Bill Lumbergh: “Um… I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9:00, that would be great. Mm-kay? Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Uh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, ‘kay? We, um, lost some people this week and uh, we need to sort of play catch-up. Thanks.”
There seems to be a certain misconception of freedom among people from the outside looking in. Yes, being a freelance writer provides a certain level of freedom and flexibility, but it also means that it is possible to work at just about any hour of the day on any given day. For most conventional jobs, you can place work on the backburner as soon as you are off the clock. With freelancing, you are theoretically never off the clock.
In this way, while freelancers may not be at the mercy of an inept supervisor like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, it is very common for us to work during evenings and weekends. As you can imagine, putting in all of these extra hours — whether the time is spent writing, sprucing up a portfolio, addressing administrative duties, or whatever is secondary — is a slippery slope toward burnout. This can have a very severe effect on one’s life-work balance.
One way to address this issue is to set up a standard work schedule for all of your freelance work and thus, just like a regular job, you make it so that it is not possible for you to work outside of these hours. This strategy might work, sure, but I don’t recommend it. One of the biggest reasons why I chose a career in freelance writing was because the schedule is much more flexible. If I don’t want to roll out of bed until noon, that’s okay. If I want to catch up after dinner, that’s okay too.
The majority of my work is done during the week and during conventional working hours, but this inevitably spills over into the evenings and weekends. I never put in a full eight hours on Saturday or Sunday, because I know that this would be overkill and I would totally burn myself out. Even though it is beyond the call of duty, I will put in a couple of hours on the weekend. This supplements my income and keeps my mind fresh.
For all the freelancers in the audience, I’d love to hear how much you work on the weekend (if at all). Please chime in through the comment form below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my red stapler…