In a Medium article last April, Alana Massey reflected on the effects of "chill", arguing we had reached peak chill. "Chill has now slithered into our romantic lives and forced those among us who would like to exchange feelings and accountability to compete in the Blasé Olympics with whomever we are dating," she wrote.
I'd argue that "chill" hasn't just 'slithered' into our dating lives, it's pervaded our professional lives, as well.
And, in the same way, "chill" is just as detrimental in the workplace. In an epic effort to "unchill" – here's a list of things you should unapologetically care about to be the best Girlboss you can be.
Ready? Sit up straight and pay attention :
Get on your client's butt about invoices. Seriously. They will NOT think you are stuffy or money-obsessed. They WILL think you are on top of your game and take you more seriously as a professional. It's best to establish this tone right off the bat, once a client gets used to lenient invoice due dates, it's hard to go back.
Establish your worth. Lowering your cost is not doing a friend a favor if it makes you resent their project and muddies your relationship. It has to be an equal energetic exchange – if they have a low budget, a barter or service trade can be a great option.
Find a way to make it constructive. There's a difference between "This isn't working because it feels too modern." and "You chose a shitty color." Part of your work is to educate the client on how to give productive feedback (think improv's "yes and" technique). Be relentless with the need for why, even when it feels scary or annoying to do so. Deep breathes, Girlboss. You can.
Set your boundaries and stand by them. Only you know can know what you're comfortable with, but I'd advise to err on the side of less than you think. In the kickoff phases of a project, you set expectations for your entire relationship. The first time a client texts you "emergency" quick-turnaround work*, it is easy to hop right in and help them out. A few months of being text message "on-call" 24/7 will wear your down quickly and damage your client relationship. If you prefer email to text, let your client know and keep gently reminding them if they stray. Honoring your quiet, disconnected time will keep you fresh and producing stronger work in the long run.
*In the case of actual emergencies - an additional rush charge can be helpful in both honoring your time and fulfilling the client's needs.
5. Open hours
The struggle is so, so real with this one. Getting an alert on your phone every time a new email comes in can be delightful when it's a sale notification from your favorite shop. It's far less delightful when you're at dinner with your partner and get bad news from a client. Protect your brain by setting open hours. My genius friend / mentor Lindsay of White Oak Creative has an out-of-office auto-reply set up for "non-office hours". It includes when she checks email (specific blocked out times of each day) and why (to stay productive and focused).
Standing up for yourself and drawing boundaries can be a work in progress in a world obsessed with who-can-be-the-chillest. In my dabbling, I've found that what I was afraid of was never even close to the actual outcome. Expressing value, availability, communication boundaries and deadlines has actually created stronger client relationships and encouraged a sustainable format for clear, efficient dialogue.
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Try some of these and let me know how it goes! What works best for you? Sound off below: