When choosing to become a freelancer, many friends and family will envy the lifestyle they picture you to have. Working from home from anywhere in the country, they imagine long lazy days watching daytime TV whilst answering emails in the ad breaks.
Any freelancer knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth; working from home is a strain and one that needs a good support network if it’s ever going to succeed. Family may decide that as you’re at home you can juggle tasks, such as babysitting, waiting for the washer repair man, or nipping to the post office for them because they can’t due to their job.
It takes patience and a direct response to make even the closest of family realise that between the hours of nine to five you are working, probably harder than anyone else. As a freelancer you won’t be paid for sick days and a holiday will take months to arrange. Christmas is carefully managed so you don’t miss out on the money.
Martina Mercer is an award winning entrepreneur, copywriter, author and marketing consultant. She works with brands such as Lush, Cross, Waitrose, and knows a thing or two about the work life balance,
“I’ve just moved into an office into the paddock next to my house as I needed to make that separation between work and home life. Although I often work from a client’s office when I’m at home it can be difficult to be professional after 3.30pm when the children are quite excited to be home and just want their mum. I found the constant interruptions would make work spin out until late evening but now, if they don’t disturb me, I can get through my to do list by 5pm. I know not everyone has the space to do this but a shared office or even the library can help a freelancer make that distinction between life and work. Of course, many mumpreneurs, work from home to be there for their children and so, it can be an oxymoron but I’ve found childcare is the best thing I ever did for the sake of my business, and the kids, as I now have set hours and can concentrate on work 100% while I’m there and the children 100% when I leave the office. Before, neither were getting 100% attention!”
As we work harder as freelancers, sometimes the nine to five day can seem like a dream, especially when starting out, we’ll still answer emails at midnight just in case we miss an important contract or a job is offered elsewhere. This is where determination is needed and a genuine passion for work, as the obstacles are quite possibly endless so sacrifices need to be made.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, as nothing beats the feeling of being your own boss, demanding your own pay or working from any location. When you earn enough as a freelancer you can afford to live in a rural retreat without the worry of a commute to work.
However, relationships will become under strain as the only thoughts running through your mind are that of your next big project. Family will make demands on your time, and if you’re not careful you could burn out not long after you’ve begun.
A tip that works well with families is role play, and although it seems silly it really works. Especially if you have children and your partner will be at home taking care of them as you work.
Make sure you have a designated space for working, one that cannot be infiltrated by junk or toys. Invest in a desk that suits your personality and call the office your own. A lock on the door will keep out unwelcome distractions, although it may offend at first, explaining gently that the quicker you work, the quicker you stop, eases the egos of everyone around.
Then as you rise pretend there’s a boss watching the clock waiting for you to arrive. Resist the urge for that extra ten minutes as the sooner you start the sooner you stop. Calculate how many hours you’d happily work each day and as soon as you sit down at your desk let your partner adopt the mind-set that you’ve left for the office until home time.