When I was first looking for work, I had to give out the telephone number of the shared house I was living in, and hope that my flatmates would pass on any messages. Needless to say, they didn’t always reach me. Getting my first mobile phone back in ’95 was a real breakthrough, enabling me to be in control of how people contacted me, even if it was expensive.
Fast forward 15 years, and now I can use my phone for email, update my blog, download clips to view. I can call anywhere else in the world cheaply for free via Skype. And make comments on the latest cuts via online project management systems. As a director, I can essentially work from my mobile phone anywhere with a decent wifi connection. And really, you’re never that far from some kind of wifi signal.
This is great, as you can take time off without having to worry about abandoning the project you’re working on, and you can still get your job ad updates from the likes of Production Base and Film Crew Pro. You can be responsive if someone calls to offer you work.
However, as a freelancer, I remember that niggling doubt in the back of my mind when I went away: “When will the next job come in?” I only got chance to have holidays between contracts, which meant the time I was away I should have been looking for work. It’s not a holiday if you’re constantly worrying about the next job. You have to have the ability to stop. To switch off completely from work. To be ‘out of service’. To allow your brain to clear from the pressures of production.
So here are my tips for balancing ‘keeping in contact’ with ‘getting away from it all’:
1) Make sure you have an out of office reply set on your email, saying that you are ‘away’. Being ‘away’ is much more ambiguous. State a time of day that you check your emails (see below).
2) Change your answerphone message. Again, clearly state a time of day you’re going to be checking messages.
3) Usually, email software on phones and laptops are set to check for messages every 5 -15 mins. Make sure this is turned off, so you have to actively choose to pull emails off the server, and be sure to do this only once or twice a day. Pick a point in the day which seems appropriate eg during a recent holiday, 6pm in Stockholm was usually the point where I was back at the hotel from a day out, and before I went out for the evening. It was also 5pm in the UK, which meant I could deal with any emails before close of business on the same day.
4) Then go and do something fun and unwind!