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Is there a work-life balance in the gig economy?



At 7:23 pm. The night before my children start the new school year, I'm on the couch, trying to write, refusing, and asking my 9-year-old son to watch him play Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo switch. Minute email based on a tweet related to this story. Then … oops, I just remember that I do not have a smock for my younger son who goes to kindergarten tomorrow. Where do you get a smock at 07:26 PM? Sold Target Kittel? You have to sell gowns. Unless they are all without smocks, because I am THE ONLY MOTHER WHO HAS NOT FORGOTTEN THE SMOCK.

"Mumsy, let's go to the conservatory," says the older one.

I ignore him. He shoots a Nerf pistol. "Stop that," I say.

"Are we going to the conservatory? Let's go. "

This poor child. He is so much more patient than me.

"You need to close your laptop to watch me," he says, knowing. I answer that clearly vies for the mother of the year: "No, I look while I work."

Now it is 9 PM. We inhaled a vampirina episode and I have Pete The Cat is too cool for the school . The kids are sleeping and I'm in my bed listening to Rachel Maddow talk about The New York Times about the White House coup. "It's coming out of the house!" She says. I teased it out. Then … back to this story this story about Work-Life Balance . How fitting I go through my interviews and start making pieces together.

Four days later I'm still making artwork. My due date is long gone. I have a kind of mental block. I am too distracted. I'm also working on social media renewals for a beauty PR company. I launched my own Instagram brand @club_mental (Lifestyles through a Lens for Mental Health) – I need to keep that up to date! – And I create a podcast with an online therapy company and the audio editing has to be done.

Then it hits me like a lot of MacBooks.

This story is not about basic work-life balance, it's about work-life balance in the gig industry … and I can not write that story BECAUSE I'm part of the gig economy.

About 11 months ago, I left my full-time position – our company was taken over and many layoffs followed – and since then I have been my own freelance boss. My SELF editors were curious about changing the work-life balance. Oh, freedom … right?

In full revelation, I know how privileged I am. First of all, I am white and I have been making a hefty salary for years. I have severance pay, savings and many marketable skills. But I was the main earner as my husband was in starting mode for his business ( Grady's Cold Brew iced coffee company), and now I am trying to keep up the life (and bills) , we have created on the basis of this earlier salary.

A little more transparency: I never really believed in the compatibility of work and private life. I do not do much of "something in balance". I tend to do something that I / I like / want / want, and when I'm in a mood that's like a slug, I'm preparing for the full slug. Therefore, I have always considered work-life balance to be a fluctuating percentage, which, depending on the current situation, tilts in one direction or the other.

Many people. Google's "work-life balance" is a farce and tons of articles are coming up. Many of them focus on entrepreneurs, and I can understand why: Being in the gig economy, which, according to the McKinsey report for 2016, was at 20 to 30 percent of the US workforce, is essentially an entrepreneur. Of You, Inc.

Here's the problem: According to a survey by The Alternative Board, 97 percent of small business owners work weekends; 40 percent work "always" or "often" – with a big side effect of impatience. That's me for a tea I'm always on, always meet, always climb. It's hard for me to be fully present, rudely reading emails while chatting with friends or telling my kids to wait a minute because I do not want to forget the biz idea that I'm watching right now has come to mind. Whatever I have in a full-time job, I have less of it now.

This lack of a clear working day can be especially hard to manage if you have a family.

"To make high-aspiration families work, you need time, patience. "Stephanie Coontz, Professor of History and Family Studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and author of The Path We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap tells SELF. (Yes, I belong to one of these families because both my husband and my husband have high expectations.)

"A great family life depends on negotiation. People who are short of time or money do not have these skills, "says Coontz. "So you forget to express the gratitude that is a tremendous lubricant for good relationships. They tend to express the irritation that is not good for relationships. "(See my oldest son at the beginning of this article.)

Is that my fault? Society? The gig economy? I dont know. But I hurry and I'm exhausted. Why should not I be irritated? If money is not an issue and you can accept or leave an assignment, self-employment is the bastion of flexibility: do what you want! If you want to!

But if you are not independent and do not have tons of savings, this is "flexibility not for your family but for the employer," says Coontz. "There is a limit to how much you can do this. If someone else is responsible for whether you get work and you reject it for your family or your mind, he may not come back.

The feeling that this lack of control can lead to something bad. Study of 2016 published in the journal Personal Psychology frighteningly titled "Worked to Death", the researchers found that those who have little control over their Jobs alone can make decisions, including making decisions or setting the order in which they do their jobs – have a higher mortality rate.

Could this "low control of your job" apply to the gig economy? When can you choose to reject a job but not for financial or fear that you will not be asked again? "The most important thing about work stress and control is the perception of the human being, in other words, if you feel that you have a lot of stress at work, and at the same time you feel that you have little control over the work, then If work stress is harmful to your health, "said the study Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, co-author, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship of Kaley School of Business, Indiana University, informed SELF by email. "In this context, I believe that you are absolutely right – that you can control work in a technical sense, as in the gig economy, but still exercise a small degree of control when you have no choice but to take the jobs , "He also points out that gig-economy gigs might be tied to tight deadlines or customer-driven goals, which could make you feel even less in control.

OK, so Jaws [19659035] is on my way if I keep swimming. But I can not just climb out of the water.

Instead, I have to regain a sense of control, with tactics that help me create a semblance of uninterrupted working time and uninterrupted life.

For many people, an important aspect of this transition is the revaluation of your finances as your schedule (and possibly your takeaway salary) has changed. Diane Mulcahey, author of The Gig Economy and a big supporter of it, says SELF that we are all too attached to a "standard American dream lifestyle" based on a steady paycheck. If you took the regular paycheck, what does the American Dream look like? It looks like a lot less stuff. "For six years, she has been teaching an MBA course on this subject at Babson College in Boston, coaching people, mostly 'knowledge workers' (who would fit into this category) to make the transition to Gig Life and a budget based on that What is really important to her.

"What people hear is," Give up your lifestyle and buy something smaller and cheaper, "explains Mulcahey," but if you go over people more closely, they can clearly see what it's worth, bought in their lives A considerable number of people find they are buying a lifestyle they do not want to, and in most cases the lifestyle they really want does not cost that much, which changes the income they need to produce. "

She also talks about a new kind of time management that is unique to being a giant." They have multiple stakeholders, different products, different expectations, no one tells you what to do, there is no structure – it can be difficult and hectic. "

One of my tactics to deal with this is to keep a highly detailed online calendar – with project schedules and names of all in one bevor meeting, addresses with cross streets. I also do this with children's stuff, for example when school fairs are planned (so I do not forget to send in money), when enrichment programs begin (I make sure I pack lunch on those days) and when game dates take place. Since I have work and life dates in one place and are not scattered, I am much less likely to place something.

On a business level, Mulcahey recommends find out when you are most focused and prolific . "When I wrote a book," she says, "I locked all my mornings and held meetings in the afternoon. When working with clients, I need less time for concentrated work, so I can answer a few phone calls in the morning. "It takes experiments, she says, but here's a place to start: if you've been working on the FT job on weekends, investigate how you did this. Did you get up early and finish at 11am? Do you feel more effective in the café? Knowing when to focus on what helps you to be in better control and less stressed out.

And Lowering Your Stress is important – not just for you. Coontz, also Director of Research and Public Education of the Council for Contemporary Families (19459076), says that the amount of a woman is not the problem because this old misogynistic argument would make you believe. As for ? "I see all the time in my interviews: As children get older, ask what bothers them, it's not that their parents are working, their parents are so worried, and this worry is creeping into them," she explains , (There is also a complete book on this topic.)

Even though you can not always contain your fear, you may drop the idea that your children will be less than other mothers when they do with your family members. "Women have two expectations – one for work and one for parenthood – that can not possibly do both and are a basis for chronic stress and guilt." Sherry Pagoto, director of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media and president of the Society of Behavior Medicine at the University of Connecticut, says SELF. "The concept of work-life balance seems to focus on how much time we spend in each activity. If we shift our success metric from quantity to quality, it could be easier to achieve success. "

Right. Yes. Mindfulness for minutes: If you are in the life of your life, leave the spotlight there (if it is necessary to place the phone in another room, do it). When working ideas creep in, push them away. It will be your turn!

I've also found that it just takes time, even months, to settle for the "No" on assignments or projects. At some point you'll find that even if you pass this on, will be another one. But do not beat yourself because you are not the perfect self-manager. Every major transition requires a transitional period.

Since I just started saying no and being more focused on things, I also started to value my kids and my husband in some way. I realized that I would falter. I enjoy the funny language my sons use ("that's Gucci"), their adoration in striped PJs and skinny jeans, their pride in subtracting four numbers from four numbers or being the leader of a kindergarten line. As for my husband, I was together the other night the night he made me dinner. BECAUSE I have a man who cooks for me and brings me self-wizard when I'm in bed watching Netflix.

I say this for the gig industry: it's looking at the people who really matter in your life. Because they are the constant among the bills, customers and appointments.

Tomorrow is Bildtag in my sons' schools. In the early afternoon I went through her closets and put five shirt options on each of her beds. Now I go to your room to help you choose your favorite. Maybe the gig industry will eventually make me a better mother.

Amy Keller Laird is the wellness correspondent for SELF and the founder of @club_mental . She was previously Editor-in-Chief of Women's Health and Beauty Director of Allure and appeared on The Doctors, Today and . Good Morning America as an expert on health, wellness and beauty. Follow her on Instagram at @aklaird and on Twitter at @amykellerlaird .

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