Finding a work/life balance is a constant struggle, especially when you work in an industry that crosses over into your personal life. I’m a freelance editor and a Publishing Director for a small press, and I work from home, there isn’t much differentiation between the space that I feel relaxed in and the space that I need to do business in. My work e-mail gets sent to my phone, where I’m constantly checking social media to make sure I’m keeping up with potential clients. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my e-mail, check social media, and consider whether or not to advertise my editing business. Most of my day is then dedicated to getting client work done, answering e-mails, and making sure I’m active on Twitter. I work through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I mean, reading and eating go hand in hand right?
Aside from taking the small breaks here and there, work is my life. I feel guilty when I take the time to work on my own writing, when I leave the house to run errands, or when I’m doing anything other than making sure my clients are happy.
I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But it’s also been the most difficult to juggle with the rest of my life. It’s not like an office job where I have set hours, where my boss sees what I’m working on and knows that I’m earning my paycheck. It’s not like I’m working to meet quotas or selling a certain amount of shirts, shoes, or whatever else. I’m my own boss, I answer to myself and to my clients.
But I also know I can’t keep living like work is the only thing in my life. A big part of my anxiety stems from my job, and from doing things that are not work related. So I’m making changes to help bring a better work/life balance to my life and to help me feel less guilty.
I like tweeting when I’m working on my own projects. With a book coming out, and my hunt for an agent for a different project, I need to spend time working on my own writing. But whenever I do tweet, it never fails: a client will e-mail me asking for an update. And I get it — I’ve worked with freelance editors and I’m always on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear back. I’ve seen their tweets and felt the same excitement, but disappointment, to see that they’re not working on my project but their own. So to combat the guilt, I now set up vacation mode on my work e-mail. On days I set aside as non-work days (which is normally only one day a week), if a client checks in about anything they’ll get an answer right away: that I’m out of the office and they’ll get a response on a specific date.
The guilt of working on my own work is something I’m still struggling with. I don’t know if this is something that will ever go away, but I’m trying. I read non-work books before bed. I started riding horses again — my only other out of the house activity outside of grocery shopping. I’m making time for my friends. I’ve also set up weekly personal goals: so many pages edited or written of my own projects, what book I want to finish reading for fun, so many hours spent just being a mindless vegetable on the couch re-watching my favorite show.
I love my work, but it shouldn’t rule my life. I shouldn’t feel guilty about only working 50 hours during a week instead of 60. As long as I keep my promises, make my deadlines, it’s okay to make time for me.