When you're looking ahead, it helps to know where you've been.
An approaching New Year is always a good opportunity to look back on the things you’ve done, how you’ve done them and how you want to improve upon both of them in the next 365-day cycle.
It being nearly two years of writing this blog for NBC Chicago, and now that I’m based out of 1871, I’ve gotten a pretty good bead on the entrepreneur community. Y’all are great, but there are some things as a group we can all do to improve upon ourselves.
Set some boundaries. Life-work balance is really, really tough as a free agent. You want to hustle and you want to eat but you also don’t want to burn out. Doing all three seems to be impossible (especially if you also have a family in the mix), and one way we can slay that three-headed hydra is by building a buffer into our day-to-day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to entrepreneurs about arranging an interview and they would suggest perhaps talking at 11 p.m. while they were in the airport on a weekday. I understand it might be a free moment you have to breathe some oxygen and hold still, but — yeah, how about we don’t. I, like you, am in the same hustling foxhole. I kinda doubt 11 p.m. on a layover is really going to be you at your brightest and best, and even if it was, I try to keep the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours best I can (or some sliding variation therein) and when I started doing that I felt a lot more sane. You will, too. But the days of bragging about working seven days a week, 16 hours a day are long gone.
Slow down. We only have so much time on this planet and we all want to get a lot done. I know. I’m the same way. But blasting tons of people with hastily written emails, packing your days with meetings and generally trying to do it all, all the time is a surefire way to assure you’ll either crash and burn or wind up embarrassing yourself inadvertently. Whether it’s CC’ing people you didn’t mean to, filling your missive with tons of typos (one of my favorite recent ones was where “names” was auto-corrected to “BMWs") or somehow just looking unprofessional by not capitalizing so many times where you should have — it doesn’t matter how fast you can type or re-prioritize on the fly. Multitasking is a myth. Do one thing, do it well and then move onto the next thing. Whether it’s in the macro sense, with your career and the job you’re working now, or in the small sense, with the email you need to answer and the call you need to take, it’s a Zen-ful habit that’ll serve you well.
I’ll be striving to integrate these even more into my day-to-day, and hope you’ll join me. Namaste!
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.