Be Free – Be Flexible

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You may have noticed that this blog post has been uploaded slightly late. You may not have realised and perhaps may not actually care? It’s all down to being flexible.

I hadn’t written a blog this week due to having my head in some OU coursework. I haven’t finished it yet, but when you have to write, you have to write (I’m taking a Creative Writing course). It’s good to take time out to do something you really enjoy and luckily I have the kind of job where I can schedule time away to catch up on coursework.

That’s the joy of being freelance.

It’s sometimes difficult to take time off when deadlines are tight and looming, but I always try to add in a few days off here and there to recharge my batteries. It helps to keep things fresh.

If you aren’t freelance it can be difficult to understand just how flexible your day can be. For instance when I worked in the University library I would have loved a 10 a.m. start (even though we were on flexi-time), but that’s what I do now. I rarely start work before ten because I know my concentration doesn’t kick in until my second cup of coffee and a look at the day’s social media (or Heir Hunters if it’s on – I’m a genealogist as well as an editor, it’s valid to watch this programme before starting work, honest).

So, for a bit of enlightenment here was today’s schedule:

more coffee please

Coffee. Just. Coffee.

Check out social media and the OU module forums. Read some wonderful stories and worry that mine aren’t as good.

Sort out some paperwork for Thurso Players. They are a local amateur dramatic society (for want of a better phrase), and I am their Secretary. A bunch of paperwork has landed in my lap, which needs sorting out sooner rather than later. This takes an hour.

Get down to work. Phone some contacts for a client and arrange a couple of interviews for a book we are working on. Realise that one of the interviews will necessitate a day away from the office (it’s fab being so remote sometimes). Have a chat with client.

Work, with coffee.

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Head off out. There is no food in the house and a sale on at New Look. Spend too long and too much  at the clothes shop, then way too long and way too much buying the groceries. Grab a sandwich.

Head back home (it’s a 30 minute drive to our nearest large supermarket), then spend another half hour putting away the groceries.

Switch on the laptop to find out an OU assignment is ready to be picked up. Head to website, download results, do a happy dance then read the tutor’s remarks.

Reply to a couple of work emails.

Remember to write this blog.

It’s now past five and I’m getting ready to call it a day – I’m due at our theatre tonight. Every Friday I head off, from about 7 to 10.30 p.m., to be a responsible adult and watch over a load of excited kids intent on making as much noise as possible while learning drama and theatre techniques. It keeps me out of mischief.

So that’s just one day. As you can see there is a little work in there, but I had to be flexible. The shopping needed to be done and voluntary work needed my attention. Tomorrow I shall put in some work hours to make up for the hours away today. Monday will be all work. But if it’s a nice day I may go for a drive (perhaps to John O’Groats for lunch), then work into the evening.

time is money

If you prefer a rigid working life, clocking in and out at the beginning and end of each day, freelance life may not be for you. If, like me, you like variety and the chance to head out if you fancy and to rework your schedule, perhaps work in the evening or the occasional weekend (if YOU chose to, not if demanded by clients), then freelance life can be wonderful.

2 thoughts on “Be Free – Be Flexible

  1. Your ‘typical’ day sounds a lot like one of mine, Sara. During school term time, my day begins by getting three kids off to school by 8am. After that I head to the office, coffee in hand, start by checking Facebook, LinkedIn and my emails, and then I begin work. But my day of work is interspersed with trips to the kitchen to get more coffee or, if I feel so inclined, to bake a cake, put on a couple more loads of washing, check out the garden, an occasional hour at the gym or walking the dog. Every so often I volunteer an hour or two at one of the schools or meet with a client or attend a networking lunch, and a few times a year I spend a whole day at a PD workshop. After 4pm the family returns from their day so I am back to feeding them, running them to various after school activities etc. until about 8pm when the dishwasher’s loaded and I head back to the office to check LinkedIn and Facebook and my emails once more, and perhaps fit in another hour or two of work (if I’m chasing deadlines). Bottom line, no two days are the same – every day is slightly different in one way or another. I also work on weekends – although I try to make this non-billable work such as administrative tasks, study, working out quotes or doing invoices. My billable hours in any given week can range from about 10 to about 60. If I have to, I can work almost through the night two or three nights in a row (although I don’t tend to do this as much since I gave up academic editing!). As you say, I can imagine that freelancing is not for everyone and it does take focus and discipline. I like that I can be there for my family when they need me, but the challenge is not to put your business too far down the priority list and get the work done when you need to. The even bigger challenge is to look after yourself as well. Working from home can be isolating so it’s important to get dressed and get out at least for a little while each day.

    • Yup, that sounds about right, although now my daughter is studying at home I don’t have a hectic school run (just taxi driver for my husband now). And I’ve never been one of the pyjama brigade. I’ve never worked through the night, but on occasion I have found that working from, say, 9 to 11 at night has been very productive.
      It’s the discipline that can be a killer, especially in the summer when the sun is shining!

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