Freelance Writing vs. the Spouse (or Significant Other)
If there’s one thing a person learns in a relationship that lasts for any period of time, especially a serious one that becomes long-term or a marriage, it’s the fact that time will always seem to be in short supply. And a freelance writer likely feels this tension more than others who just work a regular 8-to-5 job.
There’s no question that the freelancer works when the work comes in. It’s often a life or part-time job of feast and famine, working like a dog when jobs are plenty and then scrapping for assignments and projects when things get tight. Whatever the case, the work takes time to do, even just a few articles a day, and that loss of time can be a source of friction in a serious relationship. Add in the element of kids as well, and now there’s a pressure cooker for complaints.
The story goes a bit like this: the extra income is good and helps everyone out, but the writer never seems to have enough time for the partner or the kids, always working and having to meet deadlines. This is a classic case of too much priority put on work at the expense of the home life, and even freelance writers have to figure out how to find a balance while paying the bills.
A lot of the problem has to do with planning. Freelancers often juggle a core job with their extra work, and then a family life as well. As regimented as it sounds, one of the best ways to find balance is to plan it out on a calendar. Google Calendar is a real good tool for this sort of task because it can be set up with multiple planning calendars that can be combined or seen separately. With a bit of color-coding, one can map out deadlines, dates, times and gaps fairly quickly. And a bit of daily discipline updating keeps it running smoothly.
The second step involves getting the rest of the household to cooperate with the planning. By convincing a spouse or partner and children, if they apply, to help with planning ahead, a lot of conflict and last minute juggling can be avoided. Weekends can be mapped out as well as evenings in terms of what has to get done along with life balance. Some partners might be offended at first at the idea of having to plan their time, but it just takes a bit of getting used to. Further, it saves a relationship from a whole lot of arguments that come out of frustration at the last minute.
You don’t want to be in a position of telling your partner they need to wait because you have to work, but that’s in effect what planning does, in a nice way. By scoping out time for everyone, your time management makes it possible to do the impossible – obtain a life balance. Things change over the years, and you will still need to juggle, but you will also avoid a lot of fights and hurt that are not necessary.
Tom L has been married for 17 years, has two kids, and still writes dozens of articles every week. And he still finds time to BBQ once in a while.