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Work-life balance: my confession

'Balance' photo (c) 2008, DirkJan Ranzijn - license: I know I've blogged about it at least a couple times already, but I guess it's time to remind my dear readers and myself that no matter how much you love what you do, you need a balance in your life. Remember this post in Mox's blog called Metamorphosis of a too-busy translator? Have you experienced those times of having so much work that you hardly have time for anything else?
I sure have. In fact, I just came out of this translation feast time when I had to get up at about 4:30 a.m. every day and went to bed around midnight; otherwise my work wasn't going as fast as needed. When I initially agreed to take those projects I thought I negotiated the deadlines pretty well. But later I figured out it was a mistake. So why did I make this mistake?

Well, it's because I am still getting used to my daughter's school schedule. The kindergarten she used to attend was just 1-2 minutes' walk from our house, but it takes us about 20 minutes to get to her school now. Not too long, I know, but with the time spent on waiting till she gets dressed (my FB friends probably remember me asking for advice how I can teach my little daydreamer to put on and take off her clothes faster), reading all the announcements for parents, attending class meetings for parents about once a week etc. the time quickly adds up. Besides, Delia doesn't want to go home straight after school. I know she needs a break. It's a good thing that there's a park right opposite her school, so we often take walks there. She loves this time, I do, too... But guess what? Riiiight, then it takes us over an hour and a half just to come home from school. Did I think about it when I was negotiating those deadlines? No, I didn't, because the negotiations took place before school started.
At first I thought that wasn't a big deal. But then I realized that I was getting off the schedule. So what did I do? Of course, I started getting up earlier and going to bed later. Did it help? Yes, sure, it helped to get the work done. But at the same time it wore me out. Finally I got sick and couldn't get better for about 2 weeks because I was awfully tired. The projects were finished on time, Delia and I were never late to school, but I was really exhausted...
Then I remembered reading this article in Logos Noesis blog. Here it is: Is your work worth dying for?
And then I realized that I really need to make a difference in my schedule. I need my weekends, and I need more time for all my family duties and for the time with my husband and my daughter. So here's my small list of decisions (actually, promises to myself) that I will do my best to keep in order to not kill myself over my work:
1. I will take no more than 2 projects at the same time (preferably one, but sometimes I get too bored doing just one project, so I need another one just to stay alert). Of course in this case I need to make sure the projects have different deadlines, not too close to each other;
2. If I see that working only on 1 or 2 projects at a time doesn't provide me with good income (although I am pretty sure it should) I will raise my rates.

How do you keep this work-life balance? How do you negotiate deadlines when your life changes and you don't know whether your normal schedule will work under new circumstances? Looking forward to your comments!

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