Strictly Business: Vampire, Blender, or Clocker?
Posted Sep 1, 2008

As I often tell people, the biggest advantage to working from home is the convenience. Alas, the biggest disadvantage is also the convenience! You can go to work at any hour of any day, and "stay" as long or short a time as you wish. You may find yourself frequently working into the wee hours. Or, you may get up very early and begin your workday at 5 a.m.—even earlier, if you care to.

While this may be necessary when a big project is due, if this is your usual working pattern, it may indicate a problem. While different approaches work for different individuals, the key is discipline. You need discipline to work in spite of distractions, and you need discipline to stop working as well.

When I was in my 20s, just a kid in this business, I thought nothing of spending a 9 a.m.-to-9 a.m., 24-hour shift editing 16mm corporate films and commercials in a windowless editing studio at Cinema Sound Productions. I was pretty much what I’d call a "vampire"—I ran best at night. And I did so for a number of years.

During the past few years, as I’ve run my business from an office-studio a few miles from my home, I noticed that I operated more like a "blender." I’d head to the studio, do some work there, then head back to the house and finish some work there. I’d grab lunch, do the dishes, check and answer my email, update my website, mow the lawn, relax on the deck, eat dinner, go back to the studio and edit an audio track, head back home and work on a column, do more email, head to bed, wake up, and repeat.

While this worked for a while, now that I’ve moved all of my operations in-house, my ultimate goal is to become a "clocker." It’s not that I’m anxious to return to the good old 9-to-5 days. Heaven forbid! It’s just that by establishing a schedule, I actually have a set point where I can (i.e., "must") stop work and enjoy the finer things in life, such as a home-cooked New Orleans-style dinner with Gayle, a long walk with the dog, and a long soak in the hot tub.

Whether you’re a vampire, a blender, or a clocker, here are a few tips for making your body clock work for you, and not putting yourself on the road to burnout in the process. The important thing is that you control your schedule—don’t let it control you.

So there you are. Whether you’re a vampire, a blender, or a clocker, you can always get the work done that needs to be done and, equally important, still have time and energy to enjoy what it is you’re working for. Me, I still love pulling the occasional all-nighter. Conversely, once in awhile I’m equally happy to skip out on all my responsibilities and spend the day in full-lounge position.

Steve Yankee (syankee at has more than 35 years of video production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Mich.