An owner’s manual for YOU

by Michele on October 3, 2012

Your biggest solopreneur asset is YOUThis post may not seem totally business focused because it’s about personal well-being and taking care of yourself.  However, for solopreneurs personal well-being is inseparable from business success.  You can’t give others your best when you feel lousy and are running on empty.  You can’t fill someone’s cup if your pitcher is empty.  So if your want a successful solopreneur business, your self-care must be a high priority.

One of my favorite concepts in self-care is the idea of creating an owner’s manual for you.  You have an owner’s manual for every car, appliance, electronic device and major purchase, so why not have one for your biggest asset – YOU? By the way, your owner’s manual doesn’t have to be written out but it does help to think of it just like the documentation that comes with big purchases.  It’s also important to remember that your owner’s manual is full of recommendations, not laws.  You can decide how closely to follow the manual, but if you at least know whats in it you can make informed choices. What goes into your owner’s manual?  It’s a personal list of best practices for YOU.  It’s the habits, choices and practices that make you perform and feel best.  It’s those things that life feels incomplete without. Here’s a few points to get you started on your owner’s manual, and some examples from mine:

  • Bedtime routine – what do you do before bed to help you sleep?  Here’s one of mine: If I watch TV in the few hours before bed, I have to avoid high-intensity shows or I have restless sleep.
  • Sleep – how much?  When?  Naps or not?
  • Food – which foods work great and which are not so great?  Which foods do you love but know are not supporting your health?
  • Exercise – how much?  What activities?  How often?  One of my favorite exercises is to do heavy weights at the gym.  I feel like I can do anything when I leave!
  • Environment – what do you need around you to feel your best?  I find when my space is not in order, it is mirrored in the way my brain works.
  • Social time vs. alone time – how much time do you need with other people?  How much time do you need alone?  Both are important to well-being.
  • Unscheduled time – how much time do you need with nothing planned?  I was surprised to learn how important this one is.  I need at least a few hours a week with nothing scheduled when I’m free to do whatever I want.
  • Quiet vs. noise – How much of each is best for you?  I love background music, but I do need to spend some time in total silence.
  • Other – are there any things you need that might not be so important for someone else?  Don’t negate their importance just because other people don’t find them relevant.

What do you need to be your best?  Start your owner’s manual today by leaving one item from your manual in the comments.


  1. Nancy says:

    Wonderful post and advice. As a solopreneur we sometimes forget about taking care of ourselves. Unscheduled time is my biggest challenge–great reminder to not feel guilty and take advantage of it!

    1. Michele says:

      Thanks Nancy! I just had to schedule some unscheduled time this morning. We’re having a big construction project this week, and I’ve been running non-stop for days. This morning, I could just tell I was off kilter and in need of some free time. I also love to block out Sunday afternoons for free time.

  2. Mozette says:

    Living in a unit complex, I find it hard with noise. I do have times where the place is totally and completely quiet, but not when I need it to be. Otherwise, most times I can cope with pretty much any kind of noise there is; from domestic fights to thumping music (the latter of course can get a bit much and I have had moments where I’ve asked the people deafening themselves to turn it down – and when they don’t, well, they find out how bad my temper does get… if all else fails, I then call the police).

    Last week, I had to organise myself to house sit this week. What would normally take anyone with a car about a day and half took me 5 days. I don’t have a car; so public transport it was… I had to pay off my layby at a music store, tell the post office where I was going (so they could hold my mail for me), organise a feeding block for my fishies – and hoped it worked. Then, I had to make sure I brought all the food I’d eat, books I wanted to read, my knitting and writing I wanted to do… pretty much anything I needed to bring… including organising my own birthday celebrations because Mum’s in hospital. All of this took 5 days; and it included cleaning my house and getting one of my neighbours to put out my bin and keep and eye on the place (he’s a bit of a rough diamond, but I’d rather him than anyone else).

    As for performing at my best? Well… so long I eat good, healthy food, get as much as 5 – 6 hours sleep a night (I sleep poorly due to medications for my Epilepsy, so that’s the best I can do) and make sure I have a good routine that varies from day to day – so I don’t get bored – I’m happy. Once I find that I’m wandering around the house and looking in the pantry, I know I need a change… and when I change something, I make sure it’s big! 😀

    1. Michele says:

      Mozette, you bring up a good point that you know when you’re looking in the pantry it’s time for a change. I think this is a great addition to the owner’s manual – know what the signs are when you haven’t been taking care of yourself in some way.

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