This post hasn't been updated in over 2 years.
I have a confession to make: I work on the weekends. It’s actually pretty rare that a weekend goes by that I don’t work at least a couple of hours. For many freelancers, working on the weekends is a no-no (although I think more of us would say that we shouldn’t work on the weekends than would say that we actually don’t work on the weekends). For several years, I’ve tried to figure out how to keep my weekends clear, but recently, I’ve been embracing it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong with doing some work every weekend. There are plenty of if’s, then’s and but’s that go with this decision, of course. I know I need a healthy work-life balance as much as the next freelancer. I certainly wouldn’t recommend my approach to every other freelancer out there. But if you find yourself doing a little work on the weekends and not minding it, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
When It’s Okay to Work On the Weekends
One of the reasons I haven’t set the weekend off-limits for work is because I don’t usually work a full forty-hour workweek during the other five days of the week. Most of the time, I’m taking a class that will eat up at least a couple of hours during the week, not to mention making use of the fact that I have a flexible schedule to get out and do things during the workweek. That makes at least a little work on the weekends necessary just to meet my goals.
I’m not talking about putting in an eight-hour workday every Saturday and Sunday — I certainly believe that I need plenty of time away from my computer. But I choose to space my days off out through the workweek, rather than trying to convince myself that I should even check my email to make sure that none of my clients have had an emergency. I’m swapping out a couple of hours of Saturday morning cartoons for a little writing.
When It Isn’t Okay to Work On the Weekends
Just because I’m at work on the weekends, I don’t let my clients know that they can try to reach me then. Most of the people I work with don’t realize that I do any work on the weekends, and that’s the way I want to keep it. I don’t even send out emails most weekends — I queue them up and wait to actually send them until Monday morning. I think that one of the biggest problems with working around the clock is when your clients expect you to do exactly that. Something like putting in a few extra hours over the weekend or working later into the evening has to be a decision you make for yourself, rather than letting a client dictate your hours.
Just as importantly, you have to be personally comfortable with whatever schedule you work on. If you want to spend your Saturday and Sunday away from the computer, you should. And even if you’d rather spend every waking hour working on freelance projects, you should probably make a point of spending some of your weekends outside, anyway. But there are many freelancers who need that break in between weeks and that’s perfectly fine.
I’ve gotten curious, just from thinking about my own schedule. What about you? Do you consider the weekend fair game? Why or why not? Did you have to do anything in particular to set boundaries around what you will and won’t do on the weekend?