Now that everybody’s working from home, there’s been a rash of articles by people who’ve been doing it for years, telling everyone how to do it.

I wrote this article a year or two back when I’d just come back from holiday – remember those? – and whilst it’s not exactly a how-to, it’s as close as I’m going to get. Working from home means you get to make it work for you. That’s my take.

How to make work work for you

I recently came across this article (which is excellent, go and read it and then come back), which rang a bell with me.

So I thought I’d use this blog to answer a question I always get asked a few times in late July – “You’re going away for three weeks? Don’t you run your own business?”

Now there are several answers to this:

  1. Yep. August is quiet in recruitment, see you in September. OR
  2. Yep. It’s my business so that means I’ll keep things going while I’m away but I have the flexibility. OR
  3. Yep. Running your own business is so stressful I just need a long break.

Only the first two are true, by the way. The reality is that running your own business brings you to the very pointy end of the debate about work life balance. Like the author of the article above, my life just isn’t compartmentalised in any way. I have work, kids, church, friends, family – all just on top of each other. So I might well take half an hour at 10am one weekday morning to go to a school assembly and be proud of my kids doing whatever it is. That’s a privilege, I know. But then I equally might be in the car with my family when the important call I’ve been waiting for all day comes in. The kids know to pipe down while I take the call – every part of my life just bleeds into the other.

So yeah, I’ll go away for three weeks – and I’ll do some work while I’m away. Unlike when I was working for someone else, I don’t feel bad about that – my customers are my customers and ultimately it’s my call what I do or don’t do. So my holiday probably looks more worky than some. But then my work probably looks more holiday-y than some too.

I’ve negotiated deals in the car park of Hampton Court Palace, on a ferry just outside St Malo, and once (memorably) two thirds of the way up Coniston Old Man (wouldn’t recommend that one, very poor data). I take what probably amounts to a lot of holiday but I expect to spend my evenings working to keep things rolling. I personally think I have fantastic work life balance but only because I’ve realised that work is part of my life – it doesn’t have to be sectioned off from everything else, it just has to be shuffled in and made to fit.

I think my customers are happy (they say they are). Same for my family (my wife says so anyway).

I don’t suppose it would work for everyone but then that’s not my point. My point is, work out what does work for you and run with that. So often the work/life balance thing ends up either making work an ogre that must be tamed or a means of achieving happiness. It’s realistically not either of those things. It’s something you have to do, something you hopefully enjoy, and ultimately part of who you are. Work out how to make it work for you, and go for it.

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