I originally published this post on the Portsmouth and Southsea Consortium‘s Website in January 2017 as part of the PortsConsort Postcard series.
There’s great pressure to approach January rested, relaxed, renascent, rejuvenated… And whatever other benign R-word you can think of. Retromingent, perhaps? No. Probably not. Many manage to achieve this, after a week or so away from the desk and the pressures of the nine to five and some are raring to get back to the routine. Huh. More R-words.
For many independent businesspeople, whether or not they work in the creative industries, this isn’t the case. The need to pay the bills, coupled with the expectation to offer a service on a par with the corporate giants, can mean little or no time off is taken over the festive season, with a break from work more often than not taking the shape of work of another kind – the demands of the festive season are many and varied. And some, let’s not forget, manage their business alongside a day job or shift work. If you’ve never experienced this, imagine what it’s like to switch between having a boss and being your own boss sometimes twice or more the same day. It’s as demanding as it is exhausting. If you see yourself in any of this, this little message is for you:
As (what feels like) the rest of the World gets back into the swing of things, you never stopped. And that’s fine. We know it, you most definitely know it. And those who don’t know it… Tell them. We have a nasty habit of pretending that we share the same working routine as the rest of the population, telling people we take regular lunch breaks, days off and holidays so people see us the same way they see their colleagues and peers.
Well, we’re not, and perhaps it’s time we were more open about how we work and why we work this way. We’re all aware of the importance of a work/life balance, but there’s more than one way to achieve this. The best work/life balance is the one that works best for you; the one you’ve perfected over the years to respond to your routine. You don’t clock in or out; sometimes, you have to work round the clock. But you always know when to stop, for a while, and see what else is going on.
If you’re not already, make 2017 the year you become comfortable with the fact that, perhaps, you don’t split your weeks into weekdays and weekends; that a bank holiday is pretty much shorthand for ‘the bank and the post office are closed today’, and that this is simply the routine you need to live the life you want and do the work you want to do. Become comfortable talking about it. People assume you’re not doing this through choice – turn this on to its head and ask them why they choose the lifestyle they do, and the work routine they do. Help them see your working lives aren’t better or worse than each other – just different – and ask them to simply accept this; you don’t need their approval.