Though I can’t recall what I said exactly, it was something along the lines of “been waiting for the weekend.” As those words left my lips, there was a subtle change in the atmosphere of the car – as if there was now some judgement mixed with the cool air of the air conditioner.
That’s when someone said out loud what was probably roller-skating in everyone’s mind, “but you work from home, why do you care about the weekend?”
*Cue internal sigh*
Wouldn’t lie, I knew it was coming. For a moment I was speechless. Not because I didn’t have an answer but because I couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t understand.
It’s funny how a student on a preparation leave gets more value and empathy than a freelancer working from home.
Or is it that my career was defining the treatment I was getting as a remote worker? Perhaps because I am a writer, people assume I type shit on a blank paper and sell an art which apparently everyone has for money that slips out of my laptop’s vent.
Would I have had more respect had I been a remote working Quality Control Manager of a brick-and-mortar business? More visible, fancier name, and if you require a degree to do something, your work is cooler, sounds smarter, and more challenging, no?
As a serious freelance writer, I feel like a hamster running on a wheel that no one can see.
I spend most days of my week working. When the weekend rolls in, I take a break because it’s 2020 and self-care is worth more than a dime.
Kidding. I take an off because regrouping and refreshing are important to ensure your tank doesn’t run out of productivity fuel the next week. Besides, with some work seeping into my off hours almost all five days of the week, I don’t want to experience burnout.
Still wondering, why I care as much about my weekend as any office goer? Here’s an inside look at the why:
1 – Freelancing comes with an awful lot of stress
A United Nations study from 2017 found that 41% of remote workers are highly stressed compared to 25% of office goers. The same study also found that more remote workers struggled with insomnia than regular cubicle workers. And no, they don’t have trouble sleeping because they nap throughout the day as many assume.
What’s the reason behind these higher stress markers then? Authors of the report said that those who work from home have “longer working hours, higher work intensity and work-home interference.”
But that’s not all. As a freelancer, in particular, I have to manage quite a few clients at once. So yeah, I can relate to the monkey that tries to juggle various objects at once.
Also add to the list:
- The stress of meeting tight deadlines
No aunty Martha, I can’t go out tonight because I need to proofread the piece I have been working on before the clock strikes 12.
- The stress of getting more clients on board
We’re taking passengers for next week. Would you like to hop on?
- The stress of reaching your monetary goals
Turns out I don’t earn math as easy as $25 + $25.
- The stress imposed by imposter syndrome
I am not that bad at what I do. Or am I?
- The stress of talking to potential clients you’ve not met in person
Now why does Steve think we need a phone call conversation?
2 – It can be literal pain in the neck
Unfortunately, people bury logic underground when they assume that your neck, back, and even your arms are less strained when used outside the office for professional work.
Sure, there are perks of remote working – there’s flexibility, no exhaustion from commute, no need to get ready. But freelance writing comes with an anxiety of sorts. There’s 24/7 fear of not progressing, not getting the time to relax and unwind.
A 2005 study which the Work & Stress journal published concluded that freelancers struggled with “chronic strain and a reduced ability to relax.” Researchers said long working hours along with fluctuating workload kept freelancers anxious. Couldn’t agree more.
Furthermore, an Epsom study found that 25% of freelancers experienced depression due to isolation. Another research concluded that teleworking left workers with more physical and mental fatigue as home and job stress bled into one another.
So, let’s bust the myth that shouldn’t need busting – work is work whether you do it from home or office. You need to train your eyes away from the screen, need to give your back a break whether you are a telecommuter or an office goer.
3 – There are no clear boundaries
To get any work done you need to be in flow. But if I’m being honest, just my mere presence at home gets me sucked into the black hole of home chores or stress one way or another. Even if only a few minutes of every work hour go to home-related stuff, that’s hampered flow and lost time.
This means after my work hours come to an end, I still have some work left because of distractions during the day. Which means I have to dedicate additional time quite often. Since my home is technically my office and vice versa, work-life balance often gets toppled.
In the afterwork hours, I’m usually checking my mailbox and social media channels. I take an off on weekends because that’s the only time I allow myself to temporarily separate from my laptop. One Buffer report proves I’m not the only teleworker unable to unplug. In fact, 22% of remote workers have difficulty unplugging once their work hours end.
There’s also the con that unlike office goers, freelancers do not have paid holidays. This means their choice to take a break comes with sacrificed bucks. Moreover, they have to pre-plan their vacations carefully and may have to even work during vacations.
A recent survey by HoneyBook found 92% of freelancers in the US work even when on vacations. Why?
- Because they don’t want to cut down their revenue
- They don’t want to miss any great opportunities from potential clients
- They fear they can be replaced if inaccessible
Considering how weekdays are filled to the brim and there are no paid vacays in sight, I really need weekends to myself.
4 – There’s a lot of work on the plate
If you are good at what you do as a freelancer, chances are you have more work on your desk than you planned to attract. A 2018 UpWork study found that 72% of freelancers have the quantity of work they want or even more.
But client work is not all that their times goes to. To thrive as a freelancer, marketing oneself is key. This means freelancers need to build their online presence, nurture relationships with prospects, and more.
To create engagement, regular blogging, social media posting, and excellent communication are musts. All this takes a lot of time and effort which adds to the to-do list. Simple translation: I certainly need a break on weekends from all this.
Quick wrap up
Freelancers have it great but hard. They have to juggle work and life from the same spot, handle multiple bosses, chase more work, and market themselves too.
The pay is amazing but remote work is scary. There’s flexibility but no breaks and there’s loneliness too. There’s no Chris from the neighboring cubicle, no Shelly to meet at the water cooler, and no one to sneak out for coffee with. At least, not until they’re ready to sacrifice money.
So, let me say this one more time, louder for those in the back – weekends mean a lot to a freelance writer like me who works her brain off all week long.