Being a freelancer can be tough. There are a lot of great things about it; like choosing to meet an old friend for coffee in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday, or taking the whole day off because it is snowing outside and when did you last throw a snowball. But the flip side, in my experience, is one of potential enormous imbalance that needs to be kept in check.
Work/Life Balance is a hackneyed old phrase. Perhaps one that has lost all meaning by the simple fact of its overuse. I remember constant discussions around it when my friends who worked in traditional 9-5 office jobs first got handed their shiny new BlackBerry’s, back in the day. We were all very excited by the snazzy gadgetry at the time, but it wasn’t long before I witnessed it as the conduit for work encroaching on people’s evenings and weekends in a way our generation had not felt before.
When you work for yourself and your home is your office, the potential peril of never quite stopping working is even greater.
I first joined the ranks of ‘creatives who don’t have a day job’ over a decade ago now, and it’s a big deal when it happens, mostly because it is a privileged position to find yourself in – one that most of one’s peers can only dream of. I did not take to it like a duck to water. There were weeks, months even when I just could not get my act together, and the lack of discipline that a boss with an insistence that you clock in and out afforded me culminated in, for the most part, lying on the sofa watching daytime TV and dipping blocks of cheese into jars of mayonnaise for sustenance. Talk about not having a purpose!
After what seemed like an eternity I finally managed to find a routine – small things like taking a shower helped – and now I find myself more than 10 years on struggling with the problem of the work never really ending. Friday evening in with one’s significant other will be interrupted by an enquiry via Facebook Messenger from a potential new student. And this is not something I can ignore and leave until Monday. Perhaps I should. Perhaps there would be no repercussions if I did. But, part of my work ethic is that inboxes get emptied and stay emptied. Things are not allowed to linger. This has its pluses and minuses. Especially as others one would like to collaborate with work in different ways – my own quasi-obsessive approach to work these days is not shared with all my creative playmates. And long may that be the case.
So, I embark upon another weekend whilst I shall try my best to curb the desire to reply to Instagram comments or check my YouTube analytics, and instead go for a walk with the husband and leave the phone at home. I’ve just broken out in a cold sweat typing that last sentence. This is never going to work. INTERVENTION.
See you on the other side – if we’re saved!