Do you experience feelings of guilt when you take breaks during the day or end your work day early? Do you feel like you’re not doing your part as a hard-working American? Do those around you judge you for your flexible lifestyle, acting like you’re lazy and selfish? Or do you assume they do? If you have one or more of these symptoms, you might be suffering from the very real condition of freelance guilt.
Sure, many of us do work full-time hours, or even overtime, but it’s possible to make a great income on part-time hours. And if you do, there’s no reason to feel guilty about it. In actuality, freelance writers can see working less in a different way. It can be a benefit of the job if you choose to make it one. And after all, we don’t have many of those in our job description!
Here are some simple reasons why you should let go of your freelance guilt and turn your flexible hours into a job benefit:
1. Wasted Time: One of the biggest problems I had with an office job was all the time that was wasted. When I was trying to work, co-workers and even bosses would come talk to me about inane things, and sometimes I would do the same to them. I went to meetings where I felt like little or nothing productive was achieved (I’m not the only one who feels that way about meetings). Also, I would need a mental break and end up on social media or engaging in other time wasters.
Throughout the course of a day, these combined distractions took up a huge chunk of the day and made me wonder why I had to be at work so long. I would still get my work done, so why did I have to be there for a set eight hours if I could complete the job in less? Then you have to factor in time getting ready for work and driving to and from work. If you take out all of that time spent on things that are unnecessary, you can have more time for other things. That’s how you can use your time when you work from home – it’s in your control.
2. More to Life: While you could think about how much more work you could accomplish with more productive time or with a 40-hour-or-more work week (which is fine if that’s your choice), another option is to consider that there are other things you could do with your more flexible schedule. You could have more work-life balance. More time to take care of responsibilities and for your family, your hobbies, your personal writing endeavors and maybe some volunteer work. It’s up to you.
3. Time Off: As freelancers, we don’t get built-in sick and vacation days. We don’t even have set days off during the week or breaks during the day. If we want them, we have to take them. Instead of feeling guilty, think about all the breaks and days off built into a “real job.” It’s reasonable for you to build time off into yours as well.
4. Total Time: As a freelancer, it’s easy to underestimate the number of hours you work, so you might be putting in more time than you think. Did you really work six hours when you estimated four? And don’t forget about all the time you spent communicating with clients, following up with payments, cultivating new assignments and so on. Give yourself credit where it’s due.
These are just some of the reasons you shouldn’t feel guilty about finishing your work in less than 40 hours — maybe you can come up with more for yourself. If you still feel guilty, then stick to working 40 hours a week. Then you can feel like you did your part and tell your “real job” friends that you put in your time too. But as long as you’re meeting your goals, there’s no reason not to feel satisfied and accomplished with however many hours it takes you to reach them.
Sharon T enjoys creative writing, and she is currently working on a young adult fantasy novel.