Vacation can be a wonderful thing. A week or two of being productive in our own ways – knitting, painting, jogging, catching up on missed episodes of your favourite shows – can often be just what we need to jumpstart our career-related productivity. We return to our desk refreshed and renewed, with a whole new cheerful vigor to our work ethic. For a few days, anyway.
But there’s another, darker side to vacation. Holidays, particularly those that are more or less open-ended, can lead to a dangerous downward spiral of inactivity. Those unpaid projects – in my case crochet scarves, swimming, and sewing random things – can shift from time-fillers to time-wasters. Why work on that article, when instead I can whip up another toque, or splash around in zero gravity for awhile?
I know why, of course. Because by allowing these hobbies to take over my life, I will very quickly run short of savings and be forced to apply to the Starbucks located up the street.
I’m exaggerating a little bit. Freelancing is great, and my current clients have no complaints about my work ethic. But the thing is, when its up to me to choose when I work, and for how long, sometimes I can get a bit …let’s call it lazy. I end up starting to work at five in the evening, and only because I have to put in so many hours today and I’m swiftly running out of said hours.
Picking when I get to work is lovely, to be honest, especially in the dead of winter when you don’t go out past four pm unless you want to come home in the dark. So, I do all my errands while most other people are at work (though, geez, it’s still damn busy out there – doesn’t anyone work anymore?!), and save my buckling down for the after-hours.
There’s another small issue involved in doling out my own work schedule. I have a really short attention span, which translates to splitting my working day into multiple sessions.
This is great, because it means I’m actually working for that full one-hour period – I know I get an hour off after that, so why not?
But often this flimsy schedule, combined with the fact that I only work “part-time” right now, leads to day in and day out of three-ish hour workdays – for weeks.
And as much as that probably sounds amazing to people working 8-hour shifts at a desk or behind a counter (believe me, I was right there with you 2 months ago), you’d be amazed at how even short shifts can wear on you if you don’t take a day off now and then.
I know – it sounds incredibly whiny, and I almost want to slap myself, but I’m just telling it like it is.
So, the takeaway from this installment of The Road to Freelancing is two-fold:
- Holidays are great, but if they aren’t strictly limited, they might just cling on.
- Forty hours of work still deserves a day off, even if it was spread out over 10 days…
Tune in next time, to hear all about how I tried to stick to an 8-hour schedule and failed miserably! (Episode currently in production…) You can check out the first post in this series (which should be in part VI or so by now but, well, lazy) here.