Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Work life balance

The concept of achieving a work-life balance has maybe become a bit hackneyed as a term over the last few years but as a reality it is something I have been trying very hard to get right.

I love my work but the problem is that in reality I am employed part time for a variable and uncertain number of days at one job and self employed in two other jobs at the same time ( all of which are related to law), with aspirations to keep up the paying hobby of freelance writing from time to time. Making sure that there is a sensible and sustainable balance of these three primary sources of income, is hard enough but then I have to add onto that the fight to get a life outside of work. Not easy when the self employment necessarily involved travel around the country and papers that arrive in the late afternoon by email or, worse, in the evening by motor cycle courier.

In 2006 I decided not to take bookings to work in court or lecture in Mondays. This resulted in a loss of income but meant I had a day free for prep and paperwork which is a large part of the job. The knock on of that is that I got my weekends free. (Mostly. When it works!). I am sure that it is no co-incidence that it was at the same time that I accidentally discovered quilting. I had time to have a go and, well.... the rest is history and a blog.

Why I am thinking about this tonight? Well first because I am blogging from a residential course in Warwick. Downstairs the event is still ongoing ( it is now 10pm). Most of my colleagues are either in the bar watching a football match together, listing to a string quartet brought in for our delectation or - assuming someone responded to the notice on the lecture hall door earlier -having a couple of rubbers of bridge. Me? I left after desert and have spent the last hour watching Jamie Oliver teaching Rotherham how to cook and hand quilting my City and Guilds cushion.

Does this make me anti-social? Did I make a big mistake telling my colleagues that was what I was going to do? Do I care? Well, actually I am having a little crisis of confidence that I might have got it wrong and let the life overtake the work inappropriately on this occasion. But then, my day started at 8am this morning with a communal breakfast and I have been with my colleagues until 9.15pm. Is that not enough?!

6 comments:

Quilt Pixie said...

I found that if I divide the day into 4 parts -- morning, afternoon, early evening/late afternoon and evening/night I know that in a week there are 4*7 =28 time units... I then simply figure out how many I'm willing to devote to work and how many are "for me". Right now my ratio is 11 units work, 17 units me (family)when I work the 11 units in a week varies all over the calendar, but 11 units it is... At other points in my life there was a different ratio of school/work/life but as system it works for me as it allows great flexibilty without feeling I'm "cheating" any area of my life...

Sharon said...

I think how you relax at the end of a working day is up to you. You don't need to justify your 'down' time.
Personally I find the minute I start stitching the stress levels drop and I can switch off.
Love your blog!

Vicki W said...

Fortunately for me, I have severe allergies and can't often do whatever it is that everyone else is doing - espeically if it involves being outside or a smokey restaurant. That means that I get a lot of quality hand sewing time to myself when I am traveling! I suggest that you "develop" an allergy and then everyone will feel sympathy for you when you HAVE to go to your hotel room alone.

The Calico Cat said...

I have been sent to training away from the work site where I had hotel accomodations provided. I packed up my sewing & worked on that in the evenings - some of my most productive quilting time...

You stuck it out through desert - give yourself a break!

Tami said...

In those situations I found that it was so much easier to say that you were tired and wanted to rest the remainder of the evening. Unfortunately it always seems that you're expected to have one drink with the colleagues. Buy one drink and then go upstairs. I wouldn't let them know what you'd really spend your time on. It's easier for them to think that you're under the weather than to abandon them for art. :-)

Janet said...

I always read your blog as we have Ciyt & Guilds in common and seem to be at roughly the same stage. I am also similar in that I am self employed, have more than one income stream and have the same problems making time for my quilting in a very busy life. None of this would have made me comment - but I did want to share this.......
My main place of work is Rotherham college - over the summer I did some work on the Jamie Oliver programme - what am I doing with the extra unexpected income?? Going to Paducah of course!! Cheers Jamie!