Reclaim My Time

In the blink of an eye, it is July.

I sit here and type on my new lappertopper which does not have Facebook. It does not have email. There is nothing business related on this computer. It purely has a web browser, discord for chatting with friends and for gaming, and a few of the games I like to play.

Next to me is my new phone which has a new personal phone number. Only three people in the world have that phone number – my parents and The Other Half. Again there is no Facebook, no email, nothing business related.

The old laptop is now the work laptop. It is locked in the work safe with the work phone and the work tablet. This is the path forward. This is the way to reclaim my time, but this did not happen overnight.

This is a process I began back in April when I made a decision to purchase a new phone as my current phone was starting to have less battery life. At that time, I decided to get a new sim card for the new phone and use the old phone – which was still functional – for the business.

I got the new phone but I had to wait for a case, the screen protector and other accessories. The new phone stayed in the box. I had no idea what was coming, but I personally hate change so I kinda sorta put it off for a bit. One day it was time. The only thing I installed on the new phone was discord and a game I like to play called Egg, Inc.

When 6pm arrived, I would shut the work phone in the safe. I’d still be accessible to people via the laptop in the evenings until I shut it down and went to bed – but when I went to bed I took only the personal phone. When I woke up in the morning I was not greeted by work messages and work Facebook and work emails. It was the best feeling!

I enjoyed this feeling of freedom. Of being able to *choose* my work start time. When I turned on the laptop I could choose not to open the email and not to open Facebook – if I wanted. I could have breakfast and enjoy my morning coffee in peace without trying to answer the myriad of messages and emails people sent me overnight.

top view of a person holding a cup of coffee on a wooden surface
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on

You know most people get in the car and go to work and start at a certain time. I used to do that exact same thing. Why did I think now that I wasn’t entitled to my own personal morning routine, just because I have my own business? Why did I think I wasn’t entitled to evenings? To my own personal space? Even shower time was me mentally putting the trains on the tracks ready for a day of work.

So it was very clear to me what the next step of this process was – the business needed a laptop. Work needed to be done purely in the studio. I needed to commute there from the recliner after finishing my coffee and have a set start time – and a set finish time.

A new laptop was purchased and this time, I did not waste any time setting it up. I could see freedom just on the horizon there, it felt like I could reach out and touch it. That first night when I locked it in the safe, and went to my laptop which now had nothing work related on it – no Facebook, no emails, no spreadsheets, just Discord, games, my personal browser.. that was an awesome day. And a bit of a scary day at the same time.

To begin with, I really just needed some time off. I needed to zone out, to watch television, to read books, to just *be* – oftentimes the first thing I would do when I closed the studio would be to sit and stare into space while my mind mentally parked all the trains of the day.

I’d been working all the hours of the all days since July 2019. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Yes, even Christmas Day. If someone messaged me, I usually replied right back. You don’t realise how that constant interruption steers your trains off their tracks until it stops. Constantly being switched on and in business mode, you can do that for a certain amount of time but eventually you do start to burn out.

The Other Half and I played actual games together in the evenings. I watched entire episodes of television without a single message from anyone causing me to pause the show and go to check if something was in stock or track their package to see where it was or answer a question I’d already answered many many times that same day.

I started getting back into cooking dinners – for the most part since Covid began we’ve been supporting a local business by purchasing meals they would cook for us. We do still buy dinners from them but we’re starting to make our own meals a few nights a week.

It is unfortunate that the way Facebook is, you cannot have a personal Facebook and a business Facebook. I never get to read my feed anymore because it is on the work computer or phone and during those hours I am working. It is impossible to use my personal Facebook without seeing work messages, so I choose not to use it at all in my personal time and space.

I have always been reading your blogs but I rarely leave comments anymore. It is not you, it is me. I always want to comment, I often open up the form, but most of the time I find it hard to write the comment. I think there is still an element of brain burnout.

Similarly I do not know how many times I wanted to write a post here but would end up staring at a blank page. It is time now, though. I need to start doing the things I used to enjoy so much before this “hobby” business took over.

So you will be hearing more from me soon. :)

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8 thoughts on “Reclaim My Time

  1. It is SO good to see you here! I’ve been wondering how you were doing. I’m so glad you seem to be doing well. I always had an impossible time separating my work life from my personal life. Your solution is inspired. If I had a safe I would have locked my work phone in there, too! I hope you find it in you to write more now and tell us what else is going on in your life.

  2. It is something that many of us struggle with; I’m glad that you’re forging a work/life balance that is more in line with YOUR wishes. As the saying goes, “Life is too short.” We need to do what brings us pleasure while we can. Welcome back!

  3. I’m glad you’ve found a way to turn off at the end of the day. Although I don’t work, I shut down my phone and computer between 6:30 and 7 pm every single day. It can all wait until another day.

  4. You really were in a bad position but at least you’ve done something about it. It seems pretty obvious to keep the two separate to me, but then I’ve never done as you have done. I have two Facebook accounts. I don’t see why you cannot.

  5. I am very happy to hear from you and even happier that you are well and less stressed! You have set appropriate boundaries. My employer provides me with a laptop and cell phone which are for work use only. At the end of the work day I turn them both off and don’t check them until the next work day. I’m glad our workplace culture supports this.

  6. I think when you have your own business, you sort of have to devote all your time and energy to it. But eventually you need to reclaim your life. When I worked for myself, I had the sort of business I shut down at night. Once in a while I went in on a weekend to catch up on paperwork but that was more for the quiet of not having colleagues in and out of my office. But I can’t tell you how much I resented when i was on call. I need my own time and space and the idea of the on call system is valid but those are not the calls we really get. We get drunk people who want to rant at 3AM. Oh well, this is not the place for my own rant.

    I am glad to see you posting again. Congrats on reclaiming your life!

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