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Working when life interferes

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Everybody's life gets messy. You get sick, or someone you love does. Or maybe it's as simple as trying to finish a commission while planning your kid's birthday party, and your friend wants you to sing at her wedding, and it's all supposed to happen the same week. How are you supposed to prioritize? How can you accomplish all of it while making sure you're holding up your responsibilites with customers, family and loved ones?

I don't have answers to this conundrum.  I really don't. It's something I've struggled with since the beginning. When I worked outside my home business, it was always clear where my boundaries lay. Obviously, I had to fulfill job requirements to keep my job and keep that money coming in for my family. And of course loved ones came before making pretty things; the creative work was easy to move to the back burner.

But it's much harder to move it to the back when it's your job. Your work no longer fits in a neat 8-hour (or 10-hour, or 12-hour) box. Working for yourself full-time often means working the majority of the time you're awake, because it's pretty darned hard to keep a regular income otherwise. So taking time to plan a party, to visit a sick loved one, to participate in big life events--all these mean work hours lost, which means money lost. There is no PTO when you work for yourself in a microbusiness. So you might find yourself forced to choose between real financial difficulties, or missing out on really Big Things--the very things you may have quit your dayjob to make time for in the first place. As I said at the outset, I don't have an answer to this. The last couple of months, I have sacrificed quite a lot of sleep to make up for the hours I missed due to a Big Thing (an illness in the family; I needed to be there to help take care of loved ones). I know there has to be a better way, but I haven't found it yet.

Another problem for a lot of home artisans is constant distractions. If you're lucky enough to live in a space with a room you can escape to, it's a little easier to minimize those distractions.  But if you're like me, you don't have enough space to create a bolt-hole. My work area is in the kitchen/dining room, in an open-plan apartment. My computer desk is at the edge of my living room. There simply is no other space for me to work, so I have to minimize the distractions any way I can. My waking/sleeping hours run counter to my family's; I sleep while they're away at work and school. I wake up in time to make dinner and have a little family time, and then I work while they sleep. It works pretty well, but it does make daytime events difficult to attend, and I do encounter quite a bit of judgment from some people in my life (it's weird to me how staying up at night to work=immoral/lazy to some, but there it is). 

When I get super, super frustrated with being pulled in seventeen directions at once, I remind myself how utterly miserable I was when I answered phones and listened to people complain all day, every day, for my paycheck. I really am very fortunate to be able to pursue a creative life, no matter how stressful it can be at times. I guess the long and the short of it is that trying to make a living following your passion ain't easy. It never has been, and maybe it shouldn't be. Regardless, it's worth it, if you really love what you're doing.

 

 

Comments

If someone works the night

If someone works the night shift they are not considered lazy. But if you work from home and schedule your work during night shift hours and you sleep during the day and spend time with your family before they go to bed everyone thinks your lazy. I don't understand this.

I don't get it, either!

I don't get it, either! But...that's a thing in many people's minds. I think we have to develop a thicker skin about that kind of judgment, or at least I do. Because it truly doesn't make a lot of sense.

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