is a fully-fledged business 🥳
So, here are three of my wins from 2022 and how I’m building on them in 2023.
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I gained more time for myself but I need to spend more time nurturing my business
At the end of 2021, I felt burned out. I was battling a kidney infection and I had taken on too much work. My aim for 2022 was to stop this from happening again. In March, I had my first holiday and completely switched off. I went away again in September. I made time for the gym (I often go during the day). I enjoyed spontaneous time off in the summer when the weather was good. I’ve kept the size of my client-base in check, which meant that last week, I could pause without feeling overwhelmed.
However. The stability I’ve built into my business has made me complacent about promoting it. The time and effort I’ve spent marketing and developing it has been pretty sporadic. I’ve always got something on the go, and certainly things never stand still, but I am not consistent. So my goal for 2023 is to spend more time and effort on my business. I’m good at keeping on top of finances and admin, but I need to also prioritise working on this newsletter, writing blogs, being on LinkedIn and pitching myself for speaking and writing opportunities.
I removed big tech from my business but my screen time could be more focused
This time last year, I felt uncomfortable with the ethics of Google, Meta & co. I had read Digital Minimalism, discovered Below Radar and decided that I wanted to remove big tech from my business. This was a tricky one as I was using Google Workspace, which was the home for my email, file storage and calendar. The full story of how I untangled myself from big tech is a newsletter in itself, but I’ll just say that I’m happy with where I am on this - my email, calendar, file storage, website analytics and project management tools are now with privacy-focused providers.
Next year, I want to look at how I use my screen time at work. In a previous newsletter, I talked about creating focus time, which I am great at doing, but I find myself switching from task to task, or going to check something on LinkedIn or my email, only to get distracted. The Freedom app is a big help with this.
My earnings are consistent but I need to get better at saving
Typing this out makes me cringe inside, but I can’t be the only business owner in this position. And that is: I need a bigger buffer and business savings. Self-employed taxes in the UK mean that you pay “on account”, which is 1.5 years’ worth of taxes for the first instalment, and then you have payments every six months. When I first started my business, I didn’t have any savings, and I had a choice of either paying my mortgage or saving for taxes. The initial outlay has put me on constant catch-up ever since.
I hate being in this position, and now that I have consistent and reliable earnings, I am determined to get ahead of the cycle.
What I’m watching
Last week I watched 1899, and it’s the best thing I’ve seen for ages. It’s historical, mysterious and very addictive. I also loved Wednesday, which is perfect for formerly-spooky children (me). What have you watched and loved recently? Let me know and I can add it to my Christmas watch-list.