People think that freelancers have all this “FREE TIME” to frivolously throw away on things that enhance the handout-asker’s career and does nothing at all of value for the freelancer.
It’s like they think the word freelance equates to “Never works much” like as if we’re hanging out on the beach every day with an umbrella-drink in our hands watching girls surf all day. It makes perfect sense that we’d rather work for you for free, right? :D
Maybe it’s the other way around… Maybe y’all think that freelancers are living large already since we don’t have to work 9-5, so we should somehow feel like doing charity work on the humanitarian tip and donate our time to helping YOU achieve your goals in life.
I probably used to feel the same way before I became a freelancer myself. I can’t remember thinking about the concept much. There were people that had jobs and people that didn’t. When you got off work, you were suddenly ejected into FREE TIME, and until you walked back into the office the next day, you did whatever you wanted or nothing at all.
Same thing for weekends. When you work every weekday, the weekends are your sanctuary… Your time to be YOURSELF! :) .. Your time to do whatever YOU feel like doing. Rendezvous on the Champs-Elysées and all that… Hands in the air, as if you don’t care.
In fact, the concept of “Free Time” is a LUXURY that’s afforded to people that have their lives already planned for them.
I was talking to someone on Friday who asked me what I had planned for the 4th of July (which is today, and it happens to be 7:30am on a Sunday right now and I’m writing a blog post that will be live on my site later today, so get a clue where this article is going), and I shrugged my shoulders and said “Doesn’t make a difference to me.. I’m always on vacation.”
The longer explanation of that statement is that MY concept of “vacation” is probably way different from yours. When I say I’m on vacation, that means I do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. If I’m partying, I’m goin’ all out! :D .. However, If I’m not partying, I’m “working”. I’m never *WASTING* time.
Besides actual work I do for clients, I have a ton of stuff to do every. single. day., not the least of which is managing my online presence. Self-Improvement takes time as well, while I teach myself to RAWK new apps, software & hardware, increasing my arsenal of what I’m bringing to the table for clients. Even partying falls under the category of business, because I’m networking with potential and/or current clients.
Even if I *AM* “sitting on the beach watching the girls surf”, I’m STILL not “doing nothing” because that’s the time that I need to recuperate from whatever I was working on, learning or managing before that and I need to build up strength, determination & reserves for the next round of work or self-improvement.
I remember the exact day and time when I recognized what time it was and hopped up and turbocharged my GRIND! >:D
April 14, 2007 (3 years ago), I was hanging out with a bunch of friends after a day of ultimate frisbee, dinner at a Mexican restaurant and finally drinks @ NYC’s Rodeo Bar.
Somewhere around 3-3:30am, we decided to call it a night and went outside to hail our cabs home. My friend Mike received either a text or voice message on his phone, reads or listens to it and immediately calls someone…..
Next thing I know, Mike’s having a real-time conversation with whomever was on the OVERNIGHT SHIFT of his company, explaining to them that blah blah client has an issue with this and that and it needs to be dealt with immediately.
So I’m standing there like :O because first of all, it’s 3:30 in the morning. Second of all (not that I have anywhere NEAR the level of responsibility that Mike has, but) I don’t answer my phone AT ALL, forget about in the middle of the night, much less actually DO SOMETHING about what the message was, immediately, standing on some NYC street corner.
The issue was quickly dealt with and we all went in our respective directions. As I’m in the cab home, I’m thinking “What am I going home TO DO? O_o”. I suddenly felt lazy that I had no plans in mind… at 4am. Friends of mine were working hard, LITERALLY around the clock, so long as they were physically awake, and I was doing whatever amount I was doing, which was a very low percentage of my actual potential.
There was no way I was going out like that and getting left behind, so I amped it up. My time is spent very efficiently now, which is why none of my time is “free”. I never make plans, but something always comes up. Since something always comes up, I never make plans. I do whatever comes naturally at any given time because my ultimate strength lays within my natural focus.
If I feel like tracking guitar, it’s not the time for drums.
If I feel like writing a blog post, it’s not time to do music.
If I feel like reading and commenting on my friends’ Facebook updates, it’s not time to write a blog post.
If I feel like creating a “how to” video, it’s not time for Facebook.
Similarly.. If I wake up at 3am and feel like putting in some billable hours for a client, that’s what I’m gonna do.
I might be half a day into their project by the time they wake up. I might still be working on their project 16 hours later while they’re out to dinner with their families. I might put in two days’ worth of work during the same 24-hour period where 9-5ers put in one day’s worth, so there’s no such thing as “free” time.
There’s only MY time.
Don’t Get It Twisted
If I appear to be doing nothing, I’m either relaxing/recouping, socializing or trying to THINK or feel out what my next ultra-efficient power move is going to be. It’s not an invitation for you to attempt to interrupt my flow with discussions about whatever YOU happen to need right now.
If my schedule appears to be clear, it’s because making future plans hinders my ability to pivot on a dime and do the best thing I could do right now…. Actually, that’s not true…. More accurately, my ability to pivot on a dime and do the best thing I could do right now is *NOT* hindered by plans I made in the past (unless it’s a block of time that I promised to accept money from someone for working on a project of theirs, in which case, Business is Business), which is why I don’t make plans.
If I make a plan with you on the 3rd to do something on the 12th and then the 12th comes around and I feel like doing something different, “something different” is what I’m gonna do. Therefore, there’s no point in making plans with you that I don’t intend to keep. All I can do is thank you for the information or the invite and let you know one way or the other when I positively commit to your event, which will definitely be on the day-of and might be an hour before the event begins.
So keep these things in mind next time you decide you’d like to ask someone to donate some of their “free time” to a project of yours without a) offering to properly compensate them or b) offering them anything that might be of commensurate value to them to the amount of time of theirs that you’re wasting when they could otherwise be relaxing, enjoying themselves, thinking, planning, improving themselves or putting in billable hours for their actual clients.