I Love Freelancing - Here's Why You Might Too

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“Once you get into The Routine, you get used to it.”

Ah, The Routine. 

There’s not much to it, really. It simply means that on weekdays, you go to bed at a Reasonable Time, so you can get up at a Reasonable Time, to be at the place you need to be, bright eyed and bushy tailed, for approximately 9 a.m. 

From a young age, I’ve been struck by how so many slip into The Routine as if it were a second skin. It’s only recently that I’ve realised that The Routine isn’t a one-size-fits-all. It’s a one-size-fits-most, maybe. But not all. Some of us just aren’t wired that way.

Those who can do, and indeed, enjoy The Routine will tell you – time and time again – that you ‘just need to get into it’. For lots of people, this advice is probably quite reassuring. If you’re like me and have a sleeping disorder, however, hearing this familiar line will make you feel a bit like throwing something, or perhaps screaming briefly into a pillow. 

I have something called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. Bit of a mouthful, but all it really means is that I naturally wake up later than most people and go to sleep later than most people. For a good chunk of the daytime, I am Second Rate Me: a slowly blinking shadow who trips over her own feet and fluffs up her sentences. It isn’t until the evening, really, that I start to switch on and sharpen up. I normally start winding down at about 3 a.m. I try to be asleep by 4 a.m. Occasionally I’ll get to sleep a bit earlier. More often than not, it’s later. 

As you might imagine, this doesn’t make me particularly well-suited to the schedule that dictates the active hours of most offices, shops and schools. Perhaps I sound like another entitled millennial, but after spending nearly a decade and a half at school in a kind of fatigued, delirious haze, I was tired of being tired. My body clock flatly refuses to adapt to The Routine. It doesn’t understand what a Reasonable Time is.

But none of that matters anymore, because I freelance. I don’t have to ‘get it into it’. I’ve got around it. I work when I want (normally at a highly unreasonable hour). And it works a treat. While it’s certainly a pretty dreamy gig for those who are like me, and love nothing more than to burn the midnight oil until dawn before enjoying a long, luxurious lie in, don’t worry – a sleeping disorder isn’t a prerequisite. Chances are, if you’re in the Marketing, Digital, or Creative sector, you could do it too.

The very fact that the job title itself has the word ‘free’ in it should be a bit of a giveaway for a lot of the benefits. When you opt to duck out of the daily grind, you opt to not only liberate yourself from the normal working schedule, but a lot of the normal problems that come with it. 

Here are some choice grievances of the regular working world that just don’t apply to freelancers:

  • This client is a nightmare”.Not a problem. You don’t have an employer on your case, emphasising the importance of keeping them sweet. Shut the relationship down pronto and tell them go to hell while you’re at it (just kidding, don’t do that. It’s probably not great for your reputation. But still, it’s quite nice to know that there’s no one to fire you if you do. If you feel like you want to wrap up your working relationship with someone who you just can’t see eye to eye with, there’s nothing to stop you).
  • “I’m always so tired in the week”.See rest of article.
  • “Between work and the commute, I never seem to have the time to exercise or pursue any of my interests”. YOU, on the other hand, have all the time in the world. You can get up, work for 3 hours, amble (yes, amble) to a spin class, come home, and work for another 3 hours. You can then bake a gâteau, or tend lovingly to your garden, or do whatever non-office appropriate hobby that gives you a warm, fuzzy sense of fulfilment and inner peace. Mine is hula hooping.
  • “I’m getting fed up with doing the same thing all the time.” Not when you freelance. You’re not in the same space 5 days a week. You might work part time for a couple of businesses or take on a temporary project before moving on to the next. This means that you get to shake things up on a regular basis, broadening your contacts and allowing you to have a more lateral experience of the working world than most.
  • “I can’t focus for long periods of time without needing a break”. Totally fine – in fact, social scientists have worked out that the optimum period for human concentration is 52 minutes, followed by a 17-minute break. This would be tricky to justify within an office environment, as the same rule would need to be applied to everyone. When you freelance, however, you can break up your time into manageable chunks, so you can work at your optimum level of focus over a longer period without appearing to shirk your responsibilities.
  • “I just feel like I’m never out the office”. Ha HA! You’re never in the office, more like (I do try and get into the Gleeson offices once a week, mind, largely because they’re cool and teeming with lively, charming people that I’m fond of). But seriously; you can work pretty much wherever. A park, a submarine, Paris, Swindon. All you need is your laptop, after all. 

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/science-tells-you-how-many-minutes-should-you-take-a-break-for-work-17/380369/

Credit - Clare Toner