Freelancing Teaches You to Work Better

 


I’ve always expected that the honeymoon period of freelancing would end, and yet three years in, my rose-tinted goggles are still firmly on. I see a world filled with unlimited possibilities: working in my underwear, on the floor, in the bed, in the kitchen, refilling my big mug of tea over and over. Taking an afternoon off to go out for a walk or a drink with friends and work all night instead. Traveling, a lot, at least when there is no pandemic underfoot, and working from trains and ferries and cars, from bunk beds in grubby youth hostels and the games room of a hippy commune.

I am loving being a freelancer, so much that I have begun to ask myself: Will I ever be able to work in an office again? Or has freelance work ruined me for any other type of employment?

I’m not very good at routine nor authority. I don’t like having to be in a particular place at a certain time; I feel like it completely drains me of creativity. I hate the feeling of coming home after a day’s work and feeling too drained to do anything else, the feeling that work is the only thing in your life. I want to have the energy to go out and do all the other things that matter to me, and working from home allows you to have the energy for everything else. I’m a hard worker, but I can only work on my own time and the idea of being trapped in an office day in day out terrifies me.

Yet I’m sure that I will want to return to normal life at some point, to have a contract and office hours and a boss. I do miss the camaraderie of offices — having company and office drama and office gossip, meeting at the coffee machine in the morning or late in the evening when you’re still hard at work and glad to have someone to commiserate with. It must be relaxing to have someone dealing with all the administrative side of things, not having to follow up on bills or constantly pitch stories to find your next job. To know you have a paycheck and that you don’t have to be disciplined all the time because someone is setting the rhythm. To have time off, which is actually time off.

However much freelance life might warp you, the good thing is it also teaches you skills you couldn’t pick up if you were working for someone else, and that makes you a better employee wherever you go.

You become an all-rounder

When you are a freelancer, you have to carry every aspect of a project, from pitching to creating to billing and doing the administrative side. It gives you a more wide-ranging view of what doing the work really entails, which can help you understand the people in different roles in an office environment and be more empathic towards your colleagues rather than complain about accounting/management/the photo desk.

You learn to appreciate teamwork, and when to delegate

It also gives you a new perspective on teamwork, which suddenly seems like a wondrous thing rather than a drudgery. I miss people. I miss having people to discuss a project with and putting heads together to produce the very best work.

You become a self-starter, and learn to tackle procrastination

As a freelancer, you also learn to push yourself forward, be a self-starter, and go forward and do the projects you intend to do. Working for yourself, you have to learn discipline and strategies for fighting against procrastination. You get to know yourself better, get to know when you work best, which things you often put off, how to motivate yourself, and create a work environment that stimulates you. If you’ve never had a chance to be a freelancer, you might not even know what you need to do your best work. Whereas when you work for yourself, you constantly experiment with this, and you learn to listen to your instinct every new day.

Readjusting to office life might seem like a colossal task, but one thing is for sure, having been a freelancer will change the way you work as an employee — for the better.

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