If you are a solopreneur, a freelancer, or in any role where you are your own boss or work independently, you have most likely heard something like, “You work from home (or for yourself) so you can … [fill in request to run an errand, hang out, or whatever].” Odds are that not only have you heard this, but also you’ve heard it numerous times – usually from friends and family.
This can be frustrating. What many 9-to-5ers don’t realize is that as a freelancer, business owner, or solopreneur, you often have more than one “job.” Typically, in addition to your “main” position as a service provider, you also have to fill the duties of:
- CEO, CFO, and entire management team
- Customer service representative
- Marketing director
- Secretary/personal assistant
- Quality assurance manager
- Cleaning staff
In some cases, you can outsource some of your duties, but you are ultimately responsible for the success (or failure) of your business. Owning your own business means putting in the hours of an entire company and often “free time” seems like a myth.
One of the bonuses of working independently is the ability to create a flexible schedule – giving you the opportunity to:
- Work out when the gym is less crowded;
- Visit a loved one (whether in the hospital, at home, or wherever);
- Have a fun day (aka a rare “day off”);
- Take a much-needed nap because you were working until the wee hours of the morning;
- Get your teeth cleaned, visit the doctor, or take care of other health-related appointments;
- Run errands you need to get done;
- Do whatever you want.
Seeing you alter your schedule can send the wrong message to others, especially when they don’t realize that you need to put in extra time and plan ahead to make up for this “time off.”
Also, many times, even when you are technically not working, you are still preoccupied with the business’s needs and you make sure you check in throughout this “free time.”
As a big fan of finding balance, I often try to incorporate non-work related time into my week. It can be difficult, but it’s necessary to remain sane and to keep my business running at top speed. I also have to find ways to “lock up my office” and be able to enjoy my time without worrying about the business. This is sometimes easier said than done.
However, I have found that if I plan accordingly (and make sure I turn off my phone and email alerts), I can take a break from work and enjoy some “free time.” What others may not understand is for me to be able to truly enjoy these non-working moments, I cannot always just stop working in the middle of my day because you want me to do something. It’s nothing personal, but I don’t get a paycheck unless I complete all of the work I need to do – including all of those extra duties that I have.
Have you faced similar issues? How do you incorporate “free time” into your week? How do you address people who do not understand why you can’t just drop everything for them?