I struggle with this myth as a freelancer so much! When someone is a freelancer, it somehow makes others think that they have lots of free time. Of course, to a degree, I do. I work smarter, not longer, so to speak.
The thing is, you still have to work. Even if you do only work 5 hours a day, those 5 hours have to be uninterrupted. Presently, I work 2.5-3 hours every morning with VIPKID. During that time, I cannot schedule anything else. I then have writing work to complete, which typically takes between 3 and four hours a day Monday through Thursday.
The difference in my approach to work makes it seem like I have more time than I do. Instead of working my 40 hours at a 9 to 5 between Monday and Friday, it’s over the course of seven days. For example, my Monday might take me 7 hours, Tuesday might be 6, Wednesday may be 5 and Thursday may be 5. Friday is typically a 6-hour day with VIPKID, but from 7 in the morning until 10 and then from 9 pm to midnight, so it doesn’t seem like I work at all to many people. On Saturday and Sunday, I work between 1.5 and 2 hours a day.
In total, I end up working around 32 to 33 hours a week with my online jobs (give or take a few hours) The other 7 to 8 hours I spend ends up being time spent illustrating or working on blogs. Freelancing doesn’t always bring in money right away, and it takes time to build up a following and to market yourself.
The interesting thing with how I work is that the times I work are not straightforward. For instance, on that long 7-hour Monday, I work three hours as soon as I wake up. Then, I take a break for some of the afternoon to take care of our dogs and to get errands done. By 4 or 5 pm, I sit down to write out my work. When that’s written (typically by 7 pm), I sit down and relax until 10 or so, until I upload the word to a platform. I take the time off in between so that I can edit with a fresh pair of eyes later.
The point of explaining the difference in my work layout is to say that yes, it does mean my schedule is flexible, and lots of freelancers probably do have flexible schedules as well. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to meet deadlines or that we won’t have days where we absolutely cannot stray from work. Even if we take off a day, we still have to make it up later.
It can be hard to explain to someone that you really don’t have time when they see you out and about at random hours of the day, but they’re not seeing the whole picture. You eating lunch out might be part of an hour-long break you planned. Seeing you at the mall might be due to an assignment you need to complete. Freelancing isn’t always what it seems.
How do I try to explain it to others? I’ve, frankly, just told them I have to work. I tell them I work certain hours in the morning and evening specifically, and I’ll let them know if I have a particularly heavy week. When they ask me to do something during the day, I do let them know if it means I have to rearrange my schedule or take a day off and work the work back into my schedule the following day. In other words, be straightforward. The other person isn’t seeing the whole picture, so it’s up to you to make it clear.
How do you explain how busy you are? Leave me a comment below.