Are You Blurring the Line between Work and Play?
Photo courtesy of Lena Vasiljeva.

Are You Blurring the Line between Work and Play?

Written by Bev Webb

Topics: Multipotentialite Patterns

This one is for the self-employed multipotentialites.

Have you found that the line between your personal and business passions is so blurred that it’s pretty much non-existent most of the time? With a job you get to “go to work” and then “come home” from work and leave that part of yourself behind at the end of the day. When you work for yourself, the dividing line between the two can be much more fuzzy.

As a personal experiment, I set out to find out whether it’s okay to blur the boundaries, or whether we need some degree of separation between work and play.

Workaholism or Lifestyle Choice?

Part of the freedom that comes with being a solopreneur is being able to pick and choose your own schedule and work the “office hours” that suit you. But how many of us find ourselves working on our businesses during the evenings and weekends, as well as during the working week?

The standard term for someone who works a lot is “workaholic.”This word is loaded with negative connotations. In fact, it makes working a lot sound like a disease – an addiction to working.

This term got me wondering. Is the term “workaholic” only applicable when you’re unhappy? If you’re a solopreneur who just enjoys what you do and therefore spend some of your leisure time working on your business, does the term still apply?

Time for a Little Experiment

I decided to separate my work from my play for a couple of weeks to see what would happen. I assigned different parts of my work and play to each day. For example, Tuesdays were my main writing days, Wednesdays were for research and business development, while Sundays were designated as days off.

How did it go? Well, it was pretty tough, to be honest. The hardest part was trying to keep things separate, as I hadn’t fully realised just how much I hop from business to leisure activity and back again throughout the day.

As for taking a whole day off, did I really manage to spend my Sunday drinking coffee and reading the Sunday papers? Nope, of course not. I blew that plan to smithereens by breakfast time, when I reverted to eating toast while working on some web design ideas in a notebook.

It might be down to a lack of discipline, force of habit, or indeed workaholism, but what I can tell you is that I was happy while I was doing this. Happy and in a state of flow, just me, the notebook, and some toast. Which is what really counts at the end of the day, isn’t it?

The “Blurring The Line” Health Check

How do you know if your work is integrated into your life in a healthy way? Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to find out.

1) How many hours are you really working?

Do you just have an unusual work pattern or are you seriously overdoing things and burning the candle at both ends? If you total up the number of hours you work in an average week and you’re way over 45-50, you’re probably working too hard.

2) Is it a choice or a necessity?

Lots of studies have shown that a lack of control is a root cause of emotional stress. It’s the straightforward difference between wanting to and having to. If you have to put in that many hours, it may be time to take a look at what changes you can make to regain control.

3) Are you enjoying it or feeling overwhelmed?

This is another great indicator. We’ve all heard that a little stress or pressure (like a deadline) can increase productivity, but tip that balance too far and the opposite becomes true. If you still feel like you’re surfing that wave rather than being pulled down by the undertow, the balance is right.

4) Is your work having an impact on other parts of your life?

When you partner rolls their eyes because you’re still working, the dishes and laundry have piled over your head, and you open the fridge door to find an empty void, maybe you have your answer! In this case, a lack of clean socks may actually be the deciding factor.

Over to you!

How blurred is your line between work and play? Does it cause you any problems or do you find the balance works well?

bevBev is an artist, creativity coach and founder of Kickass Creatives, a website offering practical support to frustrated creatives. She’s over 20 years of working in the arts: experimenting with everything from performing in a fire circus and managing a hiphop dance company, through to web consultancy and jewellery design. Bev is passionate about using her experience to enable others to fully develop (rather than hide) their multitude of talents too. Connect with her on Twitter @creativekickass.

13 Comments

  1. Christina says:

    Pretty coo! I was actually wondering about this lately. I seem to mix work and play a lot… and personal beliefs, and art, etc. I want to have a business that integrates every project I do, but it gets really blurry between what’s “business” and what isn’t at times. I’m not (yet) a successful entrepreneur… I’m just starting out. But I think that’s the toughest part because there’s so much to learn and a feeling of so much to do. Some friends couldn’t understand why I said I was too stressed when I’m living at home, working part time, not required to pay all of the bills, etc… But it wasn’t that I was stressed about having a “tough” life rather than the fact that I was overthinking and pushing the limits so much that I had less and less time to socialize with others and just have a good time. I often feel like to establish credibility I have to be “professional” all the time… But the other day I went out with a friend and we just played truth or dare at the mall and acted so silly but had an awesome time. Sometimes, it’s okay to let your hair down and set some time not to think about what to do next, but just enjoy the moment. Awesome post!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Christina
      Thanks for the great feedback – it’s definitely good to find the time to let your hair down! I totally agree that when the work/play line becomes really blurred we can kind of “forget” to make time for fun, socializing or just plain old chilling out. :)

  2. Nela says:

    I’m totally blurring the line.

    I monitor my computer time, but then again I’m on my smartphone often. I also usually start my design or illustration work on paper, which means I sometimes start sketching ideas while sitting in a coffee shop or on my balcony on the weekend.

    I’d like to separate work a bit so I can say “OK, I’ve done enough for today!”
    And sometimes I’d keep going when inspiration flows, to midnight if need be. But I wouldn’t want it to be a habit.

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hey Nela
      I wonder if the blurring is especially common when it comes to creativity or problem solving? You never know when an idea might appear – like you say, it’s often on the weekend or late at night, just when you least expect it! :)

  3. Keith Kehrer says:

    It’s not even blurred. They are on top of each other. I love to work and don’t feel real unless I am doing something.

    Keith

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Keith
      Yep, I can relate to that. Do you think it’s especially the case for artists, musicians, writers etc that work/play overlap so much? Rather than being a “job” it’s more of an identity or life style – it’s who you are, not just what you do. :)

      • Keith says:

        I think so. I love the work and always have some project in the works. It is who I am for sure Bev. There was never any question since I was small. If I didn’t that have that, I am sure what I would do. A life of crime? ;)

        Keith

  4. Natalie S says:

    This post is invaluable to me because I’m not *quite* self-employed but am working toward it right now. It’s really interesting trying to balance those high-leverage tasks and the nitty gritty of staying connected, organizing finances, etc. Thanks for this!

    • Bev Webb says:

      Hi Natalie
      Glad to be of help! Balance is definitely core to getting this to work – and keeping an eye out for the sneaky work-taking-over-life imbalance which can creep up behind you! :)

  5. Nikki says:

    This is great! I actually work a job 20-35 hours a week and I have been amalgamating all of my hobbies and interests into an online business in my free time. Thank you Emilie! :)

    I was wondering recently if maybe this was making me into a workaholic but I am SOOOO happy with the way I am spending my time. I still socialize. Plus, I am learning how to design my own website in the meantime which is something I have always wanted to do. Eventually, I want to be just self-employed but student loans must be paid! Maybe if I stopped enjoying what I was doing, I would exercise more self-control and have more play-time set apart.

  6. Bev Webb says:

    Hi Nikki
    You nailed it when you said you’re feeling “soooo happy”. When things are flowing well and you’re feeling good, it’s fine to roll with it – you’ve got the balance right. :)

  7. Katja says:

    Hi Bev,

    for me, I try to practice the “20-hour” model with my 3 jobs – So I guess I work around 60 hours a week, and that’s the way I like it.

    20 hours go into my “paid” work, which is taking care of (other peoples) horses that are housed on our farm, 20 hours go into my music business (practicing, rehearsing, gigs, and 20 hours go into my sewing business/online shop.

    It’s not a rigid rule, sometimes music comes first (like in September I have 2 gigs every weekend, so less time to sew), and when there are less gigs I try to stock up with my crafted goods or put some time into developing new products.

    So far this works really fine and I never feel overworked. Its a nice balance with physical and mental work, that may be another factor why it seems never too much.