The tides of Freelancing
This week, a colleague approached me with a couple of questions about freelancing. He asked about the contract I am using, taxes and the usual technical things.
As we were chatting, he revealed his intentions to become a freelancer to better battle the overhours and pay he was getting from the startup he is working on.
I ended up writing a couple of elaborate answers, here is what I think.
The core to my answers was, that I certainly think that freelancing can give you a good position to negotiate on time and money. And you have to exercise that position, otherwise you end up in a situation that neither you want, nor any client can be happy with.
I see this tightly coupled with some of my best strenghts, that I can bring to any project and differentiate me from others. The most obvious being, my very high level of motivation.
Lets ponder over this a little bit deeper.
The time I have in my life, is my most precious resource. If everything goes well, I think I can do about 80 years. And I choose to live in a society and contribute to it, so work is naturally something that I want to spend time with.
So look at your day, your week and see what portion of time is spent working. I can tell you exactly how much time I have spent working productively, because I meticulously keep track of time. This is due to the fact, that I work based on an hourly rate.
My time entries are exact down to the minute. In an overview, and I can proudly show you weeks I logged 50+ hours. I can also show you, with the same pride, weeks with < 15 work hours or less, even over a couple of months.
There are times, I see myself in need, the project can make use of my skills and I am motivated to be working on it. I will happily contribute my time, skill and motivation.
But I am equally content with times where I can spend most of the day playing with my children, reading books and doing ‘nothing’. ‘Nothing productive’.
So, over the course of the years, I became accustomed to this low- and high tide way of working.
There is a strong relation between these intense, fast and long work sessions and doing nothing. For me, one cannot exist without the other.
I thrive in critical situations, facing challenging problems. And if I can honestly take a challenge, my whole body and mind are supporting me for the cause. Over the years, I have learned how much energy I can tap into for my work. And with the right amount of downtime, this is a hell lot of energy.
People see me doing 14+ hours a day, three times a week, and for the naive bystander it looks like I am working crazy hard. In reality, I am just very aware of how much of my time I can use for work, and when I need a break.
I need a strong position to negotiate about my own time. I can not, and will not let a company, client or who-ever I am working with dictate how much time I can spend on a cause that I trade my time against money.
Here you have one of my main reasons, I choose to be a freelancer over being an employee.
If you are in a position that someone is ‘using’ you, or sometimes you could even say ‘abusing’ you. Make up your mind, and start deciding for yourself.
How much of your time are you willing to invest for some other cause than your own?
How much can you give sustainably, without taking a risk or damaging your health?
What is really driving your motivation? What do you, expect from yourself at work?
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