Thursday, October 20, 2011

Work before play?

Some freelancers justify playing instead of working by saying they became a freelancer so they didn’t have to clock in at an office or report to a boss. They may sleep in, take long lunches, and/or spend hours on personal pursuits. Maybe some can wile away the hours but still earn a good living and save. Others may choose or defensively rationalize getting less done and earning less than their full potential.

I tend to believe that because I’m a freelancer, I should work more than 9 to 5. And to me work includes preparing for the future of my career and for retirement, not just finishing jobs on deadline. Particularly in this economy…when so many who want to be gainfully employed aren’t, I’m even more grateful for every paying gig.

While the “work first” approach helps keep money and projects coming in, it can also lead to working too many hours a day. Yet even as my eyes blur from staring at waveforms and words on my monitor, I think about putting more irons in the fire. I wonder if I should take a break from any enjoyable but “free” pursuits such as improv teams, committees or chorus. Instead of going out on a given night, should I conserve energy for a busy tomorrow?

Bookings can be last minute. I’ve gotten emails after 9PM the night before, one as late as 11:20PM. Of course I can say I’m not available, but I’d rather not turn down a client...even if I already had a lot on tap that day. Fortunately a lot of my work happens to be fun, but that isn’t quite the same as actual play or relaxing.

Perhaps at times I put more pressure on myself to be productive than I need to. But if I don’t, who will? 

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