Oh, the joys of working from home. It’s Sunday afternoon and I just sent an email to a client. Fail! I’ve been focusing on disciplining my work hours and yet, too often, the office calls to me on evenings and weekends. Does this happen to you as well?
Our Books & Such founder and president, Janet Kobobel Grant, encourages us to work hard during those hours we’ve committed to work and save the others for rest and play. She believes that the balance will show in our work. I agree with her but all too often I backslide.
I’ve either found myself working from home or my studio for most of my career. When I was actively raising our children, I made a promise not to have them remember me with my back toward them plugging away on the computer. I often wrote or worked after they had gone to bed. When my job was sculpting and design, I always made sure to have a chair next to mine at the work table so the kids could come out and chat away. Or just play with clay alongside me. I certainly didn’t do a perfect job of striking that balance but I was mindful of the importance of trying.
So what are the working at home disciplines I’m now trying to practice?
- I like to have a familiar rhythm to the work week. On Mondays, I don’t schedule meetings if I can avoid it. I save that day for reading client work, which is one of the most time consuming (and enjoyable) jobs literary agents have. And I’m always behind, no matter how hard I try.
- I try to schedule Zoom meetings and calls for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I know I need to spiff up a little on those days. In between meetings I do much of the paperwork that’s a big part of my job.
- Thursday I reserve for deep work, drilling down on proposals and getting those submitted.
- Friday morning is our weekly staff meeting– an important time in the life of our agency. We share about our goals, our achievements that week, we talk about the trials and triumphs of our clients, and we discuss issues that affect our industry and may affect our clients. We make plans for client webinars and possible retreats. But, of course, we are dear friends as well as colleagues so we share about our lives and laugh (and sometimes cry) together. We often follow up with a book discussion, working our way through a business book week by week. When that meeting wraps up it’s time to mop up the hanging jobs, clean the office and shut things down for the weekend.
- Once a quarter, I have a “mind-clearing” exercise scheduled for Friday afternoon. I take a piece of paper and just write down every thing, big or little, that’s been taking up space in my brain. Getting it out on paper and scheduling follow-up is a great discipline.
That’s how it’s supposed to work.That’s how I could work at peak performance, but, well, the best laid plans. . . Like last week. I was scheduled to take the week off. So how did that work out? I’ve never worked so hard. I had one emergency or time-sensitive thing after another. It was a good week but nothing like I had planned.
So if your agent doesn’t answer your Friday evening email until Monday morning, just smile and realize she’s probably got a good handle on work/life balance. and that will make her more productive and creative in the long rum.
How about you? How do you balance life, family, work, community, friends and everything else you are called to juggle?