For me, the need to be efficient became important after having kids. Early on, I was determined to find the “perfect” work life balance. I was working 8+ hour days, 40 hours a week, splitting the time with raising two young kids. Instead of feeling successful at both, I remember feeling guilty, and always short on time. I questioned if I was spending enough “quality” time with my kids and husband. I worried about my career. I remember my work quality slipping, often when I needed to be creative, I couldn’t. I tried to be everything for everyone, burning a candle on both ends. I didn’t sleep nearly enough and was always tired. I began to forget things like deadlines, appointments and found myself always running late. What became apparent was something needed to change.
Thankful for my career as a graphic designer, I had the option to work from home as a freelancer. Choosing this path, while scary at first, allowed me the flexibility to find a better balance between my work and home life. I learned to give 100% to one, then switch to the other, giving 100% there. It’s about how we choose to use our time. And being in control of choosing how we use our time.
Since working from home, there’s a little secret I’ve learned… one doesn’t have to work an 8 hour day in an office, behind a desk, to be productive. In fact, I discovered I’m 10 x’s more productive working from home than working at 8 hour day in a corporate space. I get 8 hours of work completed in about 2-4 hours. What? When you eliminate all the distractions that come with the work place, like unnecessary meetings, constant interruptions, and chitchat, you can become more efficient. Do less in more time! Of course, one could argue there are more distractions at home like the TV, laundry and chores. But with a little self-discipline, and reducing home distractions like the cell phone, emails and social media, I can get a full days work in half the time. Which then leaves time to get the chores and home to do’s done as well. It’s my little work/life efficiently secret.
Furthermore, by working from home and removing a commute, I save 30-60 minutes a day. That’s up to 5 hours a week of extra (bonus) time to do as I please. Time for self care! For some people, it’s even more! I use the extra time to exercise and journal in the mornings. To be home when the kids leave and come home from school. I no longer have to rush home in 5 o’clock rush hour to pick up kids from daycare, scramble home to figure out dinner before the kids after-school activities and homework agenda starts. I have time now during the day to reflect and game plan.
I don’t always do this of course. We are all human. I’ve spent hours, for example, on this blog post, when I should be working on a logo. But, for me, it’s been the closest I’ve found to a work life balance that isn’t running me into an early grave. Think of how much we would save on pollution if more people worked form home a few days a week. I do have to confess, I am an introvert. I know this situation isn’t optimal for some personality types. I talk with others who are extroverted, and working from home is pure torture. It comes down to what fills your bucket. For some, it’s people time. For me, it’s having time for reflection and solitude. For for those like minded, over worked parents and creatives stuck in the rat race, this is an alternate work situation that has changed my life.
We are all given the same amount of time in our day. It’s what we choose to do with our time that makes all the difference. I believe in being efficient. And choose to spend my time on the things that really matter.