I’m a member of several networking groups and Facebook communities and it strikes me with the onset of the summer holidays we are all deliberating the same concerns. So I’ve written this response to polls and discussion points posing a real challenge to me – how do I think about whatever ‘it’ is and what am I going to do about ‘it’? Not only that, but some of the deliberations gave me permission to reinforce boundaries which are pertinent to clients.
Tom Wardman vlogged about the personal blurring with the professional. This resonated with me so much. When I worked for the Council I felt distinctly compartmentalised. I was one person in work and another at home and I cherished the home persona. These days I’m having to ‘bare my soul’, as it were, and tell you all about me and invite you in to glimpse my life. But all the time, I’m glimpsing the lives of those I’m networking with and very often find I’m considering these associates more as friends, pushing myself on them, more and more, not as a stalker, but because I genuinely want to get to know them. I’m intensely curious about how they spend their time and organise their lives. I want to learn from how they do things and how they manage to achieve high and professional standards whilst presenting themselves on a deeply personal, casual and approachable level with breath-taking generosity of spirit. As for being myself in sharing with others, actually it’s far easier than the compartmentalised approach to life. Holistic and healing. I’m absolutely no good at small talk and my tone habitually is terse and brusque. I’d prize myself in the Council that you’d never tell from a telephone call that I was talking to a loved one! So having to adopt this conversational tone in my writing is such a challenge and a learning experience.
As I’m writing this, by the way, I’m flitting to and fro the kitchen cooking curry and the cat’s beside me on the cat chair which doubles up for visiting clients.
I was asked whether I was going to spend the holidays working every day for a shorter period or setting aside two or three days a week for work and the rest for family? I did not know the answer to this! This is my first summer holiday working from home. Before, I’ve been working at client premises (and wishing I wasn’t). So I’d no experience to draw upon in finding an answer, amongst a room of women who volunteered their own patterns of work/life balance. This was compounded in my mind by Hubby being in a new job, no longer predictable 9-5, but all hours, sometimes here, mostly not – so I’ve no certainty; no point of reference, again. It was certainly thought-provoking.
I left that meeting and re-set the parameters of my opening hours on my Facebook business page. 0930-1530 hours is perfectly sufficient for clients to make telephone contact (see, terse!). I love being able to view and respond to emails and Messenger messages at my convenience. The fact that I may work to 1800 hrs is to my benefit. I’ve Auto Responders on hand should I subsequently apply a rigid digital-detox-discipline to my ‘notification’ habits.
Another community led me to strive for the business ideal of working through three daily tasks to ensure that things aren’t overlooked and that those three items are dealt with thoroughly and consistently. ‘Great plan!’, I thought, but to implement it I’ve had to work like fury for the past fortnight to deal with my ‘To Do’ list of nine items a day and resolve once and for all those tasks I keep meaning to do but somehow never address. And I’ve done it so that I can plan quality time with my family when we are able to all be together.
How to Solve the Work/Life Balance.
So, yes, I’ve three main tasks a day and I will aim to work each day to address these, probably finishing earlier in the day so as not to neglect my family. Yes, when plotting the three tasks I have been careful to avoid those days when I know Hubby will be home – in anticipation of a guilt-free family outing instead or assembling our Ikea furniture to enhance our quality of life and my sanity. Yes, I have diarised swimming with my son twice a week so that this is protected time. Yes, I can now see that the important something I had to do is scheduled for three weeks time and I am reassured that it is scheduled at all because under the three task rule it will be attended to meaningfully and not merely tinkered with and left incomplete.
Oh, I do hope the heatwave endures for the holibobs! The Prosecco is chilling. I’ve got it all in hand.