Monday, August 24, 2015

The Problem of Timing

Wow, I've done a terrible job at keeping this blog updated. Blame the pile of work I've been getting through!

Speaking of which...

I had few illusions when I became self-employed. I have been lucky enough to know enough entrepreneurs and freelancers that I never expected a cakewalk, watching hours of soap operas or eating cookies all day. I always knew it was going to be tough.

But of course, it's tough in ways I hadn't predicted, and in some ways that are the very opposite of some of my main reasons for striking out on my own in the first place.

When and how much to work is chief among these. When you're self-employed, there's no such thing as sick leave or vacation. You can take time off, sure, but you don't get paid.

I knew this, and I was prepared for it. "I'll work more around the times I want to take time off," I thought.

Ha! Hahahahahahahahaha, what a naive little creature I was.

The thing is (especially in the first year of your full-time business), your clients don't care one whit for your schedule. They want what they want when they want it, which is often on Sunday, or by midnight tonight, or in three hours. And when they don't have any wants, you don't have any work. They can go for weeks at a time (even months or years?) without wanting anything from you, and without giving you warning.

So I can't bring myself to turn down that weekend/late night/right away work, even though it causes me a lot of stress, because I know that I'll go for days sometime without working any billable hours. When work is available, I snatch it up, because I never know when the next drought will be. And I'm still recovering from some seriously lean periods from the past few months.

The constant fear of running out of money permeates a lot of my decisions. I suspect it's this way for many freelancers, especially those of us just starting out.

So, sound off! Do you take work you don't really want to do because you're worried work won't be there when you want it? Do you let fear make your decisions for you? Have you somehow put this behind you, and if so, how? I'd love to hear your thoughts!