Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Freelancing is quickly taking over the world. In fact, 35% of the American workforce is freelancing in one way or another. There are several contributing factors to this stat and not all of them are good. A decent amount of people freelancing are doing so because full-time traditional work is not available to them or because they need to supplement their income simply to make ends meet.
The other, less depressing, side to freelancing is millions of individuals realizing they can chase their dreams and forge their own paths where once they wouldn’t have been able to. I am one such person. My husband and I both have college degrees. He was able to find a stable but modest state job working for Ohioans with Disabilities shortly after graduating college; a job that brings him a great deal of personal fulfillment.
I did not find such a position for myself.
Not because I was being passed up for jobs or anything uncool like that. Simply because I was not able to find a job that made sense for what I wanted out of life. Mainly, being able to remain home with my daughter. I stumbled across freelancing, almost on a whim, in 2017 and I could not be happier. I have been able to stay home with my daughter and grow what is now a full-fledged business,; LLC and all.
It is truly a dream come true.
However; just because I’m literally living my dream doesn’t mean it’s been easy. There is a steep learning curve when working for yourself, from home, with a five year old, who you’ve chosen to homeschool.
So naturally I turned to the world wide web and social media for all the inspiration on how to do it “right”. And let me tell you there is no shortage of advice. The lesson I had to learn the hard way was that all good advice isn’t good advice. At least not for me. For a while I was convinced in order to be a “boss babe”, “business mama”, “momprenuer”, or whatever other buzzword you prefer, I had to follow a certain set of rules.
Big mistake. Big. Huge. (Shameless Pretty Woman reference.)
There is nothing wrong with conventional work-at-home advice and I am sure it has helped many a frazzled small business owner master their schedule and throw productivity around like confetti. Just not me. And I’m not lying when I say this truth was a hard truth for me to grasp.
I struggled for so long to make it work the “right way”. I tried to establish business hours, I tried to create a dedicated office space, I tried to work when my daughter was asleep, I tried to do all the things. And when it clearly wasn’t working, I told myself I wasn’t trying hard enough and I tried harder.
Then one day I was sitting at my desk, in my closet (yes, literally my first office was an oversized coat closet), at 8:00am exhausted and trying to drum up enough motivation to write client content and I realized I was an idiot. This wasn’t going to work. I was wasting more time trying to motivate myself and set my space than it would have taken me to write the content 3 times over later that afternoon. So I quit and I took a nap in front of Little Einsteins.
The next morning I slept in, I worked on the couch, I took a break in the middle of the day to bake cookies with my little and I even worked after dinner -in the living room, while my husband and daughter were watching some kid’s cooking show.
I know, I know. What a shitty mother.
But here’s the thing. I don’t care. And you shouldn’t either. If you’re struggling to make something work whether its a routine, best practice, or any other form of good advice and it isn’t working, just stop. Are you maximizing your productivity if you’re forcing yourself to be productive at a time you aren’t naturally productive?
And don’t even get me started on that working when your kids sleeps nonsense. So like never. You want me to work never. Or stay up all night while my five-year old snores in the next room and just so I can cosplay as a zombie the next day in a feeble attempt to appear to “be present” rather than have a computer on.
No thank you. That’s a hard pass.
I work when she is awake, she sees me work and she knows there are certain times when I’m working that she needs to entertain herself. And for us that works. I believe it shows her that there is a time for work and a time for play. I also strongly believe it can’t hurt her to see her mom pouring a large amount of energy into something that isn’t legos or laundry.
I also work nights, weekends, holidays and sometimes even all at the same time. I am basically never “off” but to the same extent I am basically never working either. Which is why my office is now smack dab in the center of our family room. I seamlessly transition from working to not working in less than a second and I do it a million times a day.
That is how it has to be with me. I have to be able to answer when a client or employee needs me just as much as I need to be able to stop at a moment’s notice to go for a walk because my little one is (literally) bouncing off the walls and it’s randomly nice outside.
Maybe for you that’s not the case. Maybe you love all the advice. Maybe you work specific business hours, in a dedicated office space, your calendar is perfectly blocked and you have time for yoga after your raw power salad lunch everyday. Great! I hate you, but great.
But if that isn’t you and you are just a human struggling to do the right thing while being pulled in two different directions by the work you love and the people you love more, consider taking a step back and just reexamining your situation.
Are you working in a way that makes the most sense for YOU? Or are you trying to check all the good girl/boy boxes in the proverbial “how to run a small business checklist’?
Because doing what you love is great but if you don’t figure out how to do it in a way that you love you won’t love it for long.