Thursday, 9 August 2012

# 104 Work life balance

I think I've posted on this subject before, but it was just a pipedream at that point. Now it is reality and I'm living it.

I've been about 2 months out of Uni now, and after a slow start I've finally stepped up a gear and am earning enough to pay the bills.

The thing is (and I'm not sure whether this is a complaint or a boast) every day is pretty much the same. I don't miss the rat race or being locked in an office for 37 hours a week but working from home does have a few tinsy problems. This is partly brought on by the fact that I don't have a family dictating to me the structure of my day. There are no kids to pick up from school, no partner coming in at 6pm expecting his dinner and no real weekend family commitments to push me into a five day week.

So essentially each day is the same and I divide it between working from home making stuff, admin, errands in town such buying supplies or wheeling a cart load of ebay wins to the post office, photoshoots (which could be anywhere), meeting clients and occasional social gatherings depending on how profitable the week has been. If  the weather is nice I can work in the garden. I can take a nap at lunch time (which no matter how tired I might be never happens) and I can go to bed as late as I like and get up as late as I like (which is now sabotaging my sleep patterns horrendously). Essentially weekends, bank holidays and evenings are pretty much the same as any other day or hour.

In many respects I don't mind this, but the lack of cut off points where I have  to stop work to attend to other things does tend to mean I plod slowly through work requirements between 9am and 9pm 7 days a week, stopping as and when to sort washing, do housework and catch up on Facebook.

I'm guessing this can't be good. I also don't have a particular room in which I work, so everywhere I live, is pretty much everywhere I work. Again, I'm guessing this can't be a good thing, right?

I suspect that my work life balance is tipping into the 'life' category more than the 'work' category right now, but things have been slow to get started (entirely my own fault) and I'm only just over a month into official trading so I know this will change and will no doubt come in ebbs and flows. It's the nature of the beast.

There are plenty of advice pages on the internet on getting the balance right. I think I am one of those people that enjoys their job enough that they don't mind it encroaching on their personal life. Since the work part of my life is the bigger part of the pie I'm happy for it to fill the gaps and all the time it's earning enough to get me by (the short term aim of course) that's just fine with me. I think if I was missing out on social occasions and fun stuff it would become a problem but in all honesty work is the thing keeping me motivated at the moment so I'm happy for it to take the helm.

less than two decades – in other words, roughly the lifetime of the 
internet – the number of people saying they have no one with whom 
to discuss important issues has nearly tripled.

Thankfully there are certain rules I do follow. Despite rarely setting an alarm these days I generally still wake up at a 'normal' time. I always get dressed and ready first thing and I make sure that my day is structured with a list of things that must be done as well as things that can flow over to the next day. I make sure that each day has at least half a dozen essential things that must be done. They might not all be work related but it keeps me working to a timetable and ensures I don't procrastinate too much which is a terrible habit I learnt from being at Uni.

Apparently there are around 5.4 million households where at least one person works from home. Dubbed by Boris Johnson as the 'skivers charter' it's become a way of life for many people, whether they are self employed or 'hot desking' for a company.

Not getting out and about and meeting people - that basic human contact that keeps us all sane, is definitely the biggest drawback in our ever increasingly internet based world and I know I am not alone is feeling a little bit - well alone.

I space out my work based 'social occasions' carefully throughout the week to make sure I'm not staying in for days on end. Very quickly you can find yourself rarely talking to anyone other than the postman on a daily basis and you have to stay on top of that kind of thing.

The most important fact I have learnt about working like this is that I am not the only one. Far from it. And that in itself is a comfort. Perhaps I should join some discussion groups and touch base with my self employed friends going through the same things. I'm sure there are plenty on my doorstep, if only I could find the motivation to do it.

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