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/
Take a look around the ‘net for articles on how to be a successful freelancer, and you’ll see it time and time again: advice that either hints our outright claims that without an airtight schedule for your time, you’ll never make it. Successful freelancers are organized! They’re masters of time management! And it’s impossible to get your work done and/or live a balanced life if that’s not how you proceed.
I’ve been doing this for long enough, now, that I feel compelled to respond to this mindset with a resounding “Yeah, not really.”
It is absolutely true that you have to be organized; if you can’t keep track of deadlines, you’re not going to get very far in this business. If you can’t get things done for clients, they’re not going to hire you again. That’s obvious. But must you set a strict schedule for yourself in order to be a successful freelancer? I don’t think so.
The truth is that you just have to figure out what’s sustainable for yourself. When I have a lot of projects going at once, I map out a schedule for myself, sure. For example: I tend towards the working-all-hours pitfall of freelancing, so when I’m busy it’s crucial that I set a goal of stepping away from the computer by a certain time.
But on any given day, I review pending deadlines and appointments, I sit down, and then… I work for a while. Some days, I work all day long. Some days, I take a long lunch. Some days my head is just not in the game, and I take some time away from it and work in the evening, instead. Most days I follow a pretty similar routine, but some days I give myself permission to go take a nap or play hooky.
I wasn’t always this way. I got here in a roundabout manner; last year we had what felt like one family crisis after another, and my carefully orchestrated work days were being blown apart one after the other. I found it really stressful and frustrating and disruptive to my work (and that’s not even touching on emotions it was creating in the family-life side of things) until I finally just surrendered. I realized there was going to be no such thing as a regular schedule for a while. And suddenly I had a lot less stress, most days, and the work still got done.
Now things are calmer ’round these parts, but I’ve stuck with a looser schedule. This summer I’ve spent more time with my family. It’s been awesome. And I still work a lot—some days I work longer, some shorter—but it still works, somehow. I’m still a control freak (ha) but I think maybe it’s a little more accurate at this point to say I’m a recovering control freak.
Are you a schedule-everything person or a go-with-the-flow kind of person? Has it changed, over time?
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