Spill It: Are You Working Through the Long Weekend?

Michael and I were supposed to travel up to Vermont this weekend for an incredible Labor Day Food, Wine, & Rejuvenation retreat. There were going to be daily fitness classes. Kayaking. A field trip to the Green Mountain Sugar Shack. Hot tubbing. A fire pit. A folk and blues festival. Food and wine pairings. Lots of other things. OH MY GOD IT WAS GOING TO BE INCREDIBLE.

Then, Hurricane Irene happened, and Vermont was hit pretty damn hard. The retreat, understandably, was canceled.

My yoga instructor told me I have to find a fun replacement for those canceled plans.

But here’s the thing.

Most of the time, I’d rather be working than doing anything else. [Read more…]

Spill It: Do You Work When On Vacation?

I am at this very moment squeezed into a Prius with my husband, my brother, and my parents, hurtling toward my cousin’s wedding in South Carolina. Wheee!

We left early yesterday morning, spent the night in a cheap hotel, and will finally reach our destination later today. I’ll be returning either late Sunday or midday Monday. Obviously, I am freaking the eff out about my to-do list.

I would typically lug my laptop along with me. I even got work done on my honeymoon, for god’s sakes! But I’m trying something new this time. It’s called: not working when you’re not at work. It is hard.

Of course, I’ll be able to check my email on my phone but, beyond that, I’m trying to control myself. We’ll see if I have a nervous breakdown.

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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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The Benefits of Working the Off-Hours

[Photo via]

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?

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Link Love – December 18, 2009

Hey there guys! Before I give you your link love for the week, I’d like to indulge in a little bit of self-promotion. I’m thrilled and honored to report that Brazen Careerist has named me as one of the nominees in their Top 50 Blog Posts of 2009/Blogger of the Year contest! There are a lot of great writers on the list, and it feels pretty darn good to be among them. If you find me worthy of top honors, however, I’d appreciate your vote! Instructions — and a link to the other nominees — are at the link above but, really, all you have to do is tweet the following:

I’m voting for @stephauteri’s post in the #Brazen Careerist #BestOf 2009 contest: http://bit.ly/UaRsw

Hashtags, URL, and all. (That link, by the way, leads to my winning blog post.) I’d appreciate any Twitter love you can give me! (Plus, your votes enter you for a chance to win a Starbucks gift card. Coffee = Major Win.)

And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… [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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Coffee Break: The Perfect Getaway?

My husband and I are completely incompatible…when it comes to vacations.

He’s content to relax for hours on the beach, or stare at the walruses with the rest of the tourists. I’m antsy and on-the-go, and am always eager for hands-on-type activities (ahem…hands-on also includes shopping…).

On our honeymoon, I teased my husband over the fact that he brought his laptop along. By the second or third day, I was on it all the time, doing work-related research and sending IM SOSs to my friends.

After going through some of the sites in the resource section of My So-Called Freelance Life, a phrase leapt out at me, and I had an epiphany.

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How To Give Yourself a Sweet Benefits Package

Happy Labor Day everyone! I hope you’re all indulging in bbqs and taking final trips down the shore and generally NOT WORKING. Because you deserve this holiday! Me? In addition to my at-home work, I travel into NY three days a week for five-hour shifts proofing at a newspaper, and today is no different. When my boss offered to give me today off, I told him I would be fine with coming in. Why?

  1. I’m an idiot.
  2. When you’re a freelancer, there’s no such thing as a paid vacation day.

Many of us leave our full-time jobs and become our own bosses in order to give ourselves the flexibility to sleep in, take more time off, and not work overtime. Yet when we go into business for ourselves, we often end up working longer hours than ever before, because there’s no one around to tell us: “Go home!” After the jump, the 5 benefits you shouldn’t forget to provide for yourself:

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