I began freelancing full time exactly one month ago, and it’s been interesting. I love it so far, to be clear, and I am really happy with the decision to do this even though it wasn’t an easy one to make, but there are definitely some learning curves happening and just a couple of things I’m finding myself still needing to adjust to that I thought I’d share…
For most of my life I thought I was bad at time management to be totally honest. I would say I’ve been good at time management within a job, as in I can manage time well within my eight hour shift, but in balancing all of the things that need to be done in my time off from a job like that I generally haven’t been great at it.
Freelancing full time has taught me that I’m actually pretty good at time management. I don’t know if it’s that the dynamic is different with freelancing where I have more control over when I work on what tasks and how to prioritize them as opposed to a traditional job, or the fact that I can get more things done around the house during the work day, but either way my time management has actually been on point.
Being My Own Boss
This sounds cliche, and in every traditional job I’ve had I should point out that I’ve never actually had a boss I’ve disliked. Even my job as a museum security guard which I utterly despised, my managers were never an issue at all. Still, being my own boss is sweet. Even though my past superiors have never been particularly stressful, it’s just nice to not have someone check in that you’re working or have to get something okay-ed from someone else.
Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time at the vet as one of my cats was just diagnosed with diabetes. My last office job would never have been an issue if I needed to take time away from the office to spend at the vet, but just already being home for this situation and not having to explain it to anyone has made it a little bit less stressful.
Working from home…
…is amazing. I know it’s not for everyone and a lot of people are burnt out from remote work following covid, but I love it. As long as I have a job like this that can be done from home, I don’t want to go back to working in person, at least not full time. There are definitely pros to working in person, but to me, the fact that I can use my own bathroom, have full access to my own kitchen, get things done around the house…It doesn’t even compare.
Of course, I’m sure a lot of why I love working from home comes with the flexibility of being a freelancer and the same can’t be said for other types of remote jobs. I love the flexibility I have in being able to take long lunches and go out and run errands if I have time to and obviously that wouldn’t be possible with other kinds of less flexible work.
No More PTO
There are definitely some cons to full time freelancing…The most noticeable to me is definitely the no paid time off aspect. I no longer have sick time or vacation time. The vacation time doesn’t really matter as much as you might think, at least for my situation. I have one primary independent contractor writing job and a few smaller ones, and the pay plan for that larger role was based on a yearly salary with an unpaid week off. Factoring that number in with the fact that I’m making more than I have overall than I was while trying to balance a 9-5 with freelancing on the side, it overall still works out in my favor.
I’ve gotten stricter about budgeting, and am basically making my own bank of “paid time off” by putting extra money from each pay period into a separate account (in addition to my normal checking and savings. I am also still contributing to an IRA, just without the employer match.) Once that account is built up more, I would feel better about the lack of PTO, but so far there have been a couple of days where it’s been frustrating so I think that’s just something to work on.
One was when I had a migraine so I first worked through more of the workday than I really should have and when it became unbearable I spent that day resting and forced myself to get up earlier and get more work done the following day to make up that money (in my old 9-5 I would have used sick time.) Another instance was when my car was having problems and I spent a couple of hours waiting on it in the shop during the workday. Again, the pros still outweigh the cons in my opinion, but I felt the need to get more work done that night so my pay would be unaffected.
Work Doesn’t Come Home With Me
I realize this sounds crazy because I work from home, but here’s what I mean…In every other job I’ve had, there have been days where I go home thinking about work, I lose sleep over work, I don’t feel like the weekend has been an adequate break from work…you get it. I don’t have that now. I don’t even think any of my past jobs have been particularly stressful (again except for that one security job) but there have still been nights where I’ve had a hard time falling asleep because I’m dreading work the next day.
Now, I think I’m so on top of keeping everything organized for clients and that coupled with the fact that I have full control over how much work I take on…It just isn’t stressful anymore. I have busy days now where I’m multitasking a lot, but nothing that is going to keep me up at night or give me Sunday scaries.
Most People Don’t Understand Freelancing or Working From Home
Sometimes I work from my parents’ house because my apartment doesn’t have laundry. My mom will talk my ear off and want me to go out for lunch (which thankfully given the flexibility of this work lunch is usually doable, but the excessive talking gets tricky because I do need to work) while my grandpa will comment that I’m working such long days, when in reality I’m not. It may be stretched over more hours but it’s because I’m doing things like going out for lunch with my mom and laundry in between articles.
At the same time, a lot of my especially older family members just assume I can drop everything anytime because I’m working from home, which makes it feel like they don’t understand that I am indeed working and also has the potential to cause stress with the lack of PTO I mentioned earlier. Like I said, learning curves.
Overall, I am thrilled to be doing what I’m doing. I first started seriously working toward being able to freelance full time probably around 2017, and it feels like my hard work has finally paid off. I do miss some of what comes with a traditional job, but this is definitely better suited for me, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!