I’m writing this monthly series about the joys and challenges of full-time freelancing, and it turns out that in many cases the joys are the same as the challenges — usually two sides of the same coin.
That is certainly true with the question of time management. The joy and challenge of your time being truly your own are intimately related to the first pro/con I discussed — being your own boss.
When you’re your own boss, you are the only one who decides when you do what. And how much you can actually do in the time that you have.
Pro: Your time is your own
Being in charge of our own time is one of the things we full-time freelancers love best about our jobs.
There’s nothing worse, in my humble opinion, than having someone telling me when and where I have to be all day every day. Yet that’s the daily experience of most people with day jobs. It’s such a normal part of work life that most people don’t allow themselves to think how imprisoning it is.
Of course you only get the benefit of time flexibility if you’re a full-time freelancer like I am. If you’re doing it as a side hustle on the edges of an office job then you’re actually even more time-restricted than you were before. There are only so many hours in a day, after all.
When you work full-time freelance, however, you can come and go as you please. It makes doing “life” so much easier.
You can do grocery shopping or schedule appointments in the middle of the day, shifting your work into early morning or evening to accommodate instead of having to forego working hours. You can take a break from work to put the laundry in or tidy the kitchen. You can do easy administrative tasks on your laptop in the evening while you’re watching a movie with your spouse.
You can work on what you want when you want as long as you’re on target for deadlines. You can even blow work off altogether some days randomly if your deadlines and budget allow.
Con: Your time is your own
The flip side of this coin is that when your time is your own and you work at home, it can be very hard to create separation between your work life and your home life.
You may not want a distinct separation anymore; there’s a natural blurring of boundaries that occurs when you freelance. But that blurring means that there’s no one but you to place limits on your work life. You can find yourself working all the time, or getting behind on deadlines because you’re overly focused on life tasks.
There’s also the question of time management as you try to juggle a stable of clients that give you a variety of projects with a range of deadlines and tasks. It can be very difficult to get everything done when it’s supposed to be, and you’ll get no coaching or guidance to figure out how.
No boss — other than yourself — is going to step in and tell you to get back to work when you’re goofing off, procrastinating, or getting caught up in non-work priorities.
And ordering yourself around is harder than it looks.