— October 25, 2017
One of the biggest perks of being self-employed and working as a freelancer is the flexibility this type of work provides. You can set your own hours, choose your own rates, and even decide when you work as long as you meet your deadlines.
Having this type of freedom and flexibility is pretty awesome. It’s what I longed for when I was tied down to a 9-5 job and dreading the fact that I had to ask my boss for permission to leave the office early for a doctor’s appointment.
However, after freelancing full-time for over a year, I realize that having this type of flexibility can actually be somewhat harmful. Here are 3 ways flexibility can harm freelancers and how to avoid these types of setbacks.
1. Not Having Enough Dedicated Time to Work
When you have the freedom to create your own schedule, there’s really nothing outside of your own willpower stopping you from falling off track with your work. Yes, you can sleep in if you want to.
You can decide to go for a walk in the middle of the afternoon, attend a field trip during the school day with your child, take your dog to the vet, or have a 2-hour lunch just because you want to.
However, if you let extreme flexibility become your daily routine, you won’t really have a structured routine anymore and that means less time for work. Unfortunately, freelancers can’t just do what they want whenever they want. They still have to set aside enough time to work and defend their work day from common distractions.
I get up at 6:30 a.m. each day because I have to in order to complete all my freelance work for the day along with the other tasks on my to-do list. Even if you’re traveling often, you still need to set aside enough time that you can dedicate to your actual work.
2. Flexibility Can Harm Freelancers by Giving Yourself Too Much Time to Work
On the flip side, some freelancers may find flexibility a curse because it means you can work at all hours and heavily extend your workday. While I try to get most of my work completed during the day, I personally still struggle with putting my laptop down during the evening when I’m supposed to be relaxing and spending time with my family.
It’s important to realize that just because you can work around the clock doesn’t mean you have to. Everyone deserves a break and you shouldn’t feel obligated to overwork yourself just because your schedule is flexible.
Set specific working or “office hours” and commit to shutting down and disconnecting outside of those hours. Communicate with clients that you won’t be able to respond to email at all hours and stop feeling guilty for not getting everything done each day. At the end of the day, there will always be something else that needs to be done and that’s a good thing.
3. Not Being Able to Finish Important Anything
As a freelancer, you have to be really good with managing your time. If you’re enjoying flexibility too much and have a choppy work schedule, it can be frustrating when you never seem to be able to complete anything.
Even if you’re good with meeting client deadlines, you may feel a sense of failure when you’re unable to complete any other tasks for your business as you continue to procrastinate on them because you have no idea what your schedule will look like in the coming weeks.
Again, try to focus on establishing some type of structure and a loose schedule that you can follow in order to meet your goals. Commit to knocking out a few small tasks per day in order to stay on track with meeting your larger goal.
Flexibility for freelancers can be a blessing or a curse. It’s best to enjoy the flexibility you have without taking it too far so it doesn’t damage your workflow and profit.