My husband runs a successful business so I was lucky to be able to stay at home. By the time I was 40, we had three kids under five. As every parent knows, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 became a distant memory; it was 24/7.
As they grew, I took on volunteer roles at the children’s school and became involved in community work, but once our youngest started school, I planned to return to work. But part-time jobs are hard to find, and finding a job that was actually appealing and had family-friendly hours, was impossible. As I have a passion for the written word, superior English skills and a natural ability to spot spelling and grammatical errors, it was a logical step for me to become a freelance proofreader and editor. I began studying and looking for freelance work on the Internet and from there, my business – and my experience – grew exponentially, all the while continuing to hone my skills through courses and workshops.
I’ve now been running Full Proofreading Services for 8½ years and have clients all over Australia, including writers, SMEs, NGOs, government departments and universities... which brings me to the point of this article. “Thank God,” I hear you say!
When I think about my 9 to 5 job of yore, I realise how easy I had it. This is a (very) rough example of what 8 hours of BILLABLE time looks like now:
8 to 10 (2 hours). 11 to 1 (2 hours). 2 to 4 (2 hours). 8 to 10 (2 hours). Total 8 hours.
Now, you might be wondering why these hours are so fractured. There are several good reasons for this:
- As every editor and proofreader knows, our line of work is extremely meticulous and requires 100% concentration. After two hours working on a manuscript or a long document, you start to flag and things can be missed. It’s a case of quality control.
- After two hours staring at a computer screen, your neck seizes up and your eyes start to sting. It’s necessary to take regular breaks for your health.
- Each day, I spend a good deal of time on NON-BILLABLE work, such as liaising with clients and contractors, invoicing, writing blog articles, answering enquiries, working out quotes, doing sample edits, reading articles, studying, filing… the list goes on.
- Having a busy family of five means several hours each day need to be put aside for domestic and parenting purposes (I could list all that this entails but this article is already too long).
- ‘Me’ time (aka mental health time). I used to classify sleep as ‘me time’; but my business mentor assured me this doesn’t count! I actually need do something for myself while I’m awake! So I walk the dog or go to the gym for an hour.
And, as life goes, my billable hours vary, are often longer than 40 hours per week, and usually spill into weekends (even holidays). I’ve learnt that if you’re not careful, your business can consume you, affecting your family and personal wellbeing. In short, working from home is challenging and hard. It takes discipline and flexibility and it’s a constant balancing act - especially if you have a family. Having said that, I wouldn’t go back to the Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 life for quids. Would you?