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Following on from Charlie Clown's Topic


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I guess there are quite a lot of self-employed people who post here. I've worked for myself for a large part of my life and have always had difficulty drawing the line between work and not-work. While I've got better recently I can still find it hard to separate the two. I'm wondering how other people do this, and more generally, how people introduce variation/breaks into the working day when they work from home/on their own.

 

I generally start working when my better half leaves for work and take a long break (90 mins+) during the day to go out for lunch/a long walk and listen to podcasts. This equates to the time that would otherwise be spent getting to/from work and its one of the attractions of working from home but the lack of clear division between where you live and work has lots of disadvantages. I've find myself sitting down at my desk at 6.30am in the morning and not getting up until 7pm far too often. I no longer bring my laptop in to the bedroom at night but I still check my work mail if I wake up during the night (I live in Asia but work with clients from here and Europe) mostly because I feel I should be available when they are working. Few if any of them think the same but still...

 

I'm trying to change the types of work I take on. I've worked with a mixture of corporate and non-profit clients over the last 7 or 8 years. The former has traditionally subsidised the latter and allowed me take on work I would otherwise not be able to do. I'm happy with doing this, even if the balance is not right. I tend not to treat work with non-profits as a commercial activity and end up significantly undercharging or not charging for work that I do.

 

This place serves as a 'social distraction' from work. I usually log in when I start working and leave a window open while I'm at my desk. In general, there are plenty of smart, funny and generous spirited people posting here.

 

Lunch over. Back to work....

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I think you already know some of the answers.

 

Stop checking work email when you wake up, your clients need to understand that there's a trade off with commissioning someone that lives in Asia, make it explicit when you will and when you wont be responding to email and stick to it. This also goes for having 12 hours availability by email, stop it and give yourself clear hours.

 

Charge your non profits. Even if it's only a nominal price but people respect more that work they pay for it forces them to have a clear understanding of what they are trying to do. Be realistic when you give your clients schedules ensure you have enough time before an update to do the stuff your updating them with.

 

Be clear what type of work life balance it is your looking for, you may be able to do 60 hours per week accounting for the lack of travel time, you may also have to do over 50 if you want to subsidise the non profit stuff but that's a work life trade off you can be happy with because you've decided on it.

 

it's also difficult now knowing what you do as to how you need to respond to customers queries but accounting for appropriate time upfront has to help

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I think you already know some of the answers.

 

Stop checking work email when you wake up, your clients need to understand that there's a trade off with commissioning someone that lives in Asia, make it explicit when you will and when you wont be responding to email and stick to it. This also goes for having 12 hours availability by email, stop it and give yourself clear hours.

 

Charge your non profits. Even if it's only a nominal price but people respect more that work they pay for it forces them to have a clear understanding of what they are trying to do. Be realistic when you give your clients schedules ensure you have enough time before an update to do the stuff your updating them with.

 

Be clear what type of work life balance it is your looking for, you may be able to do 60 hours per week accounting for the lack of travel time, you may also have to do over 50 if you want to subsidise the non profit stuff but that's a work life trade off you can be happy with because you've decided on it.

 

it's also difficult now knowing what you do as to how you need to respond to customers queries but accounting for appropriate time upfront has to help

 

Yip, that's stuff I've already thought about and am trying to do but you are dealing with a lifetime of working habits that won't change overnight. I don't want to work 60 hours a week any more. For one thing, I'm no longer physically able because of my epilepsy but even if that wasn't the case, I'd still want things to different.

 

Anyway, that wasn't really the point of the original question. I'm just interested to know if/how people fit in the 'non-working' parts of going to work when they work for themselves.

 

I had some time to kill :D

 

A couple more displays like the one yesterday and the less reasonable members may want to kill you.

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I work from home most days and have done for the last 10 years or so but have never had a problem with work/life balance.

 

I start early ie about 7.30 and sort mails etc that have come in from the previous evening, break for lunch about 12.15 (Ok I watch Bargain Hunt :hmm: ) then work thru til about 4.30 when I go to the gym or whatever. At no point do I think about work after that

 

Its important when you are a home worker to have a cut off point as you wont be doing yourself any favours and you will be far more productive when fully rested

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I ran a session on work life balance with a Management team at Boots last week. What came out of it was that everyone has a different balance and it's all about the choices you make.

 

1st step is to draw up a picture of what a good work life balance looks like for you. In your posts you talk about what you don't want anymore, but what exactly do you want instead? Until you have that clear in your mind you can't start to make changes.

 

Taking a break during the day as you do is a good idea, why an hour and a half and how often do you do it? Some tips that came out of the session last week were:

 

1) set aside specific times of the day to do specific tasks.

 

2) work out when you are at your most energetic during the day, mentally and/ or physically, and allocate this time to doing the work that has the most impact on ou or your business - eg if you are at your best 10-12.30 don't spend that time on here, answering emails etc

 

3) when planning your time use a diary or things to do list and start off allocating time to personal stuff rather than work. If you decide you want finish work on Thursday at 4.30pm to spend time with family, friends or doing something for yourself you will tend to find you are more focussed during the day to ensure you finish on time.

 

None of this stuff is rocket science it comes back to your desire to change the habits you have built up over the years. A good book to read in this respect is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

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Like Montse I've been working from home off and on for most of the last 10-12 years, but much more so over the last couple of years, I'm now wfh for 2-4 days per week. For the first year or two I used to really struggle to actually get down to any work, almost enythijg seemed more intersting than the stuff that I had to do to earn a living. And of course the masturbation was a big problem ( © Mitchell & Webb).

 

These days it's flipped round altogether and I usually have to tear myself away from work at about 6.30-7.00 in the evening having worked more or less through from somewhere around 8.30 give or take.

 

There are a couple of things that I think keep me sane: I often have the TV on - oddly I find it less intrusive than the radio - so I watch films, documentaries etc. whilst I am doing work that doesn't demand my full attention. And I find the opportunity to go out of the house and just do other stuff really useful as well - wandering down to the post office or the bank if I need to, or out for a coffee with the missus, an early finish on a day with decent weather for a round of golf, all add hugely to my quality of life in a way that I just couldn't manage if I was office bound. And the basic ability to have a nap now and again cannot be underestimated. And neither can the fantastic option of working with a bottle of wine at my elbow as I begin to wind down on a Friday...

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In that case you can work for me Kahn, do half of my stuff (you can work from home n all) and, what the hell, I'll double that salary for you. And give you a 25% of salary bonus on a quarterly basis if you hit my targets.

 

Where's the catch?

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