Monday, February 04, 2008

Deadline rebellion

With a major project due in two days, clients demanding I put their work first, and my new blog in need of some startup posts, I woke up Wednesday with a plan: take as much time as I could to do whatever the boys needed.

See, in the past, I've had a hard time with balance. I can get very focused on work when I have a deadline, to the point where I get snappish and frustrated with anything--or anyone--that distracts me. I've done that often enough with Hamlet to know I needed to try a different tack.

I played with him and Puck all morning. Even though I did have to knuckle down that afternoon, and even though Hamlet acted out because he didn't want me to work, I still feel as if I made a good start. Which is why, on Friday, I rebelled again: with one project complete, I could have gone on to the others. Instead I left the computer off, and spent the day with my boys.

I don't like to generalize and say "The work will always be there." This is true, but specific projects won't be. As a freelancer trying to make a living--not a hobbyist making a little extra spending money--I take my obligations to my clients as seriously as (okay, slightly less than) my obligations as a wife and mother. Anyone with customers and a boss feels the same way.

But it's also important for us to know when to back off. That's why finding family-friendly clients is so important. To be able to say, "I'm working on your project, but it might take some more time than I anticipated--my kids are sick (or clingy, or whatever)" is so critical to any freelance parent's success. I always feel a little weird telling those things to non-parent peers, as if they might think I'm using my kids as an excuse to avoid responsibility.

The fact is, those of us who work from home with kids--especially of the small variety--almost never get a chance to shirk responsibility. True, to rebel against our deadlines is a lot like playing hooky. But it's not like we're going off to the theater to watch movies all day, the mall to go shopping. Having fun with the kids is an investment in business--fun, yes, but also insurance against bad feelings and stress, the creativity-killers.

So, I slacked off work. We all needed it. And you know what? I'm still on schedule.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a good takeaway here, Christa--thank you. Figure out what your priorities are, and then trust the process. I need to try and do that myself.

6/2/08 9:16 PM  

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