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/
Well, now I’ve seen it all.
I thought I’d seen all the lists—mistakes women make in business, mistakes male bosses make, mistakes freelancers make, mistakes male freelancing bosses overseeing women of a certain height during months that end in “ber” make. (Okay, I may have made up that last one.) The point is, society loves a list, particularly when it comes to a step-by-step accounting of how to do something right or how everyone is doing it wrong.
But now there’s this: Courtesy of FreelanceSwitch (which you should have bookmarked and should be reading religiously, fellow freelancers; do I have to tell you everything?), we now have The Five Most Common Mistakes of Female Freelancers and The Five Most Common Mistakes of Male Freelancers.
I was prepared to be offended. I was ready with my moral outrage, truly. But then I saw that women actually got off a bit easy, here.
To wit: Here’s their list for women:
1. Being afraid of self-promotion.
2. Not separating work life and home life.
3. Getting bullied into a lower rate.
4. Not re-investing in you and your business.
5. Being intimidated.
But here’s their list for men:
1. Your desk is not your home
2. Freelancing is no excuse for poor hygiene
3. Counter-Strike is not a billable activity
4. Don’t let ego destroy good work
… and the fifth item is a link back to the piece about women, cautioning men to heed those rules as well.
So, technically, women are cautioned about five things, while men are cautioned about nine. Plus, women come off looking timid, while men come off looking like smelly slackers.
All in all, it feels like a good time to be a woman, no?
Personally, what I find interesting here is that the thing other women most often say to me, when we talk about freelancing, is that they could never [insert assertive activity here], and I’m always surprised. I self-market. I negotiate. I go after work. I’m not a shrinking violet, and so those sorts of activities have never been difficult for me. Now that I’ve read these lists, I think I’ve finally discovered why.
I might actually be a man. (Crap. Um, don’t tell my husband….)
Of the nine postulated mistakes, the one I’m most likely to commit is the one that’s first on the male list. Limit myself to a maximum of 8 hours a day at my desk? That happens… ummm… yeah, I think I’ll need to plead the 5th on this one, actually. And while I’m fessing up, I’ll tell you that the directive to “shower before you work” is one I rarely heed, as well. I often do half a day’s work before I shower. (Though this one, I’d argue, is a matter of style rather than right or wrong.)
My biggest hurdle is balance—which is both number 1 on the male list and 2 on the female list, semantics aside—and I’m not sure that’s unusual. Most people and nearly all freelancers I know suffer from issues in balancing work and the rest of life. Is that a gender issue, really?
I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say that I suspect that people (female or not) who have difficulty being assertive—arguably 3 or perhaps even 4 of the “mistakes” on the female list—have very short freelancing careers. If you’re not prepared to pimp yourself, you’re a poor fit for self-employment.
But what do I know? I’m (apparently) just a guy trapped in a woman’s body.
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