Once upon a time, I had a client who worked hard. She juggled multiple projects within her department. One of those projects was a document I was tapped to help with. Every year, we worked together to get this document ready. Time wasn’t a factor — this was a paper version of an online document. It would be seen by shareholders and investors only, and that the information was nearly outdated as we started didn’t matter. So every year, we assembled and formatted and edited.
And every year, she asked if I worked a particular holiday weekend.
It wasn’t a request or anywhere near a demand — it was just a question asked every year for four years. “Do you ever work holiday weekends?”
The guilty writer in me wanted to say yes.
The smart business person in me said no.
Why I said no:
The deadline wasn’t urgent
My family was together only on weekends
I needed a break from the intensity of that project and others
I didn’t want to
I’ll admit that first time I said no to her question, I held my breath. I thought she’d drop me from the project (sometimes, corporate people aren’t as flexible as they pretend to be). I wanted — needed — that project. I prepared for what would happen next.
Nothing happened. She said “Okay, no problem.”
That was my first lesson in putting boundaries on my time. Had I said yes to her request, I would have worked four holiday weekends for no additional pay and the project wouldn’t have been but a few hours closer to being finished. Plus, I’d have resented both my client and myself.
So today, on this holiday, I suggest you realign your values, too. Shut off the computer. Switch off your cell phone. Go out and enjoy Memorial Day in the way it was intended. Spend time with the people who love you best, and create memories instead of invoices and resentments.
Happy Memorial Day, everyone.
Writers, have you ever worked during your scheduled time off?
Have you collected a higher rate as a result?
Do you have clearly established boundaries around your time? If so, when do you allow for exceptions?