Thursday, January 21, 2010

Opportunity or Time Suck?

The Gainfully Unemployed (aka self-employed/freelancer) is often a plate spinner, scurrying about to keep multiple projects aloft.  Sometimes knowing which projects to accept or stick with can be a challenge...will the time and effort invested pay off in sufficient cash or other compensation such as networking value, personal satisfaction, beneficial knowledge or useful experience?  If I pass on a project, will I be glad or feel like I missed out?  If I've worked with an organization for years, should I continue or move on?

Acting, for example, is one field where many projects don't pay in money.  The rewards of exposure, experience and working with fabulous people can be worth the time.  On the one hand, I'm rehearsing weekly with a newly formed improv team.  Benefits include working with a coach (with whom, coincidentally, I was on a team at iO many years ago) as opposed to being self-directed.  I'm continuing to learn about and practice the art of improv, laughing a lot, and gaining performance opportunities---our first is already scheduled.  The goal is to get paid down the road. 

On the other, I recently declined to perform in a sketch show.  Though there would have been four performances to invite agents and others to attend and another credit for my resume, the director wanted to hold more than 20 rehearsals in 6 weeks....IMO too much of a time commitment for perceived benefits.  Yet if the show goes well, more performances could be scheduled...should I have stuck with it?

I do some writing and miscellaneous projects for another show.  Most of these can be done on my own time.  Recently I was asked to take on an ongoing social media project.  I'll be meeting with the director next week to discuss in detail.  Do I spend enough time on this show already, or should I take the opportunity to gain experience in the burgeoning online community which many freelance/part-time jobs I come across now expect applicants to have? 

I performed in an annual musical revue for 20 years.  I looked forward to the two-week daily rehearsal period and hanging out with the cast.  But there came a point when I needed to take paying gigs instead of devoting so many hours to a free production.  A tough choice, but ultimately the right one. 

I'm involved with two associations that require many devoted volunteers to produce programs, activities, publications, etc.  I want to help because they need it and the tasks are usually interesting or fun.  But when I agreed to judge three writing contests recently, I made the mistake of not checking the deadlines...and wound up with 14 entries at once.  Enjoyable, yes.  Helpful to the organizations, yes.  But also a current time suck. 

How do you know when, as they sing about Kansas City in the musical Oklahoma, things have "gone about as fur as they can go?" 

1 comment:

EilisFlynn said...

Does it feel like it's worth your time, or do you feel like your patience is being tried, your time is being stolen, and basically, you're being taken advantage of? Then it's a time suck, as far as I'm concerned. Unless you truly enjoy it, in which case it's worth it. IMHO.