Working freelance doesn’t mean working on weekends
If you’re a freelancer, it’s easy to fall into the trap. For me, working all the time made me tired of what I love the most.
I’ve been working freelance since 2004 (2007 full-time I guess).
During this time, I alternated periods of intense work (when I ran out of money) with a very relaxed work schedule (and splurging on the money I’d suddenly have).
Past few years, as I got older (and married), I’ve been working a lot more.
Working long hours is totally fine with me. The problem is, not only have I been a lot less happy, but I’ve been doing crappier work, and my passion (for web development in my case, but I think this applies to designers and other professions, too) has greatly diminished.
I’ve been thinking about it lately. What’s going on here..? I used to breathe web development!
Working too much made me a saaaad freelancer
It took me a while to figure it out. I noticed that when I started my career, I was all excited and happy all the time. I sprung out of bed and couldn’t wait to start crunching code—and for peanuts, compared to what I make now.
Lately, I just haven’t been as passionate. I even thought that perhaps I should do something else. My whole life I just had a lot of fun coding, and then it actually started to feel like work.
It did take me a while to figure it out, but eventually I did.
Too much of it ate away my passion
I don’t know if it’s a good analogy, but if your favorite food is—let’s say—broccoli (yum!), and you just eat that every day, wouldn’t eventually get tired of it and even end up hating it?
I think the same can happen when you’re lucky enough to make your passion a career. You just like it so much, all you do and want to do is that.
I would literally work 8-10 hours on client projects, and then go home and keep working on personal stuff—and on my free time, I’d read tech books.
The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize it, because I was actually having fun. I would have done the same thing even if I didn’t get paid.
If I look at reports from my time tracking software (Freckle, if you’re looking for one), I would hardly be able to find a single day where I worked 0 hours, and this would go back weeks or even months with me working at least 3h/day.
The thing is, as I kept doing it too much, little by little I just liked it less and less(just like in my broccoli example), and without even noticing.
The result—after years and years—is that I still liked web development, but I didn’tlove it anymore.
After much soul searching, I finally figured out that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like web development anymore: it was just that I had overdone it for so long.
On top of that, my passion hadn’t disappeared, but was merely dormant, anesthetized by years and years of doing the same thing every day.
The solution might seem obvious (as might my problem), but I urge everyone whom—like me—didn’t realize that you need some balance, to make sure you don’t work all the time.
Go do something else, and as unrelated as possibile, for as long as possible.
When you’re working freelance, it’s way too easy to never take a break from it. You have deadlines, etc. etc.
Find some balance. By working too much, you actually get less stuff done anyway, because you’re tired and less productive.
For me, overdoing it made me pretty much indifferent to web development, which instead I truly love.
If you’re working freelance, it’s easy to fall in the trap—if you want to keep being passionate about it, take a break from it.
Niccolò Brogi is a web developer and a consultant based in Florence, Italy.
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