Clients Not Respecting Your Time? Sorry. That’s Your Fault

couple arguing over overtime

A dramatic reenactment of my marriage, by a woman way cuter than me, and a man not nearly as cute as my husband.

My husband and I are incredibly different people. I’m an antisocial introvert; he’s a social butterfly. I love fresh eggplant and tomatoes; he loves Slim Jims and energy drinks. I love cheesy dance music; he loves slacker rock. One thing we do have in common? We’re both ambitious workaholics.

What this means is that we often put our work before our relationship, and that’s a dangerous thing. I’m always working through the weekend, loath to do dinner with his family or go on day-long outings. I have a neverending to-do list, and leaving work behind for an exercise class or friendly happy hour makes me anxious. I also hate low-key, “relaxing” vacations. If I’m not doing something action-packed or hands-on, I’d rather be spending my time being productive.

Michael, meanwhile, is one of those insufferably rude smartphone addicts. He checks his e-mail and answers texts and phone calls when we’re out to dinner together… when we’re watching TV together… when we have company over. He lets both his employer and his clients walk all over him, responding to messages immediately, and working in his off hours (without additional pay). One time, while on a weekend trip in celebration of our three-year anniversary, he popped open his laptop and started doing some work for his full-time employer. Despite the fact that he had taken a vacation day. Despite the fact that he was supposed to be celebrating with me. I was livid.

Because — while I do find it difficult to step away — I force myself to do it way more than he does, for the sake of our relationship, and for the sake of my sanity. I don’t want to be perpetually connected. I don’t want to be held captive by my clients’ every whim (though I do all that I can to take care of them during my working hours). I want a healthy work/life balance, and I want my family to come first.

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Coffee Break: Working 9 to 5

I’ve been freelancing full time for about two years now and, since leaving book publishing, my lifestyle has changed quite a bit:

I’ve felt healthier, probably because I no longer construct entire meals out of vending machine snacks, and because I take the time to work out several times a week. (Not only that, but I’m avoiding the petri dish that is the corporate office.)  [Read more…]

Going Unplugged: Impossible?


Earlier this week, one of the members of UPOD challenged all of us to give up our three greatest online addictions for an entire week. While the prospect intrigued me, I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible for me to do.

My three online addictions? Gmail (and the accompanying gchat), Google Reader, and Twitter. The thing is, I often use gchat to communicate with my team of MM bloggers; the scouring of other products blogs through my Google Reader is a necessity for my work; and, aside from using my Twitter account to promote my own work, I’ve also been tasked with managing MM’s Twitter account.

While I may occasionally have dreams of unplugging (very occasionally), my career is inextricably intertwined with the Internets.

And besides, wouldn’t it be more productive to just figure out how to manage my online time more effectively?

After the jump, several tips for doing just that:

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Since You’ll Be Home All Day…

Just the other day, I read a post over at All Freelance Writing on the misconceptions people can have about the freelance life.

Among these was the lack of respect people in our lives can often have for our work hours.

It hit a chord with me as, just the other week, my husband had chewed me out for not taking out the garbage that day. “You were home all day!” he said.

It was true. I had been home all day but, in all that time, I had barely even left my computer, as I had multiple projects on my plate, and not a moment to spare. His presumptuousness made me angry, and I stewed over all the other times him or my mother had asked me to pick up stamps,  or run to the supermarket, or do the laundry…all with the assumption that I now had the time to spare, because my commute merely consisted of the walk from the bedroom to the computer room, and I had no one to answer to but myself.

Little did they know that I was a tougher taskmaster than any of my previous bosses had been, and it was because I had to be if I wanted to stay afloat. Unfortunately, it’s tough to change the misconceptions of non-freelancers, but we can at least attempt to do so by setting limits:

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