The Benefits of Working the Off-Hours

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It’s a few days before the new year, and I’m one of just four people in the office. It’s silent. Still. There is only the muffled sound of keyboards clacking, and the occasional clanging of my spoon against my mug when I stir some soy milk into yet another cup of coffee. Despite remnants of holiday-related exhaustion, I find myself getting a lot done. I enjoy the quiet hush in the air, and don’t mind the fact that I had to walk 15 freezing-cold blocks to get here. I’ve been spoiled by two years of working from home full-time, but there’s something about the complete lack of distractions that leaves me content.

It was the same over the weekend, in the days between Christmas and the final work week of 2009. Without any wild party plans, my husband and I worked through the weekend, him at a partner’s house and me in my bedroom. I did some stockpiling for YourTango, and completed my career coaching textbook and workbook. (I also vegged out in front of an NCIS DVD and read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, so don’t think that I didn’t get in my fair share of relaxing.)

It felt good. Because, for the past month, I had felt overwhelmed, struggling to get used to my new on-site schedule while still rushing to meet deadlines for already-existing clients. It was nice to finally be working when no one else was…with no one breathing down my neck.

What are my favorite things about working in the off-hours?

1. The Quiet.

This is especially relevant now that I work in an office where people regularly take phone calls, conduct meetings with the door open, and just chat away while I’m trying to make magic happen at my little laptop (though magic might be too strong a word, especially when I’m just typing up a brief on the latest celeb breakup).

Don’t get me wrong. The social aspect of working in an office is what I missed most when I went full-time freelance, and I took full advantage of that when I was still working in book publishing. (I was a regular social butterfly.) But did I get less done when I was at my most social? Yes. Yes I did. ::sigh::

2. The Slower Pace.

When everyone else is off, chances are there are less deadlines to meet, and less projects being thrown at you last second (projects that need to be done right now dammit). You can slow down. Work at your own pace for once. (My pace is glacial, when I can get away with it.) It’s such a luxury to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time, instead of frantically multitasking.

3. Less Pressure.

I swear to you. My new coworkers are the nicest, friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And my CEO is not at all terrifying. Still, when the higher-ups aren’t around, I tend to relax a little bit more. My shoulders don’t tense up as much. I don’t come home with crippling back pain due to the fact that I’m a crazy neurotic with constant anxiety surrounding the need to please everyone.

Maybe I should take more Xanax…

Related: Overworked, Underpaid, and Pretty Darn Happy, How-To: Work Through the Weekend, Coffee Break: Working on the Weekend


  1. This is great advice, and is why I get up at 5 AM most weekdays to work. I try to go web-free on the weekends for a little balance and sanity.

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