with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I am a born multitasker. I have no problem typing away at the computer, watching a television program, and eating a snack all at the same time. I can—and often do—handle many things at one time.
Some folks I know who’ve either tried freelancing and given it up or just never even considered it seriously tell me the problem is the multitasking. “I can’t handle working on so many different things at once,” they say. “I’m better when I just have the one thing to focus on at a time.”
In general, I cheerfully characterize the life of a freelancer as a continuous loop of Short Attention Span Theater. If you’re easily bored (like me), having multiple projects going at once is actually a huge boon; the time you might spend stalling and hemming and hawing because you hate Project X will instead be spent working on Project Y and Project Z and sending out preliminaries for Projects A, B and C.
If you’re built this way, it’s a great business model.
I’m beginning to realize that being a good multitasker does not necessarily translate to the business savvy needed to maintain good balance. Because I can do many things at once, I often just… do. Without stopping to consider what I’m doing.
Years ago when I started freelancing, if a reasonable job came along, I took it. Period. I needed the money and I needed the experience and I was working on my juggling act. No problem!
I’m beginning to realize that I am still taking every reasonable job that comes my way. And I need a new business model, because something wonderful and horrible has happened—I now have more offers of work than I can actually cover. Correction: I have more work than it would be sane to take on. And despite having vowed to turn over a new leaf and constrain my days and pay attention to my new husband, I am back to working nights and weekends way more often than is healthy.
Deciding which gigs to take isn’t entirely straightforward, either. Some small projects lead to larger ones; some large (read: high-paying) jobs are more soul-sucking than they’re worth. Some comfortable jobs need to be rethought for fiscal or even political reasons. It’s never just a matter of time or money. It’s a matter of time and money and what else is on your plate and where you hope to go and a dozen other factors.
This sort of multitasking, it turns out, I’m not very good at. And make no mistake—I don’t expect even the world’s tiniest violin to spare me a riff in the face of the dilemma of plenty of work (oh, the horror!), but I do need to come up with a reasonable way to prioritize the work I take within the framework of a normal schedule.
I need to figure it out rather quickly, because I strongly suspect that my husband is going to take away my pretty new computer and whack me over the head with it if I keep working every evening.
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