Well, it’s been an interesting year. These notes on how my work life has changed this year are well overdue. I’ve been approached at events and the subject has come up in recent chats – Alisa, what have you been up to this year?
Here’s what happened.
Towards the end of last year, I was working two different roles at the same workplace. Both contracts were coming to an end. One contract was not extended. Nor was I successfully appointed in an opening. My other part-time contract was, fortunately, extended. I faced 2016 with only part-time work. Did I despair? Not at all. Was I concerned? Absolutely. But I saw this as an opportunity. An opportunity for a bit of a breather and to do some soul searching. I also have work experience in a variety of settings, so if I needed to pick up some admin work or dare I say it, waitressing, to pay the mortgage, I would have.
Around about the same time however, I was so generously thought of and picked up a research assistant contract elsewhere.
So this year I’ve been working part-time at one workplace and two research projects from home, which has worked out to be almost a full-time load. Still with me? 🙂
I’ve been living a ‘portfolio’ style of work.
A ‘portfolio’ work life
My work this year has gone from one employer/ workplace/ role to two. Three projects on the go. Plus NGAC. Instead of one constant place to go to for work, one workplace and desk, I’ve had two. The only constant in my work life has been me. And a cup of tea on my desk.
A ‘portfolio’ work life is an interesting concept and appears to be an emerging trend mainstream. A ‘portfolio’ career or work life, or also known as the ‘slash career’ isn’t for everyone. This style of working can potentially be unstable. You need the ability to focus on each project and manage your time really well. But it does place you in a position to effectively design your career by bringing on what can contribute to skill development and knowledge.
This year, I have been a practitioner and a researcher. I’ve experienced both sides. This style of working life has been rewarding for me personally and professionally. I will be a better person because of it. And I will be a better LIS professional. I think one of the main reasons why I have been able to embrace this work life is because I see opportunities both inside and outside of LIS where I can learn new skills and potentially new income streams in parallel. I don’t like to rely on one thing to bring me joy, meaning and an income. I like to diversify and spread the risk. I’ve learned this the hard way. I like knowing that if one thing falls over, I have other things.
Changes haven’t been without challenges
While I’ve decided to embrace these changes to my work life, they haven’t been without challenges. Perhaps the most challenging has been the adjustment to working from home.
At different times throughout my full-time working life, I won’t lie, I’d fantasised about working from home. A huge plus with working from home has been that I’ve designed my workspace to how I like to work. I have a whiteboard, a pin board, a place for my printer and stationery supplies, a reading chair and a desk that faces a window. My workspace is fab.
A big challenge has been not having a ‘commute’ two days a week. Buffer time between at home and being at my desk. When I’m home, do I go straight to my desk? Or should I follow the same morning routine as any other day? Do I listen to a podcast or read a book for a time, because that’s what I do on the train? 10 months later and I feel I’m still finding my groove with this.
Another challenge relates to time management. Most people I know would say I’m a pretty organised person. But I’ve flipped, flopped and changed my approach to work throughout the year – either blocking out time, or being more ‘to do’ list driven, meaning that I can start work whenever but just have everything I need to do, done before dinner or when my husband arrives home.
A downside is while I’m quite the introvert, working from home and alone means that I’m in my own head a lot. That isn’t always a good thing for a few reasons. One is I store up my ‘social energy’ and when my fuel tank is topped up, my energy and chatter is unleashed, usually with the first person I speak to. Apologies to those people. I’m not a looney tune, I promise.
So in saying all of that, I will say again that it has been an interesting year for me work-wise. I’ve embraced a different kind of work life and fought some personal battles. Also in among everything, I managed to plan a wedding. Phew!
What does the future hold? I’m not entirely sure. I have an inkling. 🙂
Has anyone else experienced this kind of work life? How have you coped? How have you flourished?