So here’s a revelation for you all.
I’m a full time designer AND I am a full time Dad working from home.
Oh yes, I am one of those new sorts, the guy who works from home, and can simultaneously juggle caring for a 2 year old, ensuring a clients design jobs are attended to, and all the business end malarkey that comes with the cross-over that is inevitable. And I love it. I chose it and would not change it for all the tea in China.
I’m not going to lie to you here, and pretend it is some Utopian paradise, where my son and I easily balance his needs with the never ending barrage of phone calls, emails and deadlines that come with being a full time designer. And I am full time. Probably more full time than anyone who works in a design agency.
What isn’t strictly ‘the norm’ are my working hours, but I have managed to make this work not only to my advantage, but also to my clients. Admittedly I am not a designer that takes a panicked phone call from a new client at 9am with a deadline of 2pm that afternoon. I politely explain I am fully booked up and would love to help, but it just isn’t possible. I suggest a few names I know, and trust, and pass them on to someone who can fulfill that job. I used to take those on, until i learnt that it was potentially killing me, and for not that great a fee when you considered the pay-off.
So I have now streamlined my workflow to, firstly, only include clients with realistic deadlines. Without clients really knowing, I interview them on the phone, or in person and deduce whether their working style will fit in with mine. You what I hear you say? Let me explain. A lot can be deduced about clients in a fairly short amount of time on any call, email, or meet up and here’s the big one.
Alarm bell number one (and you will have heard this believe me)
If we can just get this job done quickly, there is loads more to come I promise.
That lovely turn of phrase ensures I will not be taking this job on, no matter what the pay. Call it experience, call it whatever you want, it translates as I want some thing doing now, for not a lot of money, and you can charge me more for the big job. Which will never arrive. I know. It wont. it never does and never will.
I work for clients with a long term plan, someone who is prepared and someone who has time to get it right. Firefighting a design job is not my bag, I did it for years in agencies, worked hard and quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I realise I cannot work like that for the period of time I am looking after my son. So now, I work with a deadline of a week minimum. That way I can easily plan my workflow, the hours needed to achieve it and achieve it really well. Obviously for long term clients I turn around jobs in an hour, but those long term clients also know my circumstances, and as they are being charged half of what a design agency costs for the same quality work, are happy for me to do so. Indeed, many prefer it, as at the end of their working day, the compile a list of jobs that need doing, email it over to me and know it will be in their inbox when they turn up for work in the morning. The same applies for my international clients.
Sure, I can sometimes work silly hours, often finishing very late, or the early hours. But the payback is I get to spend all day with my son, choosing what we want to do when the workload allows it. And I make sure it allows it. I never promise a deadline I wont hit. I never overbook myself so I’m worrying about work. If I wanted to earn a six figure sum I wouldn’t have made this choice to do both so i just ensure that a comfortable income is achieved. The ultimate work/life balance you could say.
For me, it is the best life, and if you are thinking about it I urge you to make that jump and do it. It is chaotic. It’s often challenging but it is ultimately rewarding.
Are you thinking of working from home with kids? Or are you already doing so? Share your views below and let people know both sides of the story.23