Feelancers often have flexible schedules. We aren’t obligated to report to our cubes or offices at 9:00AM sharp, or have bosses overseeing our output. That doesn’t mean we don’t have important work to do or mean we don’t need to work evenings and weekends. Or that items on our to-do list won’t change at the drop of a hat. And more work is likely to pop up when we have other projects due or if we take time off…I often have two auditions, jobs or availability checks on the same day.
The good: If we have discipline and self-control and don’t procrastinate or fritter our days away on the Internet, Facebook or Twitter, we can usually decide when and how much to work on existing projects. My favorite benefit: we can run errands when stores aren’t crowded. (I never want to shop at Trader Joe’s on the weekends; lines extend well into the aisles.)
The bad: We can’t control when new opportunities will crop up that we want or need to take advantage of. Temptations and distractions abound. If a deadline is a couple of weeks away, we may think we have plenty of time to finish. So if friends or colleagues call when we’re engrossed in a project, ask for our assistance, want to grab a meal or decide to come to town and want us to be on vacation because they are, saying no can be a challenge. It can be easy to say, “I’ll do what my friend wants today. I need a break. I was only going to self-market and catch up on a few things I’ve been meaning to do.” Be like Scarlett and say, “I”ll worry about that tomorrow.”
We want to help out, we want to enjoy ourselves, but we don’t want to lose out on or get behind on work. What seems like fun in the moment will quickly be forgotten when we’re working overtime to finish a job that’s due, or, in my case, if I don’t get to go to a major audition. I like to have fun, but it doesn’t pay the bills or enhance my reputation/build relationships in the community. It’s harder to have a good time when deadlines hang over your head.
Feelancers (and aspiring authors and artists) don’t always get as much respect for our time as the Gainfully Employed. We need to be able to protect our schedules, say no, and not feel we always need or want to accommodate those who can better afford (financially, time-wise or both) to frolic. I started this blog because some friends asked what I did all day.
One friend’s work schedule varies, but she’s on salary. It’s easy for her to want to grab a spontaneous lunch or run out for a mani/pedi…she’s getting paid for her time off. Because she knows I sometimes work from home, she asks me to walk her dog when she doesn’t have coverage. Out of town friends just came to visit and wanted me to spend several days with them enjoying all Chicago has to offer, from restaurants to shopping to shows and/or museums. I had a long rehearsal and an audition, and needed to check my phone frequently to respond to agents and clients. I felt some pressure to be more available, but wanted to be responsive to industry professionals and didn’t want to miss opportunities that could benefit my career and bank account.
Frequent schedule changes and commitment to our clients are just parts of being a feelancer. If I’ve planned, say, lunch with a friend, I’ll need to cancel if I get a job or an audition. Work or play? It’s not always an easy decision.