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Friday, April 15, 2016

Working With Your Partner And What I've Learned...Her Perspective

Let me start this post off by saying working with your partner (or significant other for those playing along at home) is extremely satisfying but challenging. For the most part Chris and I work well together and there is a clear divide of responsibilities but I would be lying if I said things always ran smoothly. There are times, and I will go into more detail below, where I would like to take a chair upside his head (not literally) and I'm sure he feels the same about me, especially when I am questioning his ever rigid system for the umpteenth time. Having said that, I get to work with my best friend five days a week for 8 (or more) hours a day and I wouldn't trade that in for all the tacos in Taco land!

So, what is it like to work at home with my partner? My experience overall has been a really positive one and I'm sure that is owing mostly to my fantastic co-worker! We start the day off together at breakfast and then "go to work" as I like to say. I head upstairs to the office and Chris stays downstairs with my brother in law. We are working on two completely different areas of Canadian Philately so we really don't need to work side by side however our communication is fairly regular. If I need clarification on something I'll usually text him (isn't technology great) and he will periodically pop up to bounce an idea off me. We also have a lot of fun (despite my painting Chris as a bit of a tyrant) and laugh a lot. It's true that I tend to be the more lax out of the two of us but I think that is why we work so well together. We balance each other which allows for a much smoother running business/home life than if we were both too much one way or the other.

In my experience a big part of making it work (at least for Chris and I) is setting clear boundaries around our schedules and respective work loads. For instance, I set myself what I would consider reasonably attainable goals and if I don't reach them I might become upset but usually I won't sweat it too much and buckle down the next day. I like to take short breaks during the day to refresh myself and keep my brain sharp. I make meals and properly hydrating myself is a priority and I will force myself to stop and refuel even when I feel the pressure of a deadline or particularity difficult task. I will also try and stick to a "quitting time" though sometimes this is easier said than done. All of this helps me to function at my best while still feeling like I have a balanced work/home life.

Chris on the other hand has a much different work ethic and style than I. I've affectionately nicknames him Mr. Focus and for those who have known him longer than I, you know what I am talking about. I believe I've mentioned before how dedicated and hard working he is and this usually manifests itself in several ways. Chris will sit down to a task and will not get up until said task is complete much to the detriment of his poor stomach or sleep cycle. He will not take a break (if he can help it) and in his world there is no "quitting time." I cannot help but admire his discipline and work ethic and lord knows he has set the benchmark in this business. For someone a little less focused (yours truly) this can be a bit difficult to understand but I have the deepest respect for what he does and applaud his tremendous self discipline. I just wish he would eat a sandwhich now and then. ;)

As I mentioned previously working with your significant someone can be problematic at times. One challenge we struggled with was the free and open exchange of ideas in a respectful way. This is something that didn't come up until after I got more comfortable with business operations as I felt I didn't know enough to offer an opinion before. Now however I will make what I think are great suggestions to improve the overall productivity of the business and allow us to get more bang for our buck (like updating antiquated software). At first this was met with a lot of obstinacy and hurt feelings which is partly my fault as I usually prefaced my ideas with phrases such as, "this is dumb, let's do it this way" and "wow, this sucks, I know a much better way to do this" needless to say, my partner was less than receptive. But, after much discussion and a great deal more respect for one anther's feelings we put some of my ideas into practice and the business is running smoother than ever. There are other significant problems that can arise such as making enough time for your relationship outside of the business and time for yourself. One thing that works for us is scheduling date nights and communicating when we need our own space. This allows us to keep our relationship outside of the business on track and healthy so we don't kill each other at work (lol).

The best takeaways from this experience so far are to be patient with your partner and respect one another's ideas and different work practices. Not everyone attacks their job in the same way so you must not expect your partner to have the same ideals and methods as you. Also, not every couple can work together (as I've been told many maaaaany times) so if you have the kind of relationship where you can, appreciate and savour that fact. I wake up thankful every day that I get to share in something my partner loves and as I mentioned before, if I were offered an entire island of tacos in exchange for giving up this life I would turn it down for a slice of stamp heaven.

Stamp Geek, out!

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