Clocking Out

by | Feb 1, 2016

There is nothing more satisfying than clocking out after a long day at work. It’s a fairly routine thing for offices to encourage everyone to leave between 5pm and 7pm, depending on the type of office. Watching the clock count down to the end of the day seems to take hours longer than it did yesterday. The simple satisfaction of getting your things and heading to the exit is a thrill I don’t often have anymore. Many freelancers don’t end their days at 5pm. Though maybe we should.

Work Knows Nothing of Time

As a freelancer, I often work from home. My goal is to one day rent a small office space where I can go and use it for nothing but work. Until that day comes, my home office does the job just fine. What happens is there is no clear definition of when I’m working or when I’m not. I always track my hours but when I’m taking a break, I look around and I’m at home. Mentally, I’m in home time. Are there dishes that need to be done? Is the laundry put away? Does the dog need to go for a walk? It’s taken some discipline, but I’ve managed to avoid getting swallowed up by house-hold chores while stepping away from the computer. Projects that allow me more flex time to complete can be put on hold until I have the right wave of inspiration. That wave often comes either in the early morning or the early evening. The middle of the day is the slump time, and often I’m not making my most creative work then. Setting hours of what time is work time vs. not work time were slowly forgotten over the last few months. I catch myself checking emails at 10pm or later on nights I have to get up early the next day. Or making that one last tweak to a logo before sending it off after midnight. At my home office, it’s near chaos to how I operate my projects. Everything gets done, but it’s like a winding back country road, going up a mountain, in the snow, and you’re low on gas.

Setting Your Hours

Some freelancers work best working within the normal 9-5 time range of weekdays. That’s great if you can stick with it. I’ve conceded that I have broken my own rules and worked on projects well after I should have stopped for the day. Emails and other forms of contact¬†with clients happen during the normal work hours of typical businesses. I have to consider what my clients’ time schedule and when they’re most likely to respond to my messages or calls. Most of them have offices but they have access to their business email all the time. Unless it’s an emergency, I wait till 8am to send emails. As we’re still in January and resolutions are still pretty fresh for 2016, I’m setting my clock out time to 9pm. Any emails that come after then will still be in my inbox in the morning. I might check it one last time before bed, especially if a project just left for the printers. There’s no way of knowing what might go wrong there.

This might be a complete failure. In fact, I’m writing this blog at 10pm. I would have to count blogging as a violation to the clock out rule as it relates to work. But then again, when inspiration strikes you cannot let is pass you by.