Working from home was a big change - living the 9-5 life for the previous 17 years made this feel refreshing but also challenging!
The feeling that the 9-5 working week was still needed took a little while to shake in all honesty, and it took a couple of great business advice books and much advice from my wife before it dawned on me that being self employed leaves it open as to how you manage your time.
My working week is 7 days, it also spans the entire day on occasions - that doesn't mean I always work all day, in fact almost the opposite. It means that during the week, with family at school and work, normally the laptop is turned on once the kids are dropped off at the bus, so sometime around 9am. Occasionally I might drop a couple of emails over to clients or enquiries before the bus run, so anywhere between 7:30am and 8:15am. It gets turned off for the school bus drop later on, and also if I'm making dinner, but it is often on again for a bit more work once everyone has eaten and settled down to whatever else is going on - that can be at 6pm or it can be at 9pm, it really just depends on what work is going on and what else life is up to. On a weekend there are usually lots of patches of dead time, time when others are out, watching TV or whatever, and I often use this time to tackle some of the tasks which can be dropped in and out of and don't necessarily need 3 hours together at the same time.
I also book out two hours each week for the gym first thing after the school run - this isn't fixed in stone, and if something crops up or a client meeting can only happen on those days and times, then I'll move things around, however booking out these two 1 hour slots works really well - before I did this, the gym often got left out because it didn't always fit anywhere else. Normally Monday and Thursday mornings start with the gym, it fits nicely around the exercise from my other hobby, Motoha Yoshin-Ryu JuJutsu, which is a Tuesday evening of teaching and training from 5:45pm through to getting home again around 10pm.
The web design work is a mix of updates for existing client's websites, development of new ones and from there any meetings and email communication answering enquiries and client questions. We use the really simple Microsoft To-Do app, running across all of my devices for ease of use, to log and track tasks - it works great, and combined with our email, is probably one of the most used 'tools' for managing my time and work flow.
Allowing myself the freedom to work around anything else going on in life makes things much easier to manage and also means that I can respond to clients needs and enquiries much better than trying to fit everything in to a fixed working pattern. Quite often the rest of my family may be home in the evenings and weekends doing their own thing, so I can happily take my laptop wherever I want to put a few hours of work in, or enjoy the benefit of having a dedicated home office space, pop some music on and get on with whatever work needs done.
I have had one or two enquiries which asked 'What happens when you go on holiday and there's a problem, who can help?' - it's an easy answer with today's technology, as even in Spain I have access to wifi and my tablet runs full Windows 10 so I can boot it up when needed and resolve any issues without concern - in fact this year when I was away I did this a few times for one client, successfully making a couple of urgent changes when hundreds of miles away from home. The idea of taking work on holiday may be what some may perceive as stopping you enjoying a relaxing break, however it is more relaxing being able to sort things out when needed than it is knowing that when you get home there are half a dozen things waiting for you :)
Clearly working in the almost entirely digital business of website design makes some of this more feasible than it perhaps would for other more physical businesses, but merging life and work into one means it is much easier to have the time for everything as opposed to trying to shoe-horn things into set schedules which often causes more pressure than being flexible and open to how your routine works out. Not working from a rented office space also means I don't need to worry about rent and utilities costs which directly reflects on the prices I charge as well as meaning I am not again tied to travelling to work and being there between certain hours.
There's also nothing better sometimes than arranging to meet a client in a good coffee shop, serving great food, and either arriving a bit earlier to enjoy the food and get a little work done on the free wifi, or staying a little later afterwards for the same - there's also a little bit of supporting other local businesses in doing this, choosing locally run cafe's instead of larger chains!
I think a closing sentence, the above all just sums up our flexibility to deal with our web design clients promptly and nearly always, at the time they need us to be available - meaning we can be as responsive as our websites are :)