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Freelancing is not for slackers October 13, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

As one of my favorite writing blogs, The Urban Muse, wrote this morning, “freelancers tend to be highly driven and hard-working.” This is not a job for slackers. You have to have the drive to succeed in order to be a successful freelancer. The downside to this is our tendency to work all the time. The Urban Muse suggested reading Steph Auteri at Freelancedom’s great post about balancing life with work, and I don’t think I could do a better job explaining it. Go ahead and read it, I’ll still be here when you get back…

I think all of us can relate to this common problem. Steph lists her four top priorities that should always be on the top of her to-do list: eating, sleeping, breathing and bonding. I think these are needs that every one of us has. I personally have no problem getting enough sleep (I need at least 8 hours to be on top of things), but I also stay up until all hours of the night. Not having anyone press me to go to bed and no kids to wake up in the morning helps a lot… When I have a pressing deadline I let the refrigerator go bare (and I also forget to eat balanced meals or eat at all) and the dirty dishes and clothes pile up. I also notice that the most common complaint among my colleagues is the growing waistline. I try to schedule in exercise, but sometimes it too falls by the wayside. I have also been trying much harder to have a social life, which my friend Jane is constantly commenting on. I try to make it a priority to have lunch with a friend, go out to dinner with friends, or attend a Meetup.com get-together. That said, I’m still single and happily so. I don’t know if anyone could understand the crazy hours involved with translating.

What about you? How do you balance your personal needs with your professional drive?


1. Corinne McKay - October 13, 2008

Jill, this is so true! I always tell my translation students that in order to make it as a freelancer, you have to be the kind of person who is described by other people as a go-getter, a compulsive overachiever, etc. otherwise you’re better off working for someone else.

I also agree that part of the key to having a balanced life is scheduling things to prevent yourself from working, like your meetup groups and lunch dates. One person I know who rents an office outside the house sublets her office on Wednesdays so that she has to take the day off. I try to pick one thing that takes about an hour every day: volunteering at my daughter’s school, running or biking with a friend, etc. so that I can’t just hunker down in the office. Having a kid definitely helps with the late nights issue; if I’m not in bed by 11, getting up for school the next day is just excruciating. Great post!

2. Judy Jenner - October 13, 2008

Very true, very true. Just like Corinne, I try to do at least one thing a day outside the house. Since I just started freelancing full-time, I am learning as I go. Initially I was scared of social isolation, but the opposite has been true: many days I have a long run, a lunch date with a friend, and an evening event, and I need to pick and choose. Some of my friends think that being a freelancer means I can putz around all day, which of course it does not.

I am very Germanic and do tend to work too much, but I am loving it. One thing I never neglect is working out: it’s been such a huge part of my life for 15 years that I can’t not do it. Some days I am happiest when I am at home, working all day, and only leaving the house for my run (which starts from my house, no carbon footprint).

And of course, you are all right: freelancing isn’t for slackers. I like the Urban Muse blog a lot, too. I know many people who couldn’t freelance (=they would watch TV all day or goof off), but for me, it’s perfect. And I really enjoying being a night owl and working until at least midnight, as my twin works out of Vienna. That way, we can talk about our projects as soon as she gets up.

3. Ryan Ginstrom - October 14, 2008

It’s probably true that not many freelancers are slackers. I’m not a slacker, but I aspire to be one. There’s something about the slackers’ acceptance of their mediocrity that I admire. But try as I might, I continually find myself doing more than a slacker should. Slough off one responsibility, and two more creep in to replace it…

4. jillsommer - October 14, 2008

@Ryan – Too funny! I too aspire to be a slacker. Unfortunately my bills and life keep interfering with my aspirations… 🙂

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