Why freelancers should free themselves of guilt

Peta
As I freelancer, why do I always feel so guilty? I could put it down to my catholic upbringing which, despite my lapsed status, is still deeply ingrained within me. Or I am simply suffering the well-known affliction of freelance guilt? A disorder that leads to daily self-reproach for just about everything – not being productive enough, working too little, having time off, not using every minute of the day to work, not doing enough admin – gosh the list is endless! With no formal set ‘desk hours’, you feel you should be working 24/7 or you are not working hard enough and wasting time.

If you manage to finish work at 4.30pm, you are wracked with guilt that you should be doing more – despite the fact you started at 7am, missed lunch and are on top of everything (well as on top as you will ever be!). It’s the weekends that get me – you can never really switch off. If a client needs you, you are there. You continue to work on that project so if other new work comes in, you are able to handle it. Be prepared – gosh, my Brownie Guide past rearing its ugly head too!

These feelings of guilt are ridiculous. So, come on fellow freelancers why don’t we just give ourselves a break and enjoy our style of work and moments of free time. Isn’t this one of the reasons we decided to go freelance – to have flexibility?

Look at it this way, add up the minutes in the day that you would ‘waste’ going to work in a ‘traditional’ office - by the way, I am not bagging office workers at all, it is just an illustration. I am trying to stop the mass run of freelancers to the confessional box to declare ‘bad use of work time!” Here are some reasons we should rejoice and banish all future guilt.

  • We don’t have to travel to work. We cut an average 30-45-minute commute each way to 30 seconds (depending how large your house/apartment is), saving an average of 1hr – 1hr 30mins a day.

  • We aren’t distracted by colleagues for a casual chat or irrelevant banter. That might save around 30 mins in a day, if not more on occasions.

  • We can avoid unnecessary hour-long meetings that could have been dealt with by a 5-minute email, saving 55 mins.

  • We can escape from a lunch with colleagues giving us more time to get on with work. Do we ever take an hour off for lunch when working from home (well maybe if we are behind on a Game of Thrones episode!).

  • Doing our own accounts, invoicing and admin etc all take time. We don’t have anyone to do it for us so it may not feel like you are not doing proper work but if you don’t do it, you will not be paid or have a business!

  • We don’t have office parties, birthday celebrations, farewell events and team building sessions throughout the year. If you actually factor these in there are plenty of days taken out not doing client work. As much fun as these can be, us freelancers don’t have them so we have every right to have the odd early finish, day off etc. See it as personal self-building of sanity!

  • We don’t get sick days or vacation days – we can take them but know we won’t get paid so it is either death or a holiday to a no Wi-Fi destination before we really switch off, as we have no choice.

  • You take emails and calls anytime of the day or night. Clients call at all hours to tell you something that could be left until the next day – but dealing with that is a whole other Pandora’s box!

You work all hours. You don’t stop at 6pm (well, if you did stop before then you would feel guilty, wouldn’t you?!). The client gets back to you at 8pm and then 10pm and you reply. You start the work and your mind starts whirring. You think “If I get this done now it will save me some time tomorrow and I will able to maybe finish a bit earlier.” But then we all know that if you do, by some miracle, finish early you will feel guilty for doing so and the cycle repeats itself!

Seriously, we all work hard. We are all dedicated and love what we do, or we would not be doing it. I loved the social aspect of being in an office but seriously freelance has changed my view of work and life and I would not change that for the world. So, guilt be banished.

I deserve any time off I can squeeze in and so should you! Enjoy!

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