I am a writer. I always have been but I pretended to be some other things along the way like a systems administrator and a financial planner. Somewhere along the line I got it into my head that I had to have a “real” job in addition to being a writer, the way aspiring actors also have to be waiters or something.
When events made going into business for myself as a freelance writer too attractive to pass up, I made the leap to full-time freelance writing and have never looked back. Now, I do what I love, even if sometimes I don’t love the specific assignment.
However, this makes for one interesting life quirk. When you love to do something, you do it for pleasure as a leisure activity, but when it is also what you do for a living, where do you draw the line between work and play?
You might be asking why it matters. The answer is that for both yourself and for your family life, blurring the line between what is work and what is play can create some confusion. Does writing articles for this blog, which I like doing, count as work?
On one hand, this blog draws attention to Arctic Llama and our freelance writing services, so it should count as marketing the business, which of course is work. On the other hand, the blog generates no revenue, most of our business comes from us proactively seeking it out and then getting repeat business from satisfied clients. I can count on one hand the number of clients who have contacted us out of the blue after reading our website.
(For the most part, a freelance writer’s website serves more as a resource for prospective clients who are already potentially interested in your writing services than as a way for potential clients to discover you.)
What about some of our other endeavors that I really enjoy doing that do make some money but aren’t the gigs that pay the bills? If I spend 3 hours in the evening writing for them is that part of my work day, or is that part of my play time?
Thankfully, I’m not alone in this world. I have a wonderful family. As it turns out, I also love spending time with them. I also have responsibilities like making sure my daughter eats lunch (and breakfast, and dinner), getting the sprinklers fixed, and getting the oil changed in the car. With a 9 to 5 job, breaking out the hours in a day is easier. If you are in an office from 7 to 5 every day, then obviously you can’t be building new Play Dough molds at 2 in the afternoon. Splitting up your play time, chore time, family time, and so on means just looking at that block of time from when you come home to when you go to bed.
As a work from home freelance writer, that line disappears quickly. I still have to ensure that I get work done on time and meet client deadlines, but if that is all you do, success will come slowly. There is also marketing, prospecting, administrative tasks, long-term projects, new initiatives to research and roll out and so on.
With the lines between personal and professional smudged beyond recognition, when is it time to put it away and focus on something else? If you spend 11 hours in your office and barely see the sun for a week or two you’ll start to feel a little “off” and when that happens it gets even harder to know just how to schedule your time.
How do you justify "taking a little time off” if what you’ve been doing the last week was so much fun you sneak down to your basement office when you can’t sleep at night and end up writing until 4:00 AM?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but I have noticed that the lack of hard, black and white, lines between personal fun and professional work makes for some odd time management choices.
Do you freelance? How do you handle being done for the day when you don’t mind working a little longer?