Freelancing: Expectations vs Reality

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

This time last year I was sat in an office, working out my notice period, constantly day dreaming about the new life ahead of me.

I would leave the office bang on 5.30 pm and count down the days until I’d no longer be setting an alarm in the mornings. “What bliss!” I thought.

I’d tell anyone who’d listen just how much I couldn’t wait to work from home and be my own boss. That I couldn’t wait to have all this time to myself and not have to answer to anyone.

Some may call me naive, but I just like to call myself hopeful. You see the reality became somewhat different.

So, what common misconceptions about the freelancing lifestyle have I busted?

Your working hours will be a walk in the park

In my previous job, I sat at my desk from 9 am through to 5.30 pm, five days a week. In the winter, sometimes I’d never see the light of day. So, of course by becoming a freelancer, my hours would be super flexible.

Incorrect. Even on the days when I have the best intentions, I end up working late into the evening to hit that deadline or to ease the pressure off for the following day. After all, the office is right there, and it doesn’t harm to check those emails one last time before bed…

You’ll no longer eat lunch at your desk

I used to have an hour long lunch break when I worked at the office, and most of the time I resorted to eating at my desk. I needed to be there to answer the phones, and quite frankly, there was nothing better to do. That being said, I couldn’t wait to regain my lunch hour when I became a freelancer.

Fast forward to now, and I’m still eating at my desk (much to the detriment of myself and the hoover). Sometimes, it will be 3 pm and I still haven’t even eaten yet so I resort to snacking instead. Time flies when you’re having fun.

You’ll be able to work in your pyjamas all day

We all joke about doing this, and we’ve definitely all done it — because we can. But is it really sustainable for a healthy working routine?

I wish I could say it is. I definitely thought I’d be the biggest advocate for working in your PJ's. Unfortunately, it makes you focus less, and stifles your creativity. So, clothes it is. Even if just on the top half.

You’ll take a cheeky mid-day nap

Ah sleep. The holy grail of life.

As I was coming to the end of my notice period, and the end of my work load, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands with nothing to do. I’d put my arms on the desk and shut my eyes for a few moments, dreaming of the days I’d be able to do this at home, on the comfort of my own bed.

Have I managed to work a nap into my schedule yet? Not even close. There’s been times where I’ve had a bit of a lie down half way through the day but I’ve immediately shot back up again. It makes you feel like you’re no longer at work, which ultimately is no good if you have an every-growing to-do list to get through. So for now, there’s no napping on the job — especially if I want to finish at a reasonable time.

You can take days off anytime you want

I used to plan my days off meticulously and made use of coloured pens on my wall calendar to proudly mark the occasions. I was lucky I had a healthy allowance of 25 days per year, but it still didn’t feel like enough. The freelancing life would make all my dreams come true surely?

In theory, yes. I can take off as many days as I choose. In reality, I do not. I have deadlines to meet and bills to pay, and sometimes, it doesn’t feel worth it for the catch up I’ll have to do if I do take the time off, or the lower pay check at the end of the month. I like to think it’s a testament to how much I love my work, but a day off or two definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Freelancing isn’t the doddle I once thought it was, and it’s definitely not for everyone. But once you’ve worked past the misconceptions and the way you thought things might be, life on the other side can be pretty great.

My alarm clock is permanently set an hour later, and I’ve spent more time in the sun (with my laptop) than ever before. And whilst I’m still working for other people, I am my own boss, and nothing will ever beat that feeling. So, what are you waiting for?

Freelance writer, procrastinator, and lover of cats. Avid traveller pre-lockdown. Future best-selling novelist post-lockdown🤞 Find me at www.amycubwrites.com

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