Work-life vs. home-life,

published at 9:05am on 05/31/07

After finding myself at a job that requests that I actually spend a significant amount of time showing my face at the office, I found myself musing on the aspects of freelance work that I am actually looking forward to once I move on from my current situation (which is not to say, of course, that I am looking to move on, but simply that in this day and age, to stay at any job for more than a couple of years speaks to either your insane dedication or inability to move forward in your given career trajectory).

After college I found myself at two full-time jobs at startups followed by a brief stint working full-time in theatre, before ultimately ending up with a combination of freelance technology work and freelance theatre electrics work. Over time, this shifted more towards the technology end of work and after three years, I found myself completely burnt out on sitting at my computer in my living room, alone, every day, and ready to return to the world of coworkers, lunch breaks and year-end bonuses.

What I found, though, was that this did not jive at all with the way that my brain likes to think about work, and my working environment.

The reasons for my leaving the freelance life are varied (and probably flawed at the time, though in hindsight I would probably have done it again). One of the things that I’ve often said about working freelance is that, schedule-wise, I end up working all the time. That is to say, I can come home from dinner, see an email from a client, and I might start working then and there. Or I might wake up early to work. Or I might work my way through lunch, and forget to eat until dinner, if then.

While this “work always” mindset may seem a bit insane (and is probably what burnt me out in the first place), there is also the flip side to that situation, which is that I can simultaneously “work never.” I can take a two-hour lunch break and not have to worry that someone is banging on my desk wondering where I am. I can leave to go to meet my friends for dinner, or take in a play, or go on a photo outing and know that, as long as I finish everything I need to finish, then my actions impact me, and me alone.

As I found myself rushing about the other morning performing my morning routine, I also noticed that I do not enjoy the separation of work and home life that so many people tout as one of the benefits of having a full-time, “go to the office” kind of job. While there may be something to be said for being able to “leave my work at the office,” in practice, I find that the corollary – that I am forced to leave my personal life at home – is far more inconvenient. I resent that I am forced to perform all of my personal tasks in two chunks, one in the morning, before work, and one in the evening, after work, and that during that middle period, I do not have access to all of the things (my files, my apartment, my stuff) that make performing those personal tasks possible.

When I was freelancing, my morning routine consisted of a bike ride, a shower and then, intermixed, with working for the rest of the day, tasks such as: eating breakfast, updating my web site, doing laundry, making and eating lunch, grocery shopping, making personal phone calls, dusting my apartment, folding my socks, reading the newspaper. All of these tasks would be stretched out over an entire workday-plus, with no discernible difference between when I was “working” and when I was not.

As it stands now, my morning routine consists of a bike ride (if I can fit it into the schedule, for this takes up the largest chunk of time that can not be shared with any other tasks except for listening to NPR), breakfast, updating my web site, checking personal emails and, today, dying my hair and whitening my teeth (man, I am so vain). Note however that all of these need to be performed before I even get to the office, and though I have the flexibility to show up approximately whenever I want, that is still a significant amount of energy that needs to be expended at the beginning of the day, and a lot of my mental capacity that needs to be taken up simply by considering all of the things that I need to do before I “start the day” (and knowing that once I leave the house I am most likely not going to do any of those things that I missed until the evening).

Which is, of course, why I ended up working from home yesterday, and why I didn’t mind working all of Memorial Day this year. In both those instances, I was able to get my work and my personal task completed and was able to get a couple of hours out in the lovely, lovely summer sun at the same time.

While I recognize that I completely burnt out on freelancing the first time around (living a life solely in my apartment, without any coworkers, without the separation of work life from home life), I have finally come to realize that the lifestyle that it enabled me to live was worth all of the headaches that went along with it.

I will definitely get it right the next time around, I promise.

Filed under: Personal

At 9:48 pm on 06.04.07, Katie said,

Thanks for the post. I have been thinking about the boundaries I have drawn between my work and home life, and your entry helped me to see it from a new perspective – I, too, enjoy waking up early on a weekday morning, not to go to work, but to take a long bike ride, eat a leisurely breakfast, do some yoga, then casually get to work when I’m feeling good and ready. I believe that people work best when they *want* to work, not when the clock says they have to. Lucky for me, I like my job, so I usually want to work, but I think I would like my job a whole lot more if I could decide when it got done. (And, consequently, I would enjoy my personal life more if I could do things for myself when I needed to.)

At 1:40 am on 05.09.08, Navtej kohli said,

We have to keep separate our professional life to our personal life. Sometimes person mix their both life , At last they had to left at least one . Know more about how to keep separate
Navtej Kohli Personal life experience

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