Workshifting Balance: What It Really Means to You!

Having recently completed my largest assignment as a workshifter yet, I faced some familiar demons. Workdays of 10 to 12 hours had become a distant memory since I began setting my own time, managing my own workflow and balancing my professional boundaries, but that was not to last.

All of a sudden the lure of never-ending tasks, enormous deliverables, looming deadlines and firm work cycles (publish, find bugs, submit bug reports, receive bug fixes, test fixes, repeat) sucked me in with as much power as a new Dyson vacuum. Fed by sheer adrenaline, I was on site for days on end, caught in a confusion of worlds.

When had work eclipsed the ability to shift, be flexible and maintain a balance? I knew exactly when – the truth was inescapable. I had chosen to be part of an exciting project, graciously accepted the remuneration attached to it, knowing (on an unconscious level) that the project would take its toll. I also knew that, by definition, the project would have a distinct beginning and end. Whatever happened in between was, shall we say, part and parcel of the job.

What I did not know was that, at the culmination of this project, I would face the foreign sensation of not knowing how to transition back to the flexible, workshifting balance I had been striving to achieve. Simply put, I had lost my equilibrium.

After taking a few days to mentally recharge, I stepped back and assessed my situation. I realized that my problem was not really a problem, but rather a misperception. That workshifting balance I had been seeking was not as absolute as I had painted it to be. I discovered the following truths:

My workshifting balance will vary from time to time, client to client and project to project.

My best work can still be achieved despite a slightly imbalanced workshifting schedule.

There will never be an ideal one-size-fits-all formula for my schedule. Rather, I need to be open to receiving any size project and determining if the risks balance the rewards at that time in my life.

If I stay in the moment for each project, enjoy its components and derive energy from the people and tasks, then the project – regardless of its impact on my schedule – serves a very positive purpose.

What are your workshifting truths? How do you define and achieve that workshifting balance?

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