The Work-Work Balance: 70 Hours in 7 Days

In Why I Choose to be UnderemployedI talked about my decision to pick a job that even my employer believed was “beneath” me. He was of the opinion that I should use my educational qualifications and prior work experience to land something in corporate.

In spite of shock and downright discouragement from many close to me, I stuck with my decision. My reasons were simple, and can be summed up in a quote from that article:

If I give 40 hours or more per week to build someone else’s company, and someone else’s dream, what will I be left with to build my own?

Bliss

Since then, my career path took some interesting turns. For starters, a few weeks into my job, the supervisors and the director on site offered me a 40-hour shift.

It had just become vacant and no-one wanted it. But they knew it would be perfect for me if they made a few compromises to entice me into it. So now, I do work a 40-hour shift in three days, and have four days off to do as I please.

That’s four days off to laze about and do nothing. Four days off to take short trips out of town without needing to touch my vacation time. Or four days off to work on my business.

Usually I manage a good combination of all of the above, since I’m allowed to bring my laptop to work and do PR assignments in my downtime.

The added bonus of hitting 40 hours per week in a regular job is that I no longer need to pay myself from my PR work anymore. So after launching Alexis Chateau PR in November of 2016, I’ve put the money right back into the business. I haven’t taken a cent for myself. I don’t need to.

The Struggle

No matter how we spend it though, working 70 hours per week is no walk in the park. It takes discipline to make it through those 40 hours stuffed into three days, and a driving passion to want to work for another 30 during the week.

And there are cons. My 3 work days fall on the weekends, so I’m usually free when everyone else is stuck at work. Thankfully, my family and many of my friends have flexible schedules like me, so in practice that isn’t really true.

The next downside is that on Monday I usually crash and burn like a space ship that ran out of fuel on the way back to Earth. Hello gravity! But again, this isn’t entirely true. I’m usually at my desk by 4PM pounding away at the keys on and off throughout the evening and night, until as late as 10AM the next morning.

What can I say? There is no cure for workaholism…

How I Pull It Off

So knowing that I work 70 hours in 7 days, and why, the obvious question I often get is how I pull it off.

Let me begin by saying that this is definitely not a lifestyle for everyone, but if you have a business you want to invest in, then finding a job that requires very little of you is probably a great place to start.

Scheduling Sleep

Not surprisingly, stuffing 40 hours into 3 days does not leave a lot of time for sleep between shifts. I combat this by having a pretty rigid sleep schedule.

I know exactly what time I should be home and in bed. What time to get up, and shower, be dressed and in the car, or waiting on the train. I have it all down to a science, and have alarms set up on my phone so I never have to stop and think and wonder:

What do I do now?

When you’ve just completed a 16 hour shift on 5 hours sleep and have another 16 hours ahead of you to look forward to, thinking isn’t something you should trust yourself to do.

Meal Preps

I make all my meals for my 5 shifts, a day or two before the first one starts. I buy all the ingredients and spend about two or three hours slaving away at the stove to make every last meal for the weekend – start to finish.

I have my appetizers, main course, and dessert. I also buy sodas and nutritional shakes in bulk so I never have to worry about drinks either. That saves me a lot of time and money at work, and when I’m at home in-between my shifts.

TV dinners come in pretty handy for those days when I just don’t feel like cooking 5 meals in one go; and when I get hungry before my shift starts and need to eat.

Mobile Devices

In my home office, I have double-monitors, a beast of a PC, a nice big desk, and everything else I need to be as productive as possible. When I leave home, even when heading to my job, I pack a mobile and miniature version of my office into a bag and take it with me.

So what tags along? Usually I bring a notebook and pen, my laptop, my tablet, and my smartphone. The smartphone also doubles as a hot spot. This is important since I can’t always find open WiFi everywhere I go – even at work. It’s a pretty big building.

I also recently added a BlackBerry Passport to the mix as a business phone. It has the legendary physical QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry has always been known for, and a nice display.

Much as I love my Samsung Note 4 with its larger display and stylus, as a writer it’s beyond annoying to edit 1000+ word documents on a touch screen device.

It’s also really hard to take time off when your clients’ social media pages are all wrapped up with your own. If I sign into Instagram, for instance, I can count on getting not just my notifications but everyone else’s.

That brings me to my next point…

Time Off

To be honest, I never take a day off. There is always work to do and I get anxious at the thought of leaving emails unchecked and websites unsupervised for too long. However, I do take time off.

I take several hours off in those four days to travel, play video games, watch British TV shows, play with my kitten, go hiking, work out at the gym, do (read: suck at) yoga, and spend time with the people I love.

Without time off, I would definitely hit my limit and start suffering from burnout. It helps that I make my own hours and work with clients that have always been very flexible about time, as long as we don’t have deadlines approaching.

Low Maintenance Pets

If you’re an animal lover, spending up to 16 hours away from home at a time isn’t really conducive to owning pets. Even with a spouse or parents to chip in, it can put a damper on things.

My solution was to get a cat. A cat never has to be let out, and doesn’t require attention the way dogs do. Like me, they are pretty well self-entertained and typically enjoy their own company for long enough before they seek out affection.

As an added bonus, when cats become bored or anxious they don’t turn to destructive habits. So you never have to worry about them chewing up your shoes, or making a meal of the furniture.

Other low maintenance animals include snakes, fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, turtles, and rats.

Luck

You don’t choose luck. Luck finds you. Even so, without luck I probably wouldn’t be able to pull this off as easily as I do. I’m glad to have been in the right place at the right time, and to have made the right connections to be offered the opportunities I now have.

I’m also happy no one else miraculously wanted to stuff their shift into three days so they could have the rest of the week off. Imagine what I would miss out on!

Have you ever had to balance two different jobs or professions before? Or tried to run a business while working for someone else? How did you make it work for you?

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70 Comments Add yours

  1. I can relate. I work from 7 am to 8 pm. And I don’t mind it, I’m a workaholic. But the only thing I need to get better at is fitting writing in. But yeah when you are organized you can achieve phenomenal things.

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    1. Wow! That’s quite a bit of work. What’s your job?

      Like

      1. I’m a teacher. So work at a primary school durng the day and then in the afternoon I teach other courses.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s quite a bit of work. I hope that’s not every day. Don’t be terrible to yourself like me.

        Like

      3. I think I am. I don’t mind it though. I just have to get better at finding the time to things I like.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I love my job. It was my hobby before I started to make a living from it. So I have a hard time drawing the line.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! In currently a Regional Fundraiser and Reverend, not quite putting in a 70 hour week (!!!) but understand the juggling act

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I actually hit 90 hours very often, 87 last week. But 70 hours is my absolute minimum.

      Your life sounds like quite the juggling act too. Anything in finance and fundraising is usually a headache.

      Like

  3. Great post! I found you can do huge hours for a couple of years straight and when you have a definite goal to work to, which makes you very driven. You do need to take time out as it’s too easy to suffer burnout and slump into a huge heap from exhaustion.
    Many thanks for stopping by and following my Travel and Photography blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thank you! Everyone tells me I need to find a better balance with my time. But I feel pretty balanced haha. My work is what I used to do as a hobby, so it’s pretty hard to get burned out on that. Or maybe I’m just an workaholic making excuses…

      Thanks for dropping by, and you’re welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is hard. I find I have less time now than when I was working.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do you love what you do?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Travel, taking photos, and writing? Absolutely 😉
        I’m building another WP site to replace my Nilla’s Photography site, which is about 6 years’ old now and dated. This is what’s taking a chunk of my time at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s amazing! Why build a new website though, when you can just update this one?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Not my Image Earth Travel WordPress site but my Nilla’s Photography, which lives on another Host.
        This Host doesn’t offer much customisation and costs too much money each year.
        I’m at the mercy of their updates, which costs more money each time. I’ve also come to the point where I can’t customise further. Check it out: http://www.nillasphotography.com/

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I see – I took a quick peek! Looks like you’re making steady progress. Love the social media link setup at the bottom.

        Never heard those complaints about WordPress before. It’s been customizable enough for me, and hosting each year is pretty inexpensive. One of my sites are still free. I only bought the URL.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Think you misunderstood. My Image Earth Travel is a WordPress site, which I’m happy with – no complaints with WP at all.

        On the other hand, my Nilla’s Photography site is the old one on a different host. The replacement one I’m building isn’t live yet so you’re seeing the old (black background) site. Sorry for confusion. 🙂

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      8. Oh! I thought you were saying you moved the photography one off of WP because WP was expensive and not easy to customize. Now I understand. Thanks for explaining! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      9. No, I think WordPress is great. And the reason I’ve bought a WP theme and self-hosting this time.
        My Nilla’s Photography site is with Fotomerchant and apart from a continual yearly fee, they take up to 10% on all sales. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Oh wow! Definitely time to move to WordPress. I’ve been meaning to do some research on the WordPress store as well, but haven’t gotten around to it. Are you adding one to the moved website?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I’m going to use the same URL as I don’t want to lose my Google Analytics data for the past 6 years. It’s a little tricky as I didn’t want to take down my old site yet. So, I’m building my new site using a temporary URL from InMotion (my new Host) but with an enabled ‘Maintenance’ page, in case someone lands on this page. Otherwise, an unfinished website is ugly and bad for user experience.

        I purchased the X theme and as support wasn’t great, after about 6 weeks, I dropped this and purchased the Themify Ultra theme. So far, the support has been good. To give you an example, I was able to get to almost the same place with my website in 3 days with this theme, whereas it took me 6 weeks with the X theme. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Looks like you have quite a bit on your plate with the design. Try not to burn yourself out. One step at a time, and all the best! 🙂

        I just finished up a website for a client two days ago. You can find it here: http://www.mywanderwhy.com.

        Took me 4 hours!

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Ha, ha, wise words and I’ll try not to 😉
        In Venice for 9 days so not doing much on the website at all.
        Wow, only 4 hours! It looks really good.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Oh wow, Venice! Why didn’t you pack me in your suitcase so I could come along? I don’t like you anymore 😦

        Yup, that’s about how long it usually takes me to build one and set it up. She already had this built, but it didn’t look anything like this before.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Ha, ha as it would be a little cramped, it’s my partner’s birthday…next time. 😉

        Very impressive. Apart from the shop, I need to work out a way to upload all my photos to display as small files, but then keep the original files on the site so these this can be automatically sent to the printer on ordering a photo. This is the very nice feature of my current Fotomerchant site – it has a good cart system.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Sorry, I digressed. Yes, I’ll use WooCommerce but haven’t designed my store yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Sounds like a plan! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Her Digital says:

    Wow you’re a machine! Great advice, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, so they say sometimes. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great Job! I do not work 70 hours a week but you seem like you got it under control. I work a standard 40 hr’s a week. Love your post!

    Like

    1. It took some getting used to, but it’s easy as cheese now. Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

  6. Wow that’s impressive! I just read your ‘underemployed’ post and commented that I’ve just gone part-time to make more space for ToGetHer Further – but this is a whole other challenge entirely! I’ve been working on my passion project for a year now – exactly a year as of yesterday actually – and I am so loving the indulgence of having more ‘free’ time to focus on it. That said, I am also doing the Escape the City programme to really figure out what my passions are in life so who knows where life is going to take me next! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I switched to full time but do it all (40 hours) in a 56 hour window. That gives me 4/5 days to spend however I like. I certainly can’t complain.

      Sounds like you’re spending your free time well, and have quite a bit going on. That’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

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