Being a freelancer is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s fabulous to be my own boss. One the other hand, it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.
My days consist of doing the work (i.e. researching, writing, editing), invoicing, paying bills, organizing my time (ignoring the growing piles on my desk that need to be organized), going to networking meetings, and Facebook. Yes, Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc., you know — online marketing. I really enjoy doing the work part. I don’t relish much of the rest.
Friends tell me to outsource some of this. What’s to outsource? I know how bookkeeping works, as I used to be a bookkeeper. I also can’t very well outsource networking, since I’m selling myself. And really, who can outsource Facebook? If you want to be authentic, you’ve got to actually show up, at least some of the time.
The Singing Sirens
Since the majority of my time is spent “doing the work,” I can’t complain. But some days, like today, I hear the beckoning call of sirens. You know — those little voices that tell you, “go shopping,” or “read a novel,” or “have a nap, you deserve it.”
I didn’t hear those voices when I was an employee and had a boss. Well, I didn’t hear them often, and when I did hear them I pretty much ignored them. There’s something about being self-employed that makes these little devils on my shoulder pop up more frequently. They actually make me consider playing hooky. I think it’s because I only have to answer to myself, and part of me finds accountability hard.
I’m like a child — stuck in the classroom as spring waits to play outside. I have to hold myself responsible, not to a teacher or a boss, but to myself. Part of me wants to abdicate this responsibility. Another part of me revels in it. It makes me feel strong when I overcome those singing sirens.
As I’ve written for most of my life (usually for free), you’d think I’d be used to the distractions that try to take me away from my work. But like all creative types, I battle various demons to get the work done. Sometimes they’re harder to ignore than others.
Tools to Battle Your Sirens
I’ve developed an arsenal of tools to battle these sword-wielding demons. The first one is to do a quick, non-work related task. These include folding laundry, picking up the house, and calls to friends or family. The second is to rely on my best friend, my timer. I’ll work for 30 to 60 minutes, and then take a 10-minute break. This trick works really well when I’ve got a large project to get done.
Another tool I use is to put on some upbeat music and dance for 2–3 minutes while the song plays. (I usually close my blinds when I use this tool.) Dancing gets my creative juices flowing and I feel more like working.
The strongest tool I have is gratitude. I absolutely love writing and working from home. I love the solitary silence of my house before my family returns in the afternoon. I love the freedom to work in different rooms of my abode. And I love the actual work of researching, writing, and editing that goes into changing words into thoughts. I sit quietly and feel grateful for about 10 minutes. I think about the times I worked away from home and how much I enjoy being home. This tool chops those sirens down to size pretty fast.
As I go through the day I try not to cut myself on this double-edged sword of play vs. work. I get the work done during the day and take time off work when my family is home. Most of the time, my double-edged sword just sits on the shelf. But sometimes, like today, the sirens are just too strong! Maybe — just for today — I’ll give in and go outside to play. Work can wait, don’t you think?
Julie Gubler is a creative copywriter who enjoys writing special reports, ebooks, and other corporate materials. She thinks of her clients as Heroes, and of herself as their Sidekick. She’s committed to helping her clients look their best, and blogs about boosting their superPOWers at http://www.hero-stories.com. All business Heroes need to look good in print, and Julie helps them POWerup their printed materials at http://www.hero-printing.com.