I run Cofruition from Copenhagen where the Scandinavian work-life balance has had an effect on me. A typical work day is:
- 7.30am: wake up
- 8.30am: work
- 12.30pm: lunch
- 4pm: stop work
- 7pm: put away my phone
A big thing I’ve been trying to work on is to not open my laptop after leaving the office. Some days I’ll reply to freelancers on my phone via Asana between 4-7pm if something seems urgent, otherwise I try to distance myself from my phone.
Leaving the office at 4?
This set up would be unthinkable when I worked in London and, to some extent, in Nairobi.
Two things have changed now that I’m in Denmark:
- I don’t have a boss
- I’m around others who leave at 4pm
Regarding 1., I definitely felt an obligation to *always* be working if someone was paying me a wage. This has changed and so I feel less guilty about stopping work mid-afternoon, or taking a Friday off.
2. has had an interesting influence too. It’s comforting to feel like less of a weirdo when lots of others in my co-working space are leaving the office around 3.30pm. Were I to move back to London, I’d still aspire to leave when I felt done, but think that I may still feel pressure to keep working into the afternoon if everyone else left at 6.30pm.
Getting comfortable with not working…
There are lots of posts about the importance of not working long hours, though they generally seem to be a function of how to be more effective at work.
What I like about leaving early is that I can prioritise other areas of my life.
Running a business unfortunately means I don’t really have the headspace to create new neural pathways in my down time (e.g. start a brand new hobby, learn Danish) but I do make time for physical exercise, reading and cooking most evenings. Going to a 4pm gym class and then heading home is pretty normal.
… but work is getting done
The other factor that’s changed is that Cofruition’s output is becoming decoupled from my time.
Part of the obligation I would for staying late in the office is to get things done. There was a clear 1:1 relationship in me getting things done which meant I always had things to do.
Now that I have a team of reliable freelancers who are doing most of the execution, I’m concerned more with managing and prioritising.
This takes less time than doing everything myself and so to reach an acceptable level of output I don’t need to work as much.
My time is more orientated towards growing the business, onboarding and managing freelancers and doing creative tasks I’d struggle to find the headspace to do previously. It’s different, but also requires fewer hours.
I still really care about my work but I’m trying to get to a place where it doesn’t come at the expense of other life areas as it would do earlier in my career.
I’ve only comfortable with this as a result of:
- Not having a boss
- Have others take care of the execution of tasks
So far the new lifestyle seems to be delivering on its promise. The business is growing as I delegate more and concentrate more on creative tasks.
I am still leaving the office at 4pm and have stayed committed to not opening my laptop at home.
As a result I have been enjoying more free time and a better overall work-life balance.
And sometimes when I have a beer for lunch on Friday I don’t feel irresponsible…