Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Switching Off: Not Even A Holiday Can Stop ME!

When I tell people that I work from home, the most common reaction I get is, "Ooh, I couldn't do that. I'd get easily distracted by things to do around the house, or just wouldn't bother getting out of bed 'til late."

Surprisingly, what I've so-far found in my short, work-from-home freelance career is that it's amazingly easy to not be a lazy fucker, especially when you see the state of your bank balance at the end of the month. So, it's not the getting motivated that's the problem, it's the learning when to stop and switch off that I find tougher. There is no home-time bell, no contracted hours, no office manager or building security chap to say, "it's time to stop and go home."

I've been learning and realising that knowing when to stop requires just as much discipline as getting started.

Recently I've had the opportunity to sink my teeth into some meaty articles and I've really enjoyed researching and writing them. As I touched on in a recent post, some days I simply sit and read for work. I can do this for hours before consolidating what's relevant to put into the piece I'm working on. Finally, I've been fully enjoying and loving what I do and I've become more confident too, taking on more and more projects. Apologies, I don't mean to sound smug, I know there are a good many people stuck in jobs they wish they weren't and trust me, I know how that feels. It's taken a lot of "uhm'ing" and "ah'ing" and much soul searching and questioning my career options, before finally getting to this stage and now I'm reluctant to let it go.

Last week the boyfriend and I went on holiday to Fuerteventura. Yes, it was lovely thank you for asking, but I found it hard to stop and relax which I thought was weird and a bit unsettling. I'd been gagging for this holiday before we went away having not taken any real time off since January. There were a whirlwind of deadlines I needed to meet before we caught our flight and it was all go, go, GO! in my little home office. I loved it because it felt like being on press and that's definitely something I miss about not working on staff at a magazine. A bit of pressure never did any journalist any harm.

For the first two/three days of being on holiday, I couldn't relax. My phone was off, there were no emails to check, no press events to go to, articles to write or edit. My only job was to sit. Read (something not work related). Relax. I found that hard at first and it made me anxious, having the total reverse effect of what "a holiday" is designed to do.

A few ice creams and a dune buggy adventure ride around the volcanoes later and I was managing to get into the swing of it. By this time is was Wednesday rolling into Thursday; we were due to fly back on Saturday. Still, I did get some days of R&R, feeling the most tranquil when I was at the beach, floating and swimming in the crystal clear ocean.

Do you know the first thing I did when we got back to the UK though? Correct, I turned on my phone and checked my work email. We hadn't even got to baggage reclaim and it was a Saturday. There was no reason why I couldn't have waited to check until Monday. It was my boyfriend's reaction that possibly prompted me to question my ability to switch off, when he said: "So that's it then? Holiday over?" I felt bad. I'd definitely screwed up the work/life balance on that occasion.

Since being back I've worked until 8pm or 9pm every night and my mind has been ticking over with readings and ideas all the time I'm not sat at my laptop. I know, I know! There will be some people out there thinking, 'Is that it? I work until 2 or 3 in the AM,'. Well, that's fine, but I am definitely more of a lark than an owl. Give me an early, productive start over a late finish any time.

Slipping back into work-mode has been so easy and I've got a whole new set of projects to start now. There are also some interesting looking events I'm going to over the next month, again all work-related, and although I'm excited by them I'm conscious of the fact that a lot of my conversation, socialising and evenings are still me being switched on for work.

Definitely, one of the biggest pitfalls, or toughest things to get right is a life/work balance.

RoseC -x-

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