Work Isn’t Everything

I start out the day blogging…searching for new products, combing through stock photography, attempting to be clever despite the fact that I haven’t yet had my morning coffee, and I’m still wearing my Cookie Monster pants. I break for lunch and then work on Freelancedom other  (paying) freelance projects. By the time my husband arrives home from work, I’m wiped out, but I’m still scanning my Google Reader and stockpiling posts. No matter. Now that he’s not at the office, he can work on freelance web design projects, complete homework for his online courses, and fiddle with his own personal projects. When will we spent time together? Saturday? Maybe?

Forget remembering to take a vacation. It’s enough of a struggle just to remember those day-to-day priorities. What should you make sure to put at the top of your to-do list?


It’s tough to remember to pour my Rice Kirispies With Real Strawberries every morning, especially when I’m trying to get at least five blog posts in before the afternoon. And once lunch comes…well…it’s usually a very late lunch. As for dinner, who has time for that when you’re both still working?

Not cool, guys. When I first left my full-time job, I was interning at Nerve, working night shifts at the New York Sun, and taking on additional projects on the side. I stopped exercising, and the bulk of my meals came from a vending machine (coffee was also a huge part of my life, used as a means to stave off the hunger). I quickly gained 25 pounds and now, though I’ve started cooking meals again, and have started walking and hooping regularly, it’s proved impossible to get those pounds off. And let’s not even talk about the low energy levels and irritability I was experiencing.

When you “risk it all” to start your own, at-home business, you’re not supposed to be risking your health as well. Remember to eat all three main meals. And string cheese doesn’t count as a meal.


I’ve posted several times about making sure to wake up in the morning, as if you were headed out to a typical office job (here and here), but this rule was made under the assumption that you’re getting to bed at a decent hour. When I first started working from home (around the same time that the hubby’s web design business really started picking up), the two of us would end up at our computers late into the night, back to back, unwilling to turn off the lights before absolutely everything was complete.

I’ve recently started instituting an 11 p.m. curfew, which is still a ridiculous hour to be working at, but it helps. We’ve also discussed scheduling which days we would work past normal business hours, as a means to allow more time for each other, let alone sleep.

How many hours do you need in order to function properly? I need 9. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Making sure I get my optimal amount ensures that the work I do once I wake up is of a higher quality.


This means allowing for Me Time. For me, that means taking my lunch break in front of the TV. Or spending a few evenings a week relaxing with a book or magazine. Or fitting in my daily walks and sporthooping. Or going out on a date, or a girls’ night out. Didn’t we all leave our jobs in order to create the career that would fir into our ideal lifestyle? How did we end up as bigger taskmasters than our former psychotic bosses!? Type of a list of the things you would do if only you had the time. Then, for the love of god, make time for it.

I suppose this means I should finally bite the bullet and go hang gliding.


Just as important (I suppose) as Me Time is the time you set aside for your friends and family. For example, I hoop every evening with my mom (yes, we hula hoop in her backyard together; people probably think we’re nuts), and do evening walks and weekly date nights with my husband. Couple Nights are harder to come by, but we try! I swear! If you’re always busy when your loved ones call, eventually, one-by-one, they’ll drop out of your life. Without your even noticing it. God, don’t make me tear up.

What have you been struggling with fitting into your schedule?


  1. Steph, I hear ya! Sometimes this freelance thing can feel all-consuming. I’m especially bad about sleep, because around 10:30 or 11pm, I get this uncontrollable urge to market myself like a madwoman!! Suddenly I think “I have a sliver of time on my calendar – I better email people and fill it up with more work.” I used to set a bedtime and then beat myself up when I didn’t follow it.

    Now I’m trying to opposite approach: telling myself I can work as late as I want (after, that’s the beauty of freelancin) and hoping that will alleviate the sense of urgency to send just one more email, write one more post, etc.

    I can be a little tyrannical at times, but I’d rather boss myself around than have someone else do it.

  2. @Susan: That last line of yours is oh-so-true. As hard as I am on myself, it’s a lot better than working my butt off for someone else, on something that doesn’t excite me. Most of the times I overwork are due to pure, impatient excitement over what I’m working on!

  3. Just discovered your blog via The Urban Muse, and I really like it. Added it to my reader! As a newcomer to freelance translating (I just left the corporate e-commerce translation world), I am loving the freedom. So far, I have made time to work out (pretty much every day) and to eat, but I do work a lot harder than I used to. However, I choose to, and I don’t have to if I don’t want to. It really does make all the difference! I am very Germanic with my work ethic (and well, I really am Austrian), so I do have a tendency to work too late, but I love it anyway. I am so thrilled with all the different projects I am working on, and I am learning so much every day — it’s hard not to be excited in the morning. And of course, given the current economic situation, work is good.

  4. @Judy: Welcome to the freelance world! It’s such a huge step to take, and I love meeting others who have made that same leap.It sounds as if you’re leading an admirably balanced life. If only I could practice what I preach. 🙂 (I try! I swear!)

  5. the comments here are having a laugh – i’ve added your blog to my netvibes account, keep up the good work 🙂


  1. […] writing blogs, The Urban Muse, suggested reading Steph Auteri at Freelancedom’s great post about balancing life with work, and I don’t think I could do a better job explaining it. Go ahead and read it, I’ll […]

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