Freelance Joy and Crankiness

 

Early evidence of independence – 1968

Ah, the 1099. 55 million of us in the US or 35% of the workforce apparently work this way.

After freelancing now for three full years, thought I would jot down joys and despairs. I have 15 years worked from home, 12 years as a remote employee.

Joys

  1. Health: No daily tray of cookies or donuts wafting past my nose in an office or walking past local coffee shops. Just the health-filled items I bring to my own kitchen.
  2. Productivity: I am more productive without distractions of workplace conversations. I can get chatty when given the opportunity.
  3. Ambiance: If I want, I can light candles, incense, chant to the economy gods, and pull a daily Buddha Doodle card from the deck in front of my computer, without fear of reprisal.
  4. Multi-Freelance: I can divide my office space into different areas of interest, in my case knitting commissions and transcription.
  5. Work While Under The Weather: I can continue to work if I have a cold or allergies or the monthly curse, because no one has to care about me sneezing or pausing to curl up in the fetal position. When I worked in an office, I never went to work sick, because I was adamant about not wanting to impact anyone else.
  6. Network: I can join the Freelancers Union should I want. Upwork is another site that offers freelancers protection. Currently, I pay into my own health benefits and retirement, but networking is always good.
  7. Clothing: What is that? For the record, I cannot bring myself to work without clothing, but I can also wear the same spandex pants or potato sack for a decade and not care.
  8. Transportation: The biggest reason my car is in good shape after 17 years is due to working from home. I can work for 10 to 12 hours and still go for a walk and get other stuff done because I don’t have a commute longer than a flight of stairs.
  9. Freedom From Office Politics: So much of the stress I remember from my clinic or office work days had nothing to do with the work and everything to do with what people complained about on breaks. So-and-so was always out to get so-and-so, and the sky was always about to fall.

Cranky List

  1. Taxes: Remembering to set aside enough hundreds each month for taxes.
  2. No Vacation: Never having a full day off, let alone a paid day off.
  3. Unpredictable Workflow: No matter the specialty, freelance contract work commonly has ebbs and flows or cyclic periods. This uncertainty means financially you cannot say “no” to a job or client, and there are days when your two hands put in 16 hours, other days Nada. Lucky for me, the Nada days only occur in 2 months of the year and I have not had trouble finding more work.
  4. Portability in Theory: I still have not found an ideal way to make my theoretically portable job truly portable. To attach a foot pedal, headset, ergonomic keyboard to a laptop and attempt to sit in a coffee shop or communal space when my work requires silence and confidentiality is about as cumbersome as it gets.
  5. Isolation: This is a huge issue for many people who work from home, but as someone who has always appreciated solitude, isolation has become a lifestyle. Yes, I can go days without speaking to another adult. See #6 above for network tip. Once the young adult in my life flies, I may revert to “barista banter,” though this can become an expensive way to have human connection. The aspect of my work that mitigates isolation is listening to a wide variety of human voices. This helps me tolerate living in a not very culturally-ethnically diverse community when I’d rather live somewhere more diverse. In fact, by the end of 10 hours transcribing, I’ve probably had as much “people” input as a teacher or therapist. Only it’s one-way input. So I receive none of the positives of human interaction like someone caring how you are or that spontaneous smile or laugh or welcome-to-the-human-race thing that can happen when strangers converse. I’m likely an ambivert in true nature and would thrive in a work setting that allows half my time in direct people contact, half solo doing research or detail work.
  6. Way Too Much Sedentary & Screen Time: Less to do with freelancing and more with the nature of most jobs now. I ease the effects by having a daily nature-connection practice, walks outside, and being vigilant about a healthy, low-calorie, 100% plant diet all but one day each month when I don’t count calories.

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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