Freelancing and switching off

Since going freelance last February I’ve found it incredibly difficult to switch off when I’m not “in work” (hence writing this blog post at 11:30 on a Monday night). I work from home now, and even though I have freelanced before, I’m finding it harder this time to a draw a line between work life and family life.

Hanging out on Twitter and reading blog posts used to be my hobby, and I’d quite happily spend an evening glued to my iPad chatting with friends or catching up with new techniques and tools. But now that I am working for myself that all feels too much like work. I’ve tried ignoring my iDevices and I’ve tried letting myself use them as much as I want. Both methods seem to me leave me stressed, and I don’t feel like I’m achieving anything useful in return.

So last Friday afternoon I decided to ask people on Twitter for some tips…

Guys, what are your tips for switching off from work in the evenings and over the weekend?

It got a great response (mainly because Stu Robson retweeted it) and loads of people replied with their tips for switching off.

Here is a round-up of what people said…

Watch the telly

Stu suggested “crap telly”, which of course I watch a lot of, but I’m finding that unless I’m really enjoying something my mind starts to wander and I begin thinking about business issues like cash flow, difficult projects and tax returns.

Marc Drummond suggested Netflix, which is probably a better idea as I still haven’t watched any Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or Orange Is the New Black. There is a whole load of distraction waiting for me right there.

Liam Jay suggested (amongst other things): console gaming. This was my favourite screen based suggestion. Most of my life I have been massively into gaming, especially Nintendo consoles, and I’ve been thinking it’s a hobby that’s worth rediscovering. There are a whole load of Mario games on the Wii U that have completely passed me by, my teenage self would not be impressed.

The problem with these suggestions is that I should probably be looking for something that doesn’t involve sitting down, staring at a screen. My poor body is craving a different kind of activity.

Turn off notifications

Adam Whitcroft, Bevan Stephens and Patrick Fulton all suggested variations on the theme of turning off notifications (and emails and social networks etc). This is something I am trying (is it just me or are the Notification Settings on iOS a pain in arse to figure out?). It helps, but I think I am actually addicted to those little pings of happiness and I don’t have the will power to stop checking for them every 10 minutes.

Get outside and exercise

Gary Lake replied simply “bikes innit” and others suggested outdoor activities and sports too. My personal favourite was from Andy Davies who grows vegetables — that’s something I can see myself getting into.

Have a drink

Richard Baker, Keiron Skillet and John Coyne all suggested having a drink, which is exactly what I did on Friday evening and it definitely helped. Again, the health implications of this one are slightly dubious, but they say a glass of red wine every night does you good right? Plus a night out every now and then blows away the cobwebs and helps you to reset yourself back to zero, I think.

Spend time with friends and family

Sanjay Poyzer came up with probably my favourite…

hang out with friends who don’t understand what you do

This was backed up Bevan Stephens who also suggested “non-work friends” and “babies”. I have two little girls who I love spending time with and they definitely distract me from work, but part of the problem is how my home life and work life have merged, so I need to do more things with them away from the house.

It’s probably cheating but I have been trying to hang out with non-work friends by going on Facebook more in the evenings and leaving Twitter for ‘work’ friends during the day. These seems to be helping create more of a separation and still allows me to feed my addiction for notifications.


Watching more telly and having a drink are easy solutions, but they probably don’t do much to address the actual problem. I think that combining the other three main points (turning off notifications, hanging out with non-work friends and getting some exercise) are the way to go.

Time to dust off the surfboard I think.

My lonely surfboard