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Making time for real life

When your job starts to rule your life twenty/four seven its time to take a backseat and a real hard look at your world and your life.  Letting your design and website job rule your life completely is neither healthy nor clever. Quite often especially when we are working as freelancers, we tend to allow our clients needs overtake us completely.

It is very important to set some ground rules with clients. While if it is an emergency it is a different matter, and we pull out all stops to get a client’s website back up if for some remote reason it crashes, but by the same token, some clients tend to take advantage of the fact you are a freelancer and think they can contact you about trivial items at any hour. This needs to be discouraged with a firm word about work hours.

I once had a client arrive at my home at midnight with a trivial query.  The lights were out in the house, but it didn’t stop him from knocking until I woke up. I was not amused and I am afraid I showed it. This is not something that should have happened and since then I have made my place of business different from my home address. This is one of the problems that can arise when you work from home.

At some stage in your freelance career, you are going to find that you will have a client that not only expects the impossible but actually has no respect for the fact that you do have a life outside the life of a designer. Not being a respecter of other people unfortunately is something one will come across. This needs to be overcome from your side. If you are prepared to be a friend and a business associate both at the same time this can often happen especially when they come to expect you are always prepared to drop everything to help them. While this is a good way to treat a client it can also lead to abuse. Finding the happy medium isn’t always easy.

In this day of internet work people seem to expect that the freelancer is a large corporation of hundreds of people all ready to work right round the clock because they are on the internet. This is to a large extent our own fault as because we are freelancer, we need to keep ourselves in work to pay our bills, and so we have pushed the envelope and raised expectations without setting the rules. The work force out there is such that we know we are not indispensable but can be replaced by many others also clambering for work.

The result of this is we have tried to make ourselves indispensable and in doing so we have forgotten the rules of life: The need for relaxation away from the computer. We now have to claw back our life. Set ground rules and set office hours. Not the easiest thing to do. The dangers to one’s health if you don’t are too large to ignore.

Take a step back. Look at your life and the demands on your time and take back your weekends.

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