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Nobody's perfect

Sally-Anne Watson Kane . Saturday, October 08, 2016 . Comments
Nobody's perfect

Do you work in a home-based office and are your own boss? If so, you probably expect your work to be perfect - especially if, like me, you are an editor and proofreader. You probably also expect to one day achieve perfect work-life balance.

But nobody's perfect and work-life balance is a work in progress.

Expecting your work to be always perfect

When working, I am focused on quality. I guarantee clients that my proofread transcripts are highly accurate; whilst they may not be perfect every single time - there may be an occasional missing comma or dropped capital - they are an accurate representation of the words spoken. When editing and proofreading reports and publications, I do a really good job. When writing, I make mistakes but I correct them during the editing process. I make sure all my submissions are of high quality. Overall, I consider my work to be 'pretty perfect'.

That is why when I occasionally make a mistake in my work, I am shocked by the sudden reminder that I am actually human and that nobody's perfect. If you too are a perfectionist and feel gutted whenever you make a mistake, the trick is to go straight into repair mode by:

  • Identifying the problem and why it occurred,
  • Coming up with a solution so you can repair the problem, and
  • Working out a way to avoid that problem from occurring in future, then
  • If the mistake is in a document you've submitted to a client, immediately tell the client what has happened and your plan of action which should include fixing the problem, resubmitting the document and offering recompense (such as a discount) to the client, if your mistake has caused them any inconvenience.
  • If the mistake is an in-house problem (such as administrative or book-keeping, or a mistake in a document that hasn't yet been submitted): fix the problem. No need to tell anyone.

Expecting perfect work-life balance

Ever since I started managing my home-based business I've been trying to achieve perfect work-life balance which is quite hard to do when you love your work, are focused on your work and are your own boss.

The first step towards achieving good work-life balance is keeping your personal life quite separate from your work. The second step is learning to 'switch off' from work when you finish work so that you can 'switch on' to your personal life every time you attempt to live it. The third step is treating your personal life as if it is as important as your work life.

I find the third step the most difficult because 1) my work life is what brings you an income without which you cannot live, 2) my work has to be really good to give clients value for money, 3) I get immense job satisfaction out of doing good work, and 4) society has trained me to think that doing things that make money is more important than doing things that don't make money.

I regularly treat my work appointments and meetings as more important than personal appointments and meetings. I'm very organised in my work but very disorganised in my personal life. I'm very good at remembering things in my work but very forgetful in my personal life where I regularly forget dentist appointments, social meetings, people's birthdays, or that we've run out of milk or clean undies. Each time I forget or stuff something up in my personal life it causes a small problem (usually for others, not me). I feel guilty, say sorry and determine to not make that same mistake again. It's at those times I remind myself:

  • Managing a home-based business is hard work, especially for parents/carers.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. Some people make more than others. Try to learn from them.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect life or perfect work-life balance. They are works in progress.

Life's a roller coaster

There is a difference between striving for perfection and thinking you will actually achieve a perfect life, or perfect work-life balance. The real world isn't perfect and you are part of that world. You will continue to occasionally make a mistake in your work life and often make a mistake in your personal life.

That's all part of the continuing roller coaster that is the very stuff of life: learning, growing, making mistakes, learning again and growing again, and making mistakes again, and so on.

The good news is that the roller coaster is where it's at. Enjoy the ride.

This article is based on my own experiences since starting On Time Typing as a small (sole trader) online/onsite scribing business in 2002 which has evolved into an online transcription, scribing, writing, editing and proofreading business.

Stay posted for future articles about  the pros and cons of working from home, how to maintain good work-life balance and other aspects of managing small businesses. 

Copyright Sally-Anne Watson Kane, On Time Typing. Please seek my permission prior to reproducing this article in any way but feel free to link directly to this page if you wish to use this content - thanks!

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