Wookey HoleOne of the benefits of being your own boss is the extra freedom that you are rewarded with. If a friend calls me up, out of the blue, and asks what I am doing tomorrow the chances are I can rearrange my day to meet up if only for a short while.

When working the normal 9–5 I was even concerned about asking for time off to go to the doctors. I would never have dared to ask for a couple of hours off to visit a friend, who maybe only comes back this way once a year and is only in town for one afternoon, even if I could have easily made that time back up…

To make things even worse evenings used to feel so precious, as a time to unwind from a hard days work, that even if the friend offered to meet up that evening instead I would sometimes have to refuse. This feels like such a shame and I felt that slowly over the years I have lost contact with a few of my friends due to the lack of free time I had.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if your time was yours to control…

Pros

Another great example of the benefits of freedom over time is the ability to appreciate what you are doing. Spending time in the moment…

Over the last few months I have been able to spend a lot more time with the grandkids. The best part is that I am not hung up on what I should be doing. I can now drop what I am doing and spend time actually with them, rather than just watching them while my mind is still at my computer, which is what I used to be like.

OK so lets look at a few of the plus points of being in control of your own time:

  • You can become much more flexible which should allow you to keep in contact with anyone you want, even at the drop of a hat if necessary.
  • You can spend more time with family and friends.
  • If a crisis arises you can easily find the time to deal with it.
  • If there is a job you have been putting off because you just haven’t found the time to do it. Well that shouldn’t be so much of an issue anymore but it does depend on the number of jobs you have left like this!
  • If your mind won’t stop wandering to some other task you would rather be doing, then why not switch to that other task. This may be beneficial in the long run than trying force yourself to continue at whatever you are currently working on where you are likely to be very unproductive.

Cons

Now I am not suggesting that everyone gives up work and just does what they want, whenever they want. I am still trying to get the balance right and I am not convinced that I am quite there yet so this is a way for me to express my views on the subject and hopefully gain a bit of clarity at the same time.

Here is a list of some of the downsides to having too much freedom:

  • Too many distractions can lead to little work getting done. You need to find some time to stay focused on the important tasks at hand.
  • Not setting strict working hours can lead to less time actually spent working. There are always going to be some interruptions, which is fine, but that time needs to be made up somewhere. The tendency is to still stop at the same time every day even though you may have spent a couple of hours doing something else during the day.
  • Something that you don’t really want to do will never get done. If there is a job that you don’t really fancy then you are likely to start thinking about something else which will make it hard to keep focused on the task in front of you. There comes a time when a job must be done even if it is hard to keep your mind on it.
  • Don’t try and get every odd job done and out of the way. Just because you can find the time doesn’t mean to say you should. Even as you complete each task there will always find more things to add to the list. Just tackle the ones you feel are important at any given time.
  • Too much time off makes it hard to get back into the working mentality.

Where To Begin

I think it is important to at least make your free time actually free. Most people extend their working hours long beyond the actual 9–5. This can happen in many different way, the most obvious being commuting. If you take half an hour to get to work your 8 hour day instantly becomes 9 hours long.

You may get an hour for lunch but how often do you actually take advantage of it? Do you spend it at your desk with some sandwiches you spent time preparing before work. I’m guessing about another half an hour for that.

What about answering the phone or replying to emails about work related problems after hours. This may not happen every day but, depending on what you do, I bet it does happen every now and a again. Just for kicks let’s add an extra half an hour for that too.

So the 7 hours you are actually getting paid for are suddenly taking 10 hours of your time! And that’s without the mention of overtime…

No wonder evenings and weekends are so precious!

Try and make sure your free time is free. Take advantage of your lunch break. When you have finished for the day turn your phone off if you don’t want to be disturbed or simply don’t answer it if it is about work.

Image: Pete O’Shea

1 comment

Shirl

Very interesting read I some times wish that I had done this before you but without your knowledge I would have just wasted my days,Love the mention of the kids.

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