Freelance Blog + writing

My Secret to Work-Life Balance

Last weekend the boyfriend and I took a little vacay to Cape Cod. Since neither of us works a standard 9-5 day, we figured we could leave Friday afternoon and beat the traffic. But just as I was leaving my apartment, my cell phone rang.

I didn't recognize the number, so I answered it in case it was Random House calling to offer me a six figure book deal (OK, I'm partly joking). It was a potential client returning my call, so we chatted for a few minutes while the boyfriend sat in his car waiting for me. I apologized for the wait, and we hit the road.

Then, just as we turned onto the freeway (which was already congested with weekend drivers, by the way), I got another call. It was a current client who is really hard to reach. Again, I answered and the boyfriend waited patiently.

After call #2, he made this observation: "I'm really proud of you, but I don't think I could ever be a freelance writer. How do you know when to stop working? I'd be at my computer 24/7."

Well, I am sort of at my computer 24/7 (probably more like 18/7). When I get an idea for an article, I can't resist the temptation to google the topic and see what's been covered in the past. Or I'll check my email one last time before bed, which turns into an hour long blogfest.

But even I know how important it is to set aside personal time, whether that means sneaking off to the Cape or squeezing in an afternoon workout. I actually schedule that time in Google calendar. So, in the morning, when Google sends me my agenda for the day, it reads something like this:

8-9am answer emails/send follow-ups
9-11am research for career article
11:30am phone interview with Sally Smith
noon-1pm lunch/blog reading
1-3pm write career article
3pm leave for matinee of Sex and the City
6pm writing class

Seeing the time blocked out on my calendar legitimizes it. Sure, sometimes I'll shift personal time so I can finish an email or answer the phone (as mentioned above), but having that downtime written down is really important. That's really the secret: not waiting until everything else is done before you allow yourself to rest. I've learned to schedule downtime and treat it with (almost) as much respect as I would a professional appointment.

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