Everyone was thrilled for me last year when I announced I was leaving my stable job in the nonprofit world to pursue a career as a freelance writer. I soon realized that my friends and family thought “work from home” was code for “does nothing at home.”
Here’s an example of my day:
7 a.m. Drag myself out of bed to get my daughter off to school.
8:30 a.m. Check for articles while my coffee is brewing. I secure one, but the phone rings before I can even type one word. My sister is having dental surgery and her husband got called in to work. I leave immediately to pick her up without drinking my coffee.
12:30 p.m. The answering machine is blinking when I get home. “Where are you? I forgot my math homework. Can you please bring it when you have lunch with me?” I forgot it’s Monday, the day I have lunch with my daughter at school. I head back out with her homework in hand.
1:45 p.m.: I barely knock out 100 words when my mom calls to see how my sister’s surgery went. She’s calling me because she didn’t want to disturb her. Then my husband calls to remind me to schedule the septic tank maintenance and that he’s out of clean underwear.
2:10 p.m. I throw in a load of laundry and then check my email. A former co-worker sends me an instant message and I fight the urge to get sucked into office gossip. I grab another article from a love list, which fills up all of my available slots.
3 p.m. The mailman rings the doorbell. A neighbor sees us and comes over to show off her dog’s new hairstyle. Both are very chatty, but I keep the conversation short and get back to work.
3:15 p.m. I submit the article and immediately pick up another one, keeping my slots full.
4 p.m. I’m still doing research, but it’s time to pick up my daughter and take her to gymnastics. Then comes dinner, homework, bath and bedtime.
9 p.m.: After chatting with my husband for a few minutes, it’s back to work.
1 a.m.: I finally go to bed. I wrote only four articles and am about $50 short of my financial goal for the day, which means I’ll be doing some more late nights this week. I’ve got to pay for that septic tank maintenance I forgot to schedule!
Most of my days were like this in the beginning. I love the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, but had to set boundaries in order to get any work done. I told people who called to chat that I was working and explained to my family that my job wasn’t to do chores and errands. I had to be firm and repeat myself several times. Some of my days still look like that, but it’s no longer every day.
Rachael M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.