The freelance work week; on owning your time

It has been sweltering hot. Today there is some respite, but my lovely flat that keeps me so warm in winter does little to provide respite from a heatwave. There is work to be done, but I feel tired from the heat-disturbed sleep and foggy headed from humidity. “If only I could take time off from work due to it being too darn hot” I daydream. Until I realise I can. My freelance work week is mine to create.

See, I haven’t quite got my head around my time being my own as a freelancer. It’s an alien concept, to not have set work hours or have to work a certain number of hours per day. I still largely stick to a 9-5 schedule, and to start I thought that’s because that works for me. Now I’m wondering if that’s true, or if I’ve just been conditioned into having those working hours.

On her podcast ‘Make it Happen’, episode Redefining Your Work Week Jen Carrington discusses the importance of identifying the working day myths we bind ourselves to. I think one of mine is that I have to work 9-5, 5 days a week to really feel I’ve had a ‘working week’. Which, obviously, is ridiculous. How many people waste at least half a day if not a more in their office jobs simply surfing the Internet, on social media and chatting to colleagues? Weddings, holidays, and whole lives get planned in the office. Clearly 9-5 is a façade.

Logically I know that it simply needs to come down to what work needs to get done this week, and how long it takes to do it. Beyond that nothing should matter. But I still feel myself filling the hours, compelled to do more, and not knowing when enough is enough.

I want to figure this out, though. Because the life I want is one where I’m fulfilled by the work I do, and also happy in the life I lead. Where the two are intertwined, my work fuelled by my pursuits in my life. You can’t have a life if you’re working all the time. So, as I sit here in the heat, I’m wondering how to go about doing this.

My Happiness Project resolution ‘effort where it really matters’ should help reduce wasted time, but outside of that what else? I’ve already identified working in the evenings is no good for me, and I find myself needing 3 days off per week ideally. So that’s a start. I plan my week’s priorities every Sunday, but I think perhaps my longer term planning can be of use here. Clearly identifying the month’s goals – perhaps aided by a 3 month plan – should help me break down my weeks, and know what’s a priority.

Figuring out the ideal working week is tricky, but I hope I’ll get there through trial and error. For now this is about all my heat-addled brain can handle. Do you have any tips on figuring out your ideal working week as a freelancer? I’d love to hear them!

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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