Decide on your rules and then stick to them…

Today my good friend Deborah Lee wrote an excellent post all about working for free. I’ve wrote about the same thing on this blog and I’ve publicly condemned those who think it’s ok to expect creatives to work for nothing.

But today something struck me. Since the end of last year, I changed the way I started working. I discovered what I was worth, decided on how much my services cost and I stuck to it. Anyone who didn’t want to pay or suggested that my quotes were too expensive, clearly didn’t want to work with me. So I wished them well and just moved on. I didn’t change my pricing or scuttle around trying to appease someone who’d already told me that they didn’t think my work was amount that I was asking.

Graffiti with Soul

And you know what? It’s worked. I finally set my rules for working and it has totally changed the way I work. I’m happier, I work with people who I like working with and its a nice feeling knowing my clients respect me enough to know that I’m worth the rates I charge.

Which makes me think about what other rules we need to set in life.

For example time. Time is another commodity that we take way too lightly. People will think nothing of suggesting a quick coffee to pick your brains or perhaps suggesting that you wait 10 more minutes for them to arrive somewhere but it is that time that you could use to do something else, something more worthy.

A great example of someone who values their time is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s CFO. She leaves work at 5.30pm without fail.

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids”

Her acknowledgement of how precious her time is means that her colleagues, bosses and clients ALSO respect her time and know that she has set her parameters.

In order to live, work and play better we all need to set rules. Rules for life, rules for business and rules for playing.

People will always want a bit more from you, a bit more time, a bit more work and a bit more than you ever need to give.

Tolstoy wrote a lot about happiness and how to achieve it and here are his “rules for life” when he was 18 years old…

  • Get up early (five o’clock)
  • Go to bed early (nine to ten o’clock)
  • Eat little and avoid sweets
  • Try to do everything by yourself
  • Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for every minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater
  • Keep away from women
  • Kill desire by work
  • Be good, but try to let no one know it
  • Always live less expensively than you might
  • Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer

Obviously I’m not much of a fan of #6.

Here are some rules that you may find useful to set:

Only check your email and messages twice a day –  don’t feel pressured to respond to every email you get. Unless someone asks you a direct question or it’s something that’s going to benefit you, don’t rush.

Set your price and stick to it – if you’re in business, no matter how desperate you are for money or clients, once you price your products or services – stick to it. Not everyone will be able to afford you and people will always try to knock down your price but don’t budge. If they don’t think your worth the price you’ve set, then they’re not worth working with.

Enjoy your downtime – if you are having a day off or you’ve vowed to finish at 5pm then don’t let anyone step in and try to persuade you to do more. Your downtime is there for a reason, you need to rest and relax – something that’s non-negotiable.

Work smarter, not harder – do you need to do 12 hours days or could you perhaps condense that down to 6 hours? Try cutting out mindless internet searching, facebooking and spending too much time on twitter and instead just get on with what you need to do. By vowing to be more disciplined then you could do what you need to do in less time. REMEMBER > quality not quantity.

Avoid people who suck your time and your energy – you know the type. People who if you’re around them for more than 10 minutes leave you feeling drained.

So tell me below, do you have your own rules for life?


Author: Rachael

I'm a journalist and creative consultant. I write about how busy women (just like you) can live, work and eat - better.

7 thoughts on “Decide on your rules and then stick to them…”

  1. Excellent, excellent post. Too often we sacrifice our standards in order to “break in” or “get known”, and typically you find out that doesn’t always work.

    We teach others how we want to be treated. Your advice of deciding your value and sticking to it is teaching others how you want to be treated and what your expectations are.

    Love. Love. LOVE this!

  2. Yes, absolutely. We needs to not only have rules but to set boundaries for ourselves. These are nothing more than guidelines for our lives. This isn’t like a positive or negative conversation. Just that we need to follow some type of substance. Really enjoyed the post!

  3. OUTSTANDING POST! Congrats on making a decision to stick with this and you are you are also employing attraction marketing where you are attracting the people who want to work with you. Keep us posted on your progress

  4. Great post! I have exactly the same philosophy about my pricing. I may not be the ‘cheapest’ but then I offer ‘The best’ and I have the most wonderful clients, so something is working!

    The email/Facebook issue is a whole other story! I need to work on that one!

    Thank you for sharing this! Very thought provoking.

    1. Same here Zara. I’m always wary of people who are the cheapest, especially when they’re hideously cheap. I mean how can they do quality work when they’re not getting the money needed to live?

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