I’ve stated so many times before that the flexibility afforded by the freelance lifestyle is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve said that because I can work at any time, I feel like I should be working all the time. That’s not fair, of course, and I understand that perfectly on an intellectual level. It also means that almost anything can be put off until later in the day, later in the week, or even beyond.
This slippery slope presents a very dangerous situation, one rife with temptation and opportunities for procrastination. I justify these decisions to myself by saying that I can work on that thing later… which is technically true. It is also true that it’s practically impossible for me to get any work done while also handling my solo daddying duties.
And so, the narrative in my head ends up going a little something like this. I’ll tell myself that when my wife has a day off from work, that will be my big opportunity to have a super productive day. I’ll embrace that hustle life and check off those to-do list items like no one’s business. That’s what I tell myself, because my wife can then be home to take care of the kid.
A perfectly sound argument, wouldn’t you say? A great plan to achieve better life-work balance, am I right? If she’s around, I can buckle down and focus on work.
If anything, I get the complete opposite effect.
It’s even more likely that I won’t start my work day until 4 in the afternoon, because we’ll decide to go out for breakfast at McDonald’s. My daughter will want to spend a little more time in the play area. And since we’re already out and in the area, we may as well hit up the nearby Costco for a grocery run. And then, and then, and then… it’s suddenly 4 o’clock.
I’m not blaming my wife for this. I’m not blaming my two-year-old daughter for this. What hurts the most about this whole situation is that the sabotage is completely self-inflicted. I brought this upon myself. I don’t have to go out for breakfast or lunch. I don’t have to go to Costco. I sabotage my own opportunity to work, because I’ve decided what is more important to me at the time. Or so I justify to myself, anyway.
As much as I might complain about or struggle with finding the time to get work done, sometimes I welcome the distraction. And I perfectly understand that having the freedom to choose, having the flexibility to accommodate greater spontaneity, is a privilege denied to the vast majority of people who have more conventional work arrangements.
Yes, I can feel like I’ve squandered an opportunity to be truly productive, like I’ve wasted my time. But then I’ve got to ask whether spending more time with my family, even if it’s doing something as mundane as a Costco run, is really a waste of time. Maybe I just need to figure out how to be more productive at other times of the day, other days of the week. Maybe I need to learn how to keep my FOMO in check. Maybe there’s something else.
In the meantime, chances are that you’ll find me running errands, eating out, or looking for books at the library. With my family.